E.C. Horn was a travel writer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His booklet, Mazes and Marvels of Wind Cave (1901), along with Luella Agnes Owen's Cave Regions of the Ozarks and Black Hills (1898) were the first books published about Wind Cave. These books, in conjunction with Alvin McDonald's diary, The Private Account of A.F. McDonald, provide the earliest accounts of Wind Cave. You can read the full text below.
Mazes and Marvels of Wind Cave
MAZES AND MARVELS OF WIND CAVE
HOT SPRINGS, SOUTH DAKOTA
"There lies a Vale in Ida, lovelier
Tennyson's poetic eulogy on the Vale of Ida lacks in power to depict the beauty of the lower Black Hills as evidenced in the Vale of Minnekahta, ensconced within which, in the shape of the letter S, is Hot Springs, the "Carlsbad of America."
The city of Hot Springs, with a permanent population of more than 2,000, its numerous mineral springs, delightful, invigorating climate, beautiful, entrancing scenery, and palatial hotels and sanitariums, attracts multiplied thousands annually. Well might it be called the "Health Seeker's Mecca" of two hemispheres, for it acts as a magnet, drawing its visitors from every clime.
The Burlington and Northwestern railroad companies have built a costly union depot of the most modern type within one block of the leading hotels, and show their patrons every courtesy.
Besides all the excellencies noted, Hot Springs takes a high round on the ladder of fame as the vestibule to one of Nature's greatest wonders, Wind Cave. If Hot Springs is but the vestibule, who can divine what Wind Cave ought to be? Let us see.
Hot Springs to Wind Cave
ROMANTIC DRIVE—BATTLE MOUNTAIN—BATTLE BETWEEN THE CHEYENNE AND SIOUX—VIEW OF BUFFALO GAP—HARNEY PEAK—LUNCH AT CAVE
Arriving in Hot Springs via either route, the tourist soon finds himself registered at the hotel of his choice and ready for the twelve-mile drive to the Cave. Soon we are out of the city, scaling the heights. To our right, little more than sling-shot distance stands Battle Mountain, as a Titan guarding the springs. Passing west of this mountain we remember that we are riding over ground that witnessed many a struggle between hostile Indian tribes for possession of the springs, which send forth health-giving waters as a panacea for all diseases. From the day the first spring was discovered by an Indian until the Black Hills country was wrested from the Indians by treaty, this enchanting vale was a bone of contention. Indian history, tinctured with tradition, pictures the Cheyennes as victors, routing the Crows and all others who chose to cross tomahawks with them. Here the Cheyennes flourished, fearing no rival. But as the European meteor flashed out at Waterloo, just so the Cheyennes met their match on Battle Mountain. That brawny tribe had exulted too long. Victory had encamped with them, had perched upon their wigwam banners until the Cheyennes believed the Great Spirit had made them invisible. Such self-exaltation was displeasing to the Sioux. Hence after a war dance and a great council, the Sioux sallied forth from their distant shrine with tomahawk, eagle feathers, and war paint to dislodge the Cheyennes from their stronghold amid the most splendid "Happy Hunting Grounds" of the Dakotas. The Sioux had long heard of the land of Minnekahta (Minne-water; kahta-hot) and had longed for its possession. Now that a start was made, that famous land was to be theirs or they would never return, thinking there could be no better place to ascend to the "Great Father" than from the heights rising skyward alongside far-famed Minnekahta.
Long before the Sioux arrived, Cheyenne scouts brought word of the Sioux advance. The Cheyennes were frenzied, and donned their war paint, feathers, and tomahawk and made ready to protect their homes, their wigwams, from the vengeance of the invaders. Ascending Battle Mountain the Cheyennes awaited the enemy. The resolute Sioux wavered not, but faced rocks, hurled as if by powerful enginery of war. Arrows filled the air. The savage war-whoop resounded from hilltop to hilltop, and after a final onslaught the Cheyennes were overpowered, outwitted, outfought, and fled in consternation, leaving the dead on the slope, "Clutching the greensward, Seeming in death to hold back from his foe the land of his fathers," and the guardian of Minnekahta, Battle Mountain, was left in possession of the Sioux. This victory secured for the Sioux the possession of the springs and Fall River until the treaty of '76 was consummated, when the Cheyennes were transferred to their reservation by the government.
Leaving Battle Mountain in the rear, the carriage advances bringing to the eye scenic landscape that beggars description. To the left is a beautiful slope resembling Missionary Ridge; to the right Buffalo Gap, twelve miles away, is pointed out by the driver. Through the gap thousands of buffalo annually found their way from the Nebraska and Dakota prairies to winter range and protection during the long winter months. It was through this gap also that the Indians drove available herds for the round-up. Looking away to the eastward through Buffalo Gap, the tourist observes the Bad Lands looming up in their nakedness eighty miles away.
When little more than half way to the Cave an elevation of 4,225 feet is reached, being nearly 1,000 feet above Hot Springs, the starting point. Here the eye feasts as it wanders at will over the rugged expanse, high over Custer and Sylvan Lake (the gem of the Hills) to Harney Peak, an elevation of 8,200 feet, the highest point in the Black Hills.
To say the least, the trip from Hot Springs to Wind Cave is worth a journey across the continent, or from the heart of Europe, and costs only $1.50 for the round trip, including guides through the Cave, lights, equipment, etc.
Passing over the backbone of the hills, where deer, coyote, and prairie chickens are often seen, we descend by a circuitous route through a prairie dog town to the hotel at the Cave.
Wind Cave - Historical, Scientific, Descriptive
DISCOVERY—100 MILES AND 3,000 CHAMBERS EXPORED—THE THREE TRAVELED ROUTES—PREVAILING FORMATIONS—PARALLELING CREVICES—OVERLYING TIERS—POSTULATES—TEMPERATURE
Wind Cave was discovered by a cowboy in 1881. While riding through the gulch his hat was blown high in the air. Descending to discern the cause, he observed a strong out-going current from an oval shaped hole in the rock, measuring about eight by ten inches. He returned the following day with his friends, who, Thomas-like, refused to believe such a mammoth wind story without personal verification. Alighting from his horse to show his friends what the wind would do for his hat, he was astonished to have his hat snatched from his hands by an ingoing current and carried through the orifice with a swish to-he knew not where.
No other opening being discovered, an entrance was effected at this point by blasting, but only for a few feet, as those engaged in the work believed further work to be useless. The Cave remained untouched for about nine years, visited, however, by men desirous of accounting for the windy phenomena. But in 1890, work was begun in earnest by men bent on finding minerals worth developing. Their labors were not in vain, for they unlocked one of the greatest geological wonders discovered in the nineteenth century.
