Wind Cave National Park Time Line

Before 1881...
  • American Indians of the area have many stories about a hole in the Black Hills that blows wind. Tipi rings near the natural entrance indicate that they knew about Wind Cave.
  • Cave noticed by Tom and Jesse Bingham. They take credit for "discovering" the cave. Later Tom received most of the credit because of Jesse's brush with the law for cattle stealing in 1889.
  • Charlie Crary credited with first entry into the cave.
  • First documentation of a visit into the cave by Custer Chronicle.
  • Hot Springs Star reports Wind Cave is 3 miles long.
  • South Dakota Mining Co., run by Robert B. Moss, establishes mineral claims on cave area.
  • J.D. McDonald, Elmer, Alvin and Mary move to Hot Springs.
  • South Dakota becomes a state.
  • South Dakota Mining Co. under Robert Moss files three claims on land around cave.
  • J.D. McDonald hired as manager of Wind Cave by South Dakota Mining Co. J.D. agrees to file homestead claim on area which he will later deed to the South Dakota Mining Co.
  • Moss and McDonald disagree and McDonald assumes the claim.
  • Chris Jensen begins stage route to Wind Cave.
  • Stablers move to Hot Springs in June, manage Parrott Hotel starting July 4, and visit cave during the summer.
  • First religious services in Methodist Church room.
  • Stablers take homesteads around cave.
  • Areas around cave surveyed, prior title by possession only.
  • Stabler buys a half or a third interest in Wind Cave.
  • Wonderful Wind Cave Improvement Company established.
  • William Jennings Bryan and Governor Lee visit cave.
  • Discovery of Fairgrounds.
  • Petrified man, found "north of the cave", exhibited in the cave for $0.25. Later exhibited in Hot Springs and then sold by John Stabler to a man in Kansas.
  • Stabler or Wind Cave Hotel built and opened in 1895.
  • R.B. Moss files against the Wonderful Wind Cave Improvement Company.
  • Professor Paul Alexander Johnstone finds a lady's hat pin hidden in the cave.
  • Peter Folsom files mining liens on South Dakota Mining Co. and Moss for failure to pay for assays, liens include Wind Cave.
  • SD Mining Co. vs McDonald suit is dropped.
  • Alvin McDonald dies on December 15th at the age of 20.
  • J.D. files on homestead. J.D. and Elmer McDonald and George and John Stabler file on Wind Cave property.
  • Peter Folsom purchases claims of SD Mining Co.
  • G.A. Moss does not appear in court to contest Wind Cave ownership.
  • Wind Cave case-McDonald/Stabler vs SD Mining Co. postponed.
  • Statue of Alvah McDonald completed by sculptor Riordan from Evans pink sandstone.
  • Court confirms Folsom purchase of title for Wind Cave and other Moss claims.
  • J.D.'s mother patents homestead west of Elmer McDonald's.
  • J.D. probably secured receiver's receipt for his homestead.
  • SD Mining Co. vs J.D. McDonald case is decided in favor of McDonald.
  • John La Favre receiver of US Land Office at Rapid City states Wind Cave property ownership is uncertain. McDonald was at Wind Cave before the land was surveyed and held the land by squatter's rights making final proof in June 1895 and claiming it as an agricultural homestead. SD Mining Co. had a mineral claim and argued that McDonald had claimed the land as agricultural while assessing it for another party for a mineral claim.
  • Aug. 16 Luella Agnes Owen, geologist, visits cave. Her theory on cave formation involves geyser activity.
  • Conflict continues between McDonald and Stabler. McDonald has Stabler arrested; Stabler gains possession of the cave.
  • Stablers join with Folsom - file new mining certificates.
  • Court sets aside McDonald's receiver's receipt.
  • J.D. and Elmer file against Stablers in March and April.
  • Folsom counterfiles McDonald.
  • Sheriff Wallace takes possession of cave by court order and turns it over to Folsom.
  • Black Hills Wind Cave Co. of Custer County formed by Folsom, Stablers and Peter Paulsen.
  • Elmer McDonald works as guide for above company.
  • SD School of Mines publishes 19 page report on Wind Cave.
  • General Land Office agent C.W. Greene reports no evidence of legitimate mining development at Wind Cave. McDonald wins in the SD Mining Co. vs McDonald case. McDonald's homestead entry canceled because of lack of good faith in occupying the homestead.


1900 to 1909

  • J.D. and son, Roy hid in cave for 24 hours after attempting to hold cabin at Wind Cave.
  • Secretary of Interior, Hitchcock confirms land office decision. He states neither party is entitled to the land as the land was not mined and McDonald did not comply with the terms of the Homestead Act.
  • Permanent withdrawal by US 1000 acres of land around cave entrance from mineral or agricultural entry.
  • Col. C.W. Green, Dept. of the Interior, is placed in charge of the cave. C.L. Jensen is made the general supervisor and George Stabler and Elmer McDonald work as guides. There is no fee to enter the cave.
  • US government decides to survey Wind Cave.
  • John Stabler dies - little family opposition to park idea.
  • Claims of Elmer and J.D. McDonald canceled because of inadequate evidence.
  • First government survey of cave completed in April.
  • Bill to establish Wind Cave National Park passes the US Senate and House of Representatives.
  • Captain Seth Bullock becomes the new supervisor of Wind Cave and appoints George Boland as the area ranger.
  • George Stabler, Elmer McDonald and Peter Paulsen work as guides and are allowed to charge visitors $ 0.50.
  • Wind Cave enabling legislation passes and signed by President Theodore Roosevelt on January 9, creating Wind Cave National Park. Park includes 10,522.17 acres. Wind Cave becomes the first cave to become a national park in the world.
  • William A. Rankin - Superintendent (Aug. 1)
  • Cave tour fee $0.50.
  • Irene B. Rankin granted first food concession. Noon meals are $0.50 and she continues until 1908.
  • Earthquake causes rockfall in cave on Oct. 25th.
  • Joseph E. Pilcher - Superintendent (May 1).

1910 to 1919



  • Rufus J. Pilcher - Superintendent (March 26).
  • General Pershing visits cave with pocket aneroid barometer, guides refuse to believe cave room depths.
  • Forest fire over 2,500 acres in park, started outside south boundary and burned close to the cave (March 23-25).
  • A.C. Boland - Superintendent (May 1).
  • J. Alden Loring's report on land in SD suitable for a game preserve sent to Franklin W. Hooper, American Bison Society.
  • Two new flagpoles were installed. One at the Superintendent's residence and one at the South boundary of the park.
  • William M. Boland - Acting Superintendent (June 11).
  • Wind Cave National Game Preserve established within current park boundary under administration of the US Biological Survey, Dept. of Agriculture.
  • A barn for the use of the Superintendent was completed during the year.
  • Fred Merle - Custodian (Nