Early Cave Explorers (1881-1903)

Wind Cave is a culturally significant and sacred site to the Lakota and Cheyenne, and to many other tribes that traveled in and around the area that would become Wind Cave National Park. Word of the cave's entrance spread among American Indians as well as among settlers who arrived later, but there is no evidence of anyone entering the cave until 1881. Listed here are some of the first individuals and families involved in the early exploration of Wind Cave.


Alvin McDonald | Alvin McDonald was one of the first systematic explorers of Wind Cave. He crawled through Wind Cave's cramped passageways, writing his discoveries in a journal. He explored the cave from 1890 to 1893.

Katie Stabler | John Stabler's daughter was one of the Wind Cave's earliest explorers.

Emma McDonald | Emma McDonald was the wife of Elmer McDonald, and sister-in-law to Alvin McDonald. She was the mother of Inez, Irene and Raemond McDonald.
Inez (McDonald) Foley | Inez was Alvin McDonald's niece, and daughter of Elmer and Emma McDonald.
Tommy McDonald | A younger brother of Alvin McDonald's, Tommy moved to Wind Cave in 1892. In his early years Tommy did not have much interest in Wind Cave. For a time, he worked as a mail carrier around what is now Badlands National Park.

John Stabler | "Honest John" Stabler, as he was called, moved to Hot Springs to operate the Parrott Hotel. He later moved to Wind Cave and partnered with the McDonald Family in its management.

Katie Stabler | The daugher of John Stabler, Katie was one of the early guides and explorers in Wind Cave.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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