The guides affirm that 100 miles of passages have been explored, and the end remains apparently as mysterious as when the first mile was completed. Of the 3,000 chambers discovered, the largest covers three acres and is known as the "Fair Grounds," being one acre larger than the largest room in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky.
Three routes have been opened to tourists at enormous expense. The three routes, the Garden of Eden, Fair Grounds, and Pearly Gates, now open, can be traveled with safety and at a minimum expenditure of energy. There being an excess of oxygen in the Cave, the weary traveler is invigorated by visiting the Cave and reveling in its mazes and marvels.
The prevailing formations in the Cave are the box-work, popcorn, and frostwork. The Cave being so unlike all other caves and its formations so different, geological names are wanting by which to designate the surprises observed at each step. It is like other caves, however, in possessing geodes, calcite crystals, quartz, stalagmites, stalactites, and mineral-bearing rock.
The Cave, so far as known, has twelve paralleling crevices or fissures ranging from 50 to 300 feet apart. These paralleling crevices are connected by side passages with no regularity in occurrence.
Besides the paralleling crevices there are, to complicate matters, eight tiers of chambers overlying one another. Hence the Cave presents to imagination the appearance of a building eight stories high and wide enough for twelve arcades with rooms on either side. It is also likened unto a colossal sponge, and to one who has visited the underground giant the comparison is an apt one.
The different geological formations found in the eight tiers are a study within themselves. In the upper tier stalagmites arise from the floor; some are almost ready to unite in a bond of fellowship with stalactites which for countless years have been on the downward journey from the ceiling. Some there are which formed a union thousands of years ago and are still growing.
The frost work is the distinguishing formation of the second tier. Here crystals of the purest white abound in needle-like form, some attaining a length of two inches.
In the third tier box-work appears in its most delicate form, becoming more transparent in the fourth tier.
Pop corn appears in the fifth tier and continues through the sixth and seventh. Crystals of various colors are more plentiful in the sixth and seventh tiers. In the eighth tier the box work is heavier and darker, approaching indigo blue in color. Many of the beautiful decorations are accounted for by the action of water quite heavily charged with silica and carbonate of lime. The formations are thicker in the lowest tier because that tier was longest submerged, and the receding water held in solution more solid substance. The box-work formation is an unsolved, but probably not an unsolvable, problem. Various reasons may be advanced in accounting for it.
If the limestone had been cracked in every direction, forming every conceivable geometrical figure, and afterwards the cracks filled with calcite, it is not impossible that hot water might have been forced in by geyser action to disintegrate the rock, clay, etc., leaving the box-work formation. Later the decorations might have been added by water overcharged with calcite. The nucleus of the box-work is dolomite.
The temperature of the Cave is about forty-five degrees the year round. A peculiarity of the temperature is that in descending 500 feet there is a change of only about one degree, where a change of one degree for each hundred feet is expected in descending. Only one opening to the Cave is known. The Cave inhales and exhales in compliance with the changes in the barometer. Occasionally the outgoing current rumbles like a distant thunder storm; at other times no agitation is perceptible.
Students of geology frequently visit Wind Cave for the purpose of studying it in connection with the geysers of Yellowstone Park. Eminent authorities assert that a knowledge of either is not complete without visiting the other.
The Garden of Eden Route
SHORTEST ROUTE, TIME ABOUT TWO HOURS—GUIDES-REGISTER—FIFTY-NINE POINTS OF INTEREST.
This is the shortest route, requiring about two hours' time, and is intended for those in a hurry, having only a limited amount of time at their disposal, and for old people, cripples, etc., desiring a taste of the underground marvel.
Come with me and let us take the routes as I took them. I visited the Cave, day after day, to get acquainted with its mazes and marvels as far as it is possible without learning it sufficiently to avoid having a guide.
Having donned our caps, we set out for the cabin covering the entrance, only a few hundred yards from the hotel. Here we register our names, so that should any accident happen to us our home address may be easily ascertained. Accidents do not happen because everyone is glad to follow the guide's instructions, but this precaution is taken, recognizing that a human being, an intricate machine, is liable to cease business at the old stand at any moment. Not having time to read the register to learn what illustrious people have made the trip before us, we register quickly, assured that all the good, bad, and indifferent have returned to the civilized world safely, which braces us for the trip of a lifetime, going from the known to the unknown, from daylight to the densest darkness.
Here the guide hands to each person a candle, requesting all to follow the guide and fear no danger. The candles being unlighted, a few hasten to light theirs even before descending the steps, only to have them extinguished by the strong current. Having descended a short distance, we light our candles and proceed with less fear.
Just 155 feet below the entrance we reach an apartment called BRIDE'S CHAMBER. Here a plucky girl was married to the one she loved, having doubtless promised her painstaking mother that she would not marry the young man in question on the face of the earth. This procedure would enable one in such a predicament to keep both promises by straining the truth almost to the limit.
We next enter a small chamber of the cabin type where we are shown LINCOLN'S FIREPLACE. The kindling is placed in position ready for a fire to warm the Rail-splitter when he comes in from the forest. The pine knot is placed to give proper light for his nocturnal study, preparing him for the presidency.
Passing the fireplace, we notice a PRAIRIE DOG and MOUND. The little chirper stands ready to dive from our view, but moves not an inch, for his petrified state long ago produced locomotor ataxia.
Our attention is next called to a freak of nature not seen except in Wind Cave. Burning a ribbon of magnesium, the guide directs our attention to the phenomenon, and umbrellas are wished for as we behold the unexpected PETRIFIED CLOUDS. It is needless to state that the unexpected may always be expected while touring in a region of perpetual surprise.
Looking overhead we notice a myriad of SNOW BALLS, each adhering to the frescoed rock as if lately driven to their rest by the recently liberated school boy. This appearance produces a chilling sensation, but the normal temperature returns when the deceived visitor learns that the nearest snow is not less than two hundred miles away to the northward and that what we see above us and around us are carbonate of lime formations only. They appear so much like well formed snow balls, however, that the very elect are deceived.
To avoid a possible storm which threatens from the direction of the Petrified Clouds, we hasten toward the CHURCH STEEPLE. Petrified objects galore are pointed out by the guide, among them being a PETRIFIED WHIRLWIND. One dusky son from a southern clime allowed his imagination to become sufficiently elastic to conceive of a petrified bird singing a petrified song.
Passing the Church Steeple, we enter the POST OFFICE. Here mail addressed to every clime is held as if awaiting claimants. The presence of box-work resembling the typical post-office box gives this chamber its name.
