Cave Exploration - Early Exploration

Boxwork formation inside Wind Cave
Wind Cave Boxwork

NPS Photo

Candles and String

The first written record of a trip into Wind Cave was by Frank Herbert, a Black Hills pioneer who visited the cave in 1881. He was given the cave’s location by Charlie Crary, believed to be the first person to actually descend into the cave. In this early party were Hebert, Jesse Girelle, his wife, the two Cole girls, and Mayme Sprague.

 
Two cavers inside a passageway of Wind Cave
Exploring the Cave

NPS Photo

“I started down…”

I was supposed to lead, Herbert said. We had to jump down a hole that I could just about squeeze through, six or seven feet. I started down with my lantern. Had to crawl on hands and knees facing a terrible wind for about fifty feet, and then the main hole seemed to be going down at right angles and very steep, but it gave a good foothold.

 
Historic black and white photograph of cabin on right located over Natural Entrance. Building on left constructed in 1890 at site of present entrance.
Cabin on right located over Natural Entrance. Building on left constructed in 1890 at site of present entrance.

NPS Photo Archive

“…got scared and went back.”

After exploring for a time, Herbert and Sprague began the long climb back toward the entrance: We started on back, found the string and followed it. Those on top helped to pull us up. They went down as far as where the main part turned down, but got scared and went back.

 
 
Devil's Lookout
Historic sepia-toned photograph of two men at the Devil's Lookout inside Wind Cave

NPS Photo Archive

Last updated: December 28, 2017

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26611 US Highway 385
Hot Springs, SD 57747

Phone:

(605) 745-4600

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