Leaving this medley of letters and cards we pass into ROE'S MISERY. Here an early guide named Roe got stuck and had to be pulled out by means of a rope.
The next chamber is called RED HALL, the prevailing color being red. Here the visitor is shown LIBERTY BELL, which is cracked just like the original at Philadelphia. What formed it? is the usual question. No living man knows, but it is supposed to be the work of a geyser spurting up from the floor. Not far from Liberty Bell is a Wash Boiler, which especially interests the ladies who are so fortunate as to see it. Adjoining this hall is a chamber called the OLD MAID'S GROOTTO. The next chamber is called the WHITE ROOM, and is as white as if calsomined.
From the White Room the visitor enters the OPERA HOUSE via HARD SCRABBLE AVE.
Overhead in the Opera House is the PEANUT GALLERY. Professor Romaine, the renowned violinist of Hungary, rendered several selections here and wrote on the wall the words "Chopin's Nocturne," and beneath it his autograph. He drilled the guide in pronouncing the entire inscription, and cautioned the guide not to forget or vary the pronunciation in the least on penalty of being haunted by the musician's ghost as long as he guided visitors through that Opera House. Mispronunciation was little less than barbarism to the trained ear of Professor Romaine.
The passage way from the Opera House contains a miniature WORLD'S FAIR ADMINISTRATION BUILDING and a PETRIFIED ALLIGATOR.
The next point of interest is the DEVIL'S LOOKOUT standing 65 feet high. Here in silence are two pigs, one having an ear of corn in his mouth as if ready to run for a more congenial spot. A New York lady discovered the two pigs, and remarked, "Isn't it perfectly wonderful that I should be the first one to discover the pigs?" The guide replied, "It is easy for people who have been in the habit of seeing such animals to find their likeness here in the Cave." He was saved from her wrath by being the only one who knew the route.
We next pass SOUNDING ROCK or HIS SATANIC MAJESTY'S CALL and enter MILTON'S STUDY, representing the room where he wrote "PARADISE LOST".
Just beyond is the DEVIL'S KEY-HOLE and a DUTCH BAKE OVEN.
The next room is named SAMPSON'S PALACE. It has a very high dome with box-work edges and stalagmitic floor. In this palace is a formation known as the QUEEN OF SHEBA'S HEAD DRESS. The drapery was a premonition of modern Parisian styles.
A party of foreign tourists, observing the counterpart of the Alps mountains beyond Sampson's Palace gave to the canyon the name SWISS SCENERY. A chamois stands upon a lofty craggy rock ready for a leap, while lower down on the right is a LOAF OF RYE BREAD and a SWISS CHEESE.
Close by is a water formation representing spilt milk and is named the MILKMAID'S MISHAP.
Following our guide, we enter the QUEEN'S DRAWING ROOM, a chamber fearfully and wonderfully made. Here tapestries, draperies, and box-work greet one on all sides.
Advancing a short distance we look above and behold the NEW YORK ELEVATED R & R. The cars are not running owing to a strike.
Following the direction of the track, we enter the M. E. CHURCH, which was dedicated by Dr. Hancher, ex-president of Black Hills College.
Close by the M. E. church is the DELSARTE TEMPLE, named by Professor Warman of Chicago.
The guide leads us on into the wildest, roughest, and most rugged chamber, known as the GIANT'S CAUSEWAY.
We then make a graceful prolonged bow and file under the ARCH OF POLITENESS into LENA'S ARBOR, then on into BISHOP FOWLER'S RETREAT, where our attention is called to the beautiful grotto named LOVER'S RETREAT. Here a youthful couple, having lingered behind and being lost from the party, were found by the guide with clasped hands and in the meshes of Cupid. The midnight darkness of that subterranean world has no terrors for Cupid.
Advancing through POP CORN ALLEY we enter ODD FELLOW'S HALL. Here we observe the ALL SEEING EYE, three links, two goats, and the canopy over the Noble Grand. Music is provided from the MIDWAY PLAISANCE, producing the unique Tom-tom.
On entering the hall the wreck of the Spanish warship COLON attracts attention. This specimen of Wind Cave novelty was named by Dr. Lentz of Brookings, S.D. This wreck is 350 feet below the entrance, nearly two miles from the starting point, and in the sixth tier of chambers. Nature, thousands of years ago, anticipated our choice of colors for the national ensign and indelibly frescoed the avenue leading from Odd Fellow's Hall with red, white, and blue. This avenue is called TURTLE PASS because it shelters a large turtle about five feet in length by three in width. This formation evidently was completed weary years before Columbus dreamed of a land to the westward. At this point our rear guide was detached to return to the hotel with a man who was complaining of having heart trouble on the right side. His chief trouble was an oversupply of quartz (quarts) of a sparkling variety not found nearer than twelve miles of the Cave.
Turtle Pass leads to the CROSS ROADS, where the route divides. Here is NASBY'S DOME, beyond which is the BRECKENRIDGE GALLERY and BULEIGH HEIGHTS, the latter having a dome ninety feet in height.
We are next ushered into the STONE QUARRIES, where one imagines prehistoric giants must once have held sway, but departed since to fields of labor where the rocks are less gigantic.
Here the visitor is shown the GARDEN WALL upon which rests the GIANT'S COFFIN. Strange sensations creep over one as he studies his surroundings, fearful lest he be intruding upon the subterranean retreat or mausoleum of some giant race. The coffin lid can be raised and those sufficiently lion-hearted may look within, observing the GHOST OF A LOST OPPORTUNITY.
Leaving this reminder of mortality, the tourist passes through BISHOP'S GAZE, which has a dome towering 110 feet high, and enters G. A. R. HALL. This hall was dedicated in June, 1899, during the soldiers' reunion at Hot Springs, ninety-six old soldiers being present at the dedicatory services. A monument was erected upon an eminence within the hall to the memory of the heroic dead who wore the blue, but are now sleeping the sleep of the departed patriots. The committee requested that every old soldier visiting the Cave leave his name, company, and regimental designation at the foot of the monument. The G. A. R. Hall is well named. About it are natural fortifications more durable than were constructed upon many a battlefield. Overhead are calcite formations representing breastworks, stockades, etc., the handiwork of nature's creation.
From the G. A. R. Hall an avenue leads to WASHINGTON'S ARBOR and to ST. GEORGE'S PALACE. Were these points of interest shorn of their beautifying accessories, they might have been named THE GREAT LAUNDRIES, as the box-work formations represent many a washing hanging upon lines crossed and recrossed.
Another avenue from the G. A. R. Hall leads to the CLIFF CHAMBER'S DELIGHT, sixty feet high, via FAT WOMAN'S MISERY. A less difficult route has been opened, so that only those desirous of following the old path submit to the crawling process.
Our path leads to the EASTERN STAR ROOM, where chocolate caramels tempt the eye and taste. A different route branches off from each of the five points of the star.
Near the Eastern Star Room, is the W.C.T.U. Hall, dedicated in August 1892. Here the flag and white ribbon keep each other company in perpetual night, the darkness being broken only by the candle and magnesium light, the sunlight having never penetrated that abysmal depth. The guide commands, "Lights out." All obey, because we have learned to trust the guide implicitly, being willing to try the impossible if the guide would so order. The lights go out in an instant and concentrated darkness reigns. The darkness seems more intense with the eyes opened than when closed. You imagine you could cut that darkness into chunks with a knife and preserve a cube of it in alcohol. A magnesium light flashes and the pall of death suddenly changes to radiant light.
Fittingly connected with this hall is SILENT LAKE, fed by a spring forty feet above the level of the lake.
We next pass under the CATHEDRAL DOME through KELLY'S SLIDE to the climax of the route-THE GARDEN OF EDEN. The most beautiful frost-work and box-work fringed with frost-work observed on the entire route is seen here in limitless profusion. The candles are extinguished and magnesium light is substituted. The tourists from Maine to California are fairly bewildered, amazed, and stand speechless as they become entranced, intoxicated by the unexpected profusion of elysian beauties. Here adjectives are useless, vocabularies fail; the word painter is confronted with a scene which defies description. The camera is outwitted; nature triumphs. The many domes are doubtless of geyser formation; and the depression named JACOB'S WELL represents the remains of an extinct geyser as he struggled for existence. The Garden of Eden covers half an acre; the floor is uneven and rugged; the ceiling is a constantly changing panorama of beauty. On one side is the LINNAEUS GROTTO, named by Professor Udden in honor of the renowned Swedish botanist; on the other side is another grotto containing stalagmites and stalactites in process of formation. A GYPSUM MUMMY and RHINOCEROS JAWS are also attractions here.
Leaving the Garden of Eden, but not forgetting it, we visit BEACON HEIGHTS and CORK SCREW PATH. Half way down Cork Screw Path is the GLACIER. Passing the Glacier, we reach the SPORTMAN'S DELIGHT, where a Goose hangs suspended from the ceiling. How many years have passed with the Goose unfed, uncared for, untouched, no man knows, but she is there nevertheless, ready for flight should the Glacier overtake her.
The last point on the Garden of Eden Route is DANTE'S INFERNO. It is dark, black, deep, and a decidedly weird abode for the tormented, and without excuse for its existence when compared with the Garden of Eden.
This route should not be classed as inferior simply because it is the shortest. Fifty-nine points of interest occupy one's undivided attention as the trip is made. The Fair Grounds Route has sixty-four and the Pearly Gates Route, seventy-six distinct attractions, giving a variety likened unto a kaleidoscope effect. We return almost as we came, laden, however, with a boundless supply of sublime, but strangely unique memories. Much in our life's history will be forgotten, but Wind Cave will never, can never, be obliterated from the scroll of remembrance.
The Fairgrounds Route
THE MEDIUM AND MOST FREQUENTLY TRAVELED ROUTE-TIME THREE HOURS—SIXTY FOUR POINTS OF INTEREST
The route most traveled is the Medium, or the Fair Grounds Route, requiring about three hours time.
Those taking the route get the benefit of the Garden of Eden Route as far as the CROSS ROADS. (See Garden of Eden Route to Cross Roads.) From here SUMNER AVENUE leads off a distance of 300 feet to the MASONIC TEMPLE. The guide announces that we are just entering Wind Cave, for here the rarest beauties begin. The first paralleling crevice on the east is observed here.
From the Masonic Temple we pass to the ELK'S RESORT, where an elk's head greets the pilgrim. Close by is a SALVATION ARMY DRUM made in nature's shop and just overhead is a square of IRISH POINT LACE formed by box-work twenty feet on each side.
A passageway to MCKINLEY MEMORIAL HALL has the Wind Cave Chimes. The hall itself has the Chimes also, and not infrequently the visitors are enlivened by music from nature's symphony.
Here the second paralleling crevice appears, in which is seen NAPOLEON'S TOMB, said to be an exact counterpart of the original.
Going from McKinley Memorial Hall we enter WHITNEY AVENUE, which spans the shadowy depths. The question, how deep are these depths? is answered by, How long is eternity? This avenue leads to MONTE CRISTO PALACE, which is in the seventh tier of chambers and on the 450 foot level, and 750 feet below the surface, for here the survey shows that a towering hill stands above holding Monte Cristo Palace firmly in its place as if in a Zeus made vice. Here beautiful clusters of dazzling silica crystals appear, flashing under the power of magnesium light like the most brilliant of diamonds. In this place a trip hammer blow is dealt to geology, which asserts that quartz and calcite formations never appear on the same level. Here the unexpected appears with quartz and calcite formations side by side as if they were breaking no law.
Those who desire to see the BLUE GROTTO on the Fair Grounds Route may do so by passing under the BRIDGE OF SIGHS, traveling one-half mile through the Cave as nature left it, crawling, creeping, sliding, climbing to the heart's content. This is not done except for the benefit of the few who care to pay the price in muscle and grit. If you do not care to make the Blue Grotto, you cross over instead of under the Bridge of Sighs and pass BOTTOMLESS PIT. It is called Bottomless Pit because the bottom cannot be discerned, but if your Sunday school teacher should ask you, just tell her the tapeline stops singing at the ninety-foot mark. Mammoth Cave has a depression seventy feet deep named the Bottomless Pit. Wind Cave is just twenty feet nearer the truth than its competitor in this particular.
Beyond the Bottomless Pit we enter GRECIAN BEND and bow very low whether we like it or not till we reach the ASSEMBLY ROOM. Six routes assemble here: one leads to Pearly Gates, one to Fair Grounds, the others being uncomfortable for the tourist who is less surefooted than the mountain goat.
The PALACE FIREPLACE was found here by Mrs. Markham of Sioux Falls. The CLIFF HOUSE of the Pacific Coast is an object of interest: the one in the Cave, being far removed from the vandal's hand, is undisturbed by the relic hunter.
An avenue seventy-five feet in length leads from the Assemble Room to the MOUND BUILDERS' REST.
We next pass a dreary, forsaken waste called the Bad Lands, thus named from their likeness to the Bad Lands as seen from Battle Mountain, stretching away toward the regions of perpetual snow.
Passing the Bad Lands we enter the TENNIS COURT, where perfect box-work forms a tennis net. We defer playing a game lest our candles burn out and leave us groping in Egyptian darkness. But our fears are allayed when informed that the guide has a large supply of matches and candles, sufficient to make the trip twice. A dear experience taught the guides to carry an ample supply of lighting material. Once the guide had all lights extinguished in order to secure a certain effect with magnesium, when he found himself lightless and matchless. His only alternative was to find the entrance which he did by falling upon the floor and crawling till daylight signaled victory. Living practically in the Cave for years, the guides know the Cave like the multiplication table. As they pilot you through, they explain the Cave in a manner which commands your admiration, causing you to remark that such efficiency is worthy of generous remuneration.
Our next point of interest is the A.O.U.W. HALL, dedicated in May, 1900, by the Grand Lodge of South Dakota. This half has the GHOST OF SHE, and it so excited a colored visitor once that he endeavored to go straight up in order to avoid meeting this mysterious apparition formed of solid rock and draped in white. In this hall is a PUNCH BOWL with the bottom punched out.
Passing the WORKMAN HALL we enter the DEGREE OF HONOR HALL, where the sheep is on duty instead of the goat. This formation is the most perfect of all representing animals formed in the Cave.
The next point of interest is JOHNSTONE'S CAMPGROUND, it being the room in which Paul Alexander Johnstone, the famed mind-reader, and his party slept the third night while on a hunt for a pin head hid in the Cave by Judge Boomer and W.U. Germond of Hot Springs. Mr. Johnstone made a wager of $1000 that he could find a pin head if hid anywhere in Wind Cave, and he would make the trip from Hot Springs to the Cave and to the pin head blindfolded. The wager was accepted. The two responsible men mentioned were to hide the pin. It was done. When the men returned to Hot Springs, Johnstone grasped each man by the arm, led them to a conveyance in waiting, drove to Wind Cave in forty-two minutes, entered the Cave and after seventy-three hours and twenty minutes returned with the identical pin head. Less time would have been consumed in finding the pin head had those who hid it not forgotten the route they took in hiding it. All were lost at times. When lost the mind-reader is said to have writhed upon the floor like a molested serpent. He cried and moaned as if in the greatest mental agony, saying his reputation was at stake in the matter, not caring for the money. Thoroughly blindfolded, Mr. Johnstone finally led the party into the room known as STANDING ROCK CHAMBER and placed the point of his knife blade upon the pin head. Mr. Johnstone performed other almost equally extraordinary feats of mind reading at other places, which provided data for a chapter in the New Psychology.
Passing Johnstone's Camp Ground we are ushered into a room remarkable for its appearance, named BACHELOR'S PARLOR, so called because it is so rocky. It must have been named by some imaginative lady who rescued some man from the woes of bachelordom, and knew whereof she spoke.
From the Bachelor's Parlor the way leads through the TICKET OFFICE into THE FAIR GROUNDS. This immensity, covering about three acres was discovered in 1892 by George Stabler, and is said to be the largest underground pavilion in the world. On a stormy day in winter when visitors were not expected, Mr. Stabler and an exploring party entered the Cave desiring to discover some hitherto unknown expanse. Taking a ball of heavy twine, they fastened one end where the known ended and the unknown began and pushed out like the resolute Norsemen knowing not whether. After following a circuitous route, they were elated when the beauties of the largest cavern known to man greeted their surprised eyes. Having decided at the outset to name any rich find the Fair Grounds, they were even more surprised when they observed that their discovery was a veritable fair ground. Right before their astonished eyes stood a TIMBER WOLF and through the ceiling and ELEPHANT'S FOOT hung and still hangs as if a mammoth had broken through the ceiling, forever secure from further activity. The first apartment of the Fair Grounds is known as the SCHOOL ROOM of the South Dakota Teachers' Association, dedicated in August, 1899, by a session of school with Professor Brown, president of the association, as teacher, and fifty two teachers acting as pupils.
The east wing of the Fair Grounds was dedicated June 22, 1901, to the South Dakota Federation of Women's Clubs. The guide points out TRILEY FOOT, explaining that here the president put her foot down on allowing anyone to take relics from the Cave.
The next point of interest is the TOBOGGAN SLIDE, where not a few go coasting.
Lover's of art go into ecstasies as their eyes feast upon the delicate frost work so plentiful in the FAIRIES' PLAYGROUND.
The DIAMOND FIELDS OF SOUTH AFRICA urge the delighted traveler more refreshment to labor as the sparkling gems flash the signal, "Come and get me". But the rules are rigid. None are allowed to take even a grain of sand. Each underground tourist is expected to shake the dust from his feet on making his exit, lest the strict order of the U.S. Government be abrogated.
That all persons may have due warning, the following notice, 17 x 23 inches in size, printed on linen, has been posted in many conspicuous places about the hotel and cave entrance.
These lands, viz: Section one (1) and the S.E. ¼ of the N.E. ¼ and lot one (1) of section two (2), township six (6) south, range five (5) east, Black Hills Meridian, having been withdrawn from settlement, entry, and other disposal, are, together with
except where title has passed from the government by patent, and are open to the public without any restrictions except hereinafter set forth.
NO SPECIAL OR EXCLUSIVE PRIVILEGES WILL BE GRANTED
All persons are prohibited under penalty of the law from charging or receiving any fee or other valuable consideration for the privileges of visiting the Cave or any part of these premises; and from removing therefrom or in any way disturbing any natural curiosities, specimens, or objects of interest.
ALL PERSONS ARE LIABLE TO BE PROSECUTED
to the fullest extent of the law who commit within the Cave or upon these premises any trepass whatever, who remove specimens or natural curiosities therefrom, or work in any manner whatever any injury, waste, or damage of any kind to these lands or to the government property thereon.
J.I.P. Binger Hermann,
Thus the specimen hunter is barred. Were it otherwise, the temptation would be so strong that in a few years nothing would be left but a hole in the ground, indicating the dying scenes of an aged geyser.
Returning from the Fair Grounds we descend the ALPINE PASS or MERRY-GO-ROUND where many a hero and heroine has not wished for home. "If wishes were horses beggars might ride." does not apply in Wind Cave, for here we long to linger, drinking in new beauty, and lading the argosies of memory deck deep with the choicest jewels from a hitherto unknown world. It is with sorrow that we bid good bye to the Cave for we have learned to love its starry grottoes and domes, its royal arbors, magnificent palaces with splendid upholstering and drapery.
The Pearly Gates Route
THE LONGEST ROUTE, TIME ABOUT SIX HOURS—EMBRACES GARDEN OF EDEN ROUTE TO CROSS ROADS AND FAIR GROUNDS ROUTE TO ASSEMBLY ROOM, TOGETHER WITH TWENTY-SIX ADDITIONAL MARVELS—SEVENTY-SIX POINTS OF INTEREST ON THIS ROUTE.
The Pearly Gates Route is the longest of the three, requiring about six hours to complete it. It embraces the Garden of Eden Route as far as the Cross Roads, and the Fair Grounds Route as far as the Assembly Room, besides twenty-four other points of varying interest which, excepting the Blue Grotto, are reached on this route exclusively. This is the most difficult route of the three to travel, and children are not permitted to attempt it; infants are checked and cared for at the hotel while parents make the trip.
Leaving the Fair Grounds Route at the Assembly Room we pass under the Bridge of Sighs and find ourselves in CASTLE GARDEN. This is a large room of blue formation, in which may by seen SAWYER'S SEA SERPENT.
A story is told of a venturesome lady who frequented the Cave. She knew the route as far as the M.E. CHURCH, whiter she decoyed her lover who was sixteen years her senior. There she put out the lights, and addressed the following point-blank question to her trembling, frightened comrade. "Won't you be mine forever?" He replied, "Yes, for heaven's sake, if you'll only take me out." She gained a point by substituting darkness for leap year.
From Castle Garden a rugged country is traveled leading to the famous BLUE GROTTO, where the most beautiful of the box-work formations are found. The body of the box-work being dark, the pearly coating of calcite blends with the base, dolomite, upon which it is deposited, producing a product altogether lovely. Even if time must be borrowed, you will never regret taking the Pearly Gates Route via the Blue Grotto. It can not be described. It must be seen.
Bidding this gem of the Cave a sorrowful good bye, we pass CENTENNIAL HALL, with its colored fossiliferous formations, and CHAMBER DE NORKET with its large, lofty ceilings, and enter UNION COLLEGE, where the bell is always ready but never rings. Here stands FAN ROCK, eight feet high, six feet wide, with a base one foot square, always open for the use of the tired college girl. Here also is the LETTER BOX, a very useful accessory to college equipment. The box is sealed open by nature; permitting all students to receive or send mail uncensored.
Beyond Union College is the Y.M.C.A. HALL, a few steps from which is the EPWORTH LEAGUE PAVILION, having a large main room with four smaller ones, corresponding with the four departments of the Epworth League. Next in order is the WOODMEN HALL, dedicated in 1897 by the M.W.A. Its chief characteristic, other than the formations omnipresent, is the FRENCH COACH HORSE which lies by the wayside en route to Klondike.
The rooms next in order are named in honor of the Daughters of the American Revolution, The Martha Washington Memorial University, and The Knights of Pythias.
Near these rooms is the STANDING ROCK CHAMBER, which contains the EAGLE, the POLAR BEAR, and the CHIMES, together with the rock twenty-five feet high, which gives it its name. Here Johnstone found the pin head under the American Eagle after a three days' hunt.
A GREYHOUND stand in the passage way leading to MERMAIDS' RESORT, a nook that seems to make one grow young in spite of time's advance. This bower is roofed with crystals, lacelike, encrusted with white frosting resembling swan's-down. Imagine a canopy studded with miniature cedar trees, their tops downward hanging, spreading, and meeting each other, the roots in the ceiling, and all snow white, with an orange shade in the background, and you have a slight conception of nature's extravagance at almost the farthest point on the longest traveled route in Wind Cave. Great care is manifested by the guides, and not all who start on the Pearly Gates Route are permitted to see that promised land. If the party proves during the first few miles that it will desist from all evidences of vandalism, it may, with great precaution, be trusted to view, without resorting to spoliation, this shrine of the Mermaids.
Passing through the CHICAGO PORTRAIT ROOM and STABLER'S PASS we reach ST. DOMANIC CHAMBER, the home of the HORNETS' NEST, and the sight of several geodes.
Just beyond or toward the Fair Grounds Route is the CROWN CHAMBER with a MOOSE HEAD, and the UNITED COMMERCIAL TRAVELERS' CHAMBER with a LADY'S EASTER BONNET on a three-eights tilt.
By retracing our steps, we reach the TABERNACLE, the largest chamber on the Pearly Gates Route.
At the end of the Tabernacle is the climax of the entire route, THE PEARLY GATES. Lighted with magnesium, the pearly-tinted, calcite-coated boulders, leaning in the form of an arch, thrill one with awe. A U.S. senator stood before those gates, amazed at the spectacle; but his amazement was changed to complete fright when the sweet strains of "Nearer, My God, to Thee" were wafted out toward him from a choir which had taken its position without his knowledge above and slightly beyond the nature-frescoed Pearly Gates. The senator admitted that his hair began to stand on end. Doubtless he preferred to occupy his seat in the senate rather than sweep through Pearly Gates to SAINTS' REST.
Near the Tabernacle is the CHRISTION ENDEAVOR ROOM, beautified with white box-work; and further on and to the left of Saints' Rest is the finest crystal formation in the Cave. It surpasses spider-web or silk in fineness, and measures about two feet. It is called NOAH'S BEARD. It, too, is protected with the greatest care, none being permitted to approach too close lest the breath destroy this very delicate formation. This route is not always traveled in the order given, especially the latter part surrounding the Tabernacle.
Visiting the attractions in any desired order, one is delighted beyond the power of expression, but regrets that nature should have secreted her most perfect and beautiful formations so "far from humanity's reach." Opinion is well divided as to which is the most beautiful and desirable of the three routes. Some prefer the Garden of Eden, some the Fair Grounds, and still others lavish their encomiums upon the Pearly Gates Route, urging without fear of successful contradiction that it is peerless. Regardless of which route possesses the most numerous excellencies, it may be asserted that there is one very noteworthy property possessed by all, that of relieving asthma the minute a patient enters the Cave. Why a colony of asthmatics does not plan to locate in the Cave is an enigma.
The Main Traveled Routes in Outline
GARDEN OF EDEN—FAIR GROUNDS—PEARLY GATES
GARDEN OF EDEN ROUTE
FAIR GROUNDS ROUTE FROM CROSS ROADS
PEARLY GATES ROUTE FROM ASSEMBLY ROOM
The Less Traveled Routes
BEE HIVE—CRYSTAL PALACE—WIND RIVER—GRAND CANYON
The BEE HIVE Route is interesting, but difficult to travel. It leads through rough, craggy, and dismal avenues and chambers. which abundantly permit one to study the Cave as nature left it. Of the one hundred miles explored and the three thousand chambers discovered in Wind Cave, none are as interesting, romantic, or half so difficult of access as the Crystal Palace Route, which extends fifteen miles to the left, beyond the Wind River Route, embracing the Crystal Palace, the Mausoleum, and Columbian Hall. The Grand Canyon Route, with Elephant Hall and Monument Room at its terminus; is a continuation of the Devil's Lookout crevice. Few take this route. Probably not more than one tourist in a thousand dares face the dangers of the 110-foot climb down the perpendicular walls of the Grand Canyon. The ride down Echo River in Mammoth Cave, Ky., might well be classed as the journey of a tenderfoot compared with the Alpine trip of the unique route. The writer will never forget the incidents of that romantic trip down Echo River, nor the descent of Wind Cave's marvel, the Grand Canyon. Having descended the walls of that canyon without a rope, using the guide, however, as a bridge in places, and being seated upon the old elephant's back in Elephant Hall, I said to the guide: "If we should lose our lights, or have them extinguished and have no matches, how would we ever escape from this deep and dangerous subterranean prison?" He replied: "Since I am the only one this side of Montana that knows this route, it is possible, under such circumstances, that centuries might roll by before our unbleached skeletons would be found by some venturesome exploring party and preserved for study as fossils of an extinct race." This rather depressing information unfolded a possible chapter of unwritten history within my imaginative horizon that caused me to tremble with fear. Mental pictures flashed in rapid succession, portraying the vistas of time, in which a black-haired Penelope and a three-year-old boy figured most prominently. I could see them approach this breathing wonder in search of one who had long years before set out to seek, not Trojan honors, but Wind Cave intelligence. No tidings come. All grow hopeless save the one who knits by day and unravels by night. Suitors come and go, but the promise is withheld. The former boy grays with age as years take their flight. But when the summit of the Grand Canyon is scaled, equilibrium of both mind and body is regained and the semi-blood- curdling experiences of the past two hours seem only as a dream.
Hastening over craggy rocks, steep precipices, and deep pits, through apertures impossible of access by the fat man, down declines glacier-like, sprinkled here and there with crystals glittering and pellucid; walking under sparkling diamond formations and between giant columns of stalagmites and stalactites, under towering domes, and through starry grottoes connected by marvelous avenues, we reach the well-beaten path traveled on the regular routes by tens of thousands of tourists, and seek the outer world by ascending the 156 steps whence we started. Our experiences have been wonderful. We return convinced that no pen can portray the Cave's manifold wonders; no artist can do justice to the calcite chalcedony-covered art formations, the snow-white, delicate frost-work with orange-hued background, or the pearly-covered, popcorn-fringed box-work so abundant in the lower tiers of the Cave.
When an outing is under consideration, do not fail to include the wonderful Wind Cave on your itinerary. When a party emerges from the Cave it is common to hear such expressions as, "It is wonderful", "I never dreamed of such a marvel," "Its mazes and marvels surely defy description," "I would not have missed it for $100," etc, etc. An old Dakotan met a party of Kentuckians at the Evans hotel and asked them if they did not want to visit one of the great wonders of the world, Wind Cave, twelve miles away toward Harney Peak. Quick came the reply: "We want you to understand, sir, that we are from Kentucky and live near Mammoth Cave, and if you have anything to show us that approaches the wonder of our native state, we are at your service, sir." This was an opportunity, and he responded, "I will take you out, show you through the Cave, bring you back to the hotel, and if you do not say Wind Cave is the equal of, if not superior to Mammoth Cave, I'll not charge you a copper; otherwise the charge will be $1.50 each." They accepted the proposition, and were so bewildered by the Cave's mazes, marvels, and endless profusion of wonders that their former praise of Mammoth Cave was changed to eulogies of Wind Cave, the unparalleled geological wonder of the world, located twelve miles from Hot Springs, the "Carlsbad of America," amid the entrancing, scenic Black Hills, which are known to art as the "Switzerland of America."
The Switzerland of America
THE BLACK HILLS
The Black Hills have the most ideal scenery on the continent, thereby securing the appellation, "The Switzerland of America." Geology accounts for the Black Hills by postulating a volcanic upheaval when Time was young. Extensive pine forests now cover the scene of a once terrific convulsion. All is quiet now, and the tourists, artists, and lovers of nature for nature's sake, of two hemispheres, flock hither to indulge to the utmost capacity their love of the beautiful, the romantic, the sublime.
Deer have long been partial to this region and still make it the home of their choice. Trout fishing in this "Switzerland" is recognized as unrivaled far and near.
The Carlsbad of America
HOT SPRINGS—INDIAN DIFFICULTIES—SONG OF HIAWATHA
Beautifully located within this renowned "Switzerland" is Hot Springs, the "Carlsbad of America." Here numerous springs pour forth their health-laden waters, for years the bone of contention between hostile Indian tribes, who regarded them as "fountains of perpetual youth." But the iron hand of progressive civilization wrested from the savage horde this El Dorado and substituted magnificent stone edifices for the Indian wigwam.
Not willingly did the red man yield his "happy hunting ground" to the white invader. The approach of winter brought no discomfort to the occupants of the skin-covered tepee, for the sharp-eyed aborigines observed the elk, bison, and deer basking amid the sunlit hilltops, and ejaculated: "Ugh, game heap plenty." Clashes between jealous tribes were not infrequent. Ere the white man molested that paradise, the Indian found those of his own race to be his own worst enemy. Pursuing game through the hills, boundaries were crossed, quarrels ensued, and tomahawks flashed.
Longfellow's "Song of Hiawatha" bristles with allusions to the traditions of this Indian country:
"Should you ask me, whence these stories?
Hotels and Sanitariums
SPRINGS—BATH HOUSE—SOLDIERS' HOME
Putting the best foot first, the Evans, commodious, palatial, and inviting, takes precedence. Erected from solid walls of pink sandstone at the enormous cost of nearly a quarter of a million dollars, it resembles the fabled "Palace of the Gods." No modern convenience has been omitted in its construction and operation. Steam heated, electric lighted, luxuriously furnished, and provided with elevators, the Evans has no apologies to offer. Its menu offers the best that money can buy. It accommodates 350 guests at reasonable rates.
The Evans Sanitarium stands as a helpmeet to the colossal hotel. Possessing every appliance ingenuity can dictate, it offers unsurpassed advantages incident to its field. Medicated baths, needle baths, silver, vapor, and Turkish baths are at your option. It is open also to persons not guests at the hotel.
The Gillespie, just across the bridge from the Evans, is also a modern structure, conveniently located and attractive, presenting an excellent view of Fall River, Battle Mountain, and the adjacent hills. It is run on the American and European plan, and accommodates 200 guests. Rooms range from $.25 to $1.00 per day.
The Hot Springs Hotel offers excellent accommodations, with a cuisine that bespeaks generosity on the part of the management. It accommodates 90 guests. Rates $1.00 to $1.50 per day. Its proximity to the Minnekahta Bath House gives it a unique position.
The Minnekahta, located in the rear of the Hot Springs Hotel, was the original spring used by the Indians, and the one which brought fame to the Minnekahta or Fall River valley. The temperature of the water is abut 98 degrees, and seems to effect the miraculous when applied to human ills.
The word Minnekahta is Indian and means "hot water" (Minne-water; kahta-hot). Before being changed to Hot Springs, the town was called Minnekahta. Far to the eastward, the Indian Medicine Man pointed to the Black Hills and prescribed for his patient a trip to Minnekahta, where health flowed in torrents from the foot of the mountain.
The Hiawatha Hotel and Black Hills Sanitarium have the reputation of being a panacea for all ills. More than 200 guests can be accommodated. Rates $2.00 to $2.50 per day.
There are other hotels and sanitariums quite deserving, but space forbids lengthy individual mention, such as the Stewart Bath House, the Sulphur Springs Bath House, the Siloam Bath House, the Hotel Fargo, the Huebner, Mower, Clifton, Davis, Williams, Minnelusa, Ferguson, and Palace hotels, ranging from $1.00 to $2.00 per day.
The Hygeia Springs, located across the bridge from the Evans and a few rods south of the Gillespie, are doubtless the most popular for drinking purposes in the entire circuit of springs. All day long groups of people may be seen wending their way toward these springs, named in honor of Hygeia, the Goddess of health and daughter of Aesculapius. Rustic seats are close at hand where the health-seeker rests between drinks. This water is shipped, as well as the restoring of their health, have resolved to drink no other.
The Plunge Bath is probably remembered longest by a majority of people. Here a luxury is offered which surpasses sea bathing. The water ranging from 4 ½ to 9 feet, is clear as crystal and very buoyant, being heavily charged with minerals. With a temperature of about 96 degrees, no warming or cooling is required, for the water comes forth properly prepared from the laboratory of nature. The basin is 50 x 200 feet, the water changing every 35 minutes, being fed by numerous springs. Every appliance is provided that the bathers' pleasure may demand. A spring-board, a rope, a float, and the never-to-be-forgotten toboggan slide are free to all, the only charge being $.25 for the use of a dressing room and the bathing privilege. Bathing suits are rented at the office at an additional charge of $.25 to all who come unsupplied. Those who visit Hot Springs and fail to visit the plunge baths miss "an Elysium more pure and bright than that of the Greeks."
The Solders' Home
Recognizing the sanitary excellencies, health-giving springs, and splendid scenery in Hot Springs and vicinity, the visitor asks no questions relative to the reasons for locating the Soldiers' Home here. Surroundings speak in no uncertain tone. The visitor scarcely arrives in the city without inquiring, "What stately building is that yonder on the heights?" Being informed that it is a tribute to the heroic citizen soldiery of the Republic, a resolve is registered to visit it. Many a soldier dwells there, profoundly thankful for the nation's gratitude. An effort has been made to get a bill through Congress appropriating a quarter of a million dollars to erect a National Hospital for invalid soldiers in connection with the Soldiers' Home. Tests have been made by government officials, proving that Hot Springs is the ideal spot of the states for preserving the nation's defenders. All honor to the nation that is not unmindful of services rendered.
The Burlington and the North-Western lines have a beautiful union depot in the heart of the city of Hot Springs, S.D., and only a few rods from the Evans and the Gillespie hotels.
The Burlington runs solid trains daily from Chicago and St. Louis via Lincoln, Neb., Edgemont, S.D., and Billings, Mont. to Spokane, Seattle, Portland, and Tacoma. This train is called the St. Louis-Portland Special. One car is taken from this train daily at Edgemont and attached to a Burlington train bound for Deadwood. Hot Springs passengers take the Deadwood train as far as Minnekahta, sixteen miles north of Edgemont, where a train is in waiting which runs between Minnekahta and Hot Springs only, a distance of thirteen miles. Ticket are sold and baggage checked through to Hot Springs from any point on the Burlington system.
The North-Western Line runs trains daily from Chicago to Deadwood via Omaha, and Buffalo Gap, S.D. Hot Springs passengers change at Buffalo Gap, where a train is in waiting bound for Hot Springs, located thirteen miles from Buffalo Gap. Tickets are sold and baggage checked through to Hot Springs from any point on the North-Western line. Special excursions are frequently billed from Hot Springs by both lines to various Black Hills resorts at remarkably low rates.
During the open season at Sylvan Lake, the Burlington runs special Saturday excursions to Custer, a distance of 42 miles, returning the following Monday, rate $2.05 for the round trip. Sylvan Lake is six miles from Custer and is reached by stage. Those who enjoy boat-riding amid romantic scenery should visit Sylvan Lake, the "Gem of the Hills," where unharnessed nature stalks forth in her wildest mood. One and one-half miles from the Sylvan Lake Hotel is Cathedral Park, a veritable Garden of the Gods, encircled by the Needles, giant shafts whose towering summits both amaze and bewilder the sightseer. Two miles beyond the Needles stand Harney Peak, the highest point in the Black Hills. From its summit, an elevation of 8,200 feet, a splendid view of four states is obtained. On a clear day the horizon leaps beyond Deadwood and White Bear Butte on the north, far out into the Dakota Bad Lands on the east, high over the rugged bluffs of the Niobrara in Nebraska, and westward to the remote highlands of Wyoming and Montana. Nature happily anticipated the wants of mountain climber and wisely provided a refreshing spring only a few feet below this craggy summit of adamantine rock. Much speculation is indulged by geologist is accounting for the extraordinary formations observed between Sylvan Lake and Harney Peak. All agree, however, that it is the product of an upheaval during a very early geological age. The Indian loved the Black Hills, fought for them, but never became brave enough to make this particular Garden of the Gods his haunt.
The hills at large abound in evidences of Indian tenure, but within this scene of frantic nature no traces of Indian occupation have been discovered. The red man's fancy doubtless pictured it as the home of his gods, who lived surrounded by creations of their own handiwork, and were therefore not to be disturbed by the blood-curdling war-whoop of the superstitious Indian.
Last updated: February 8, 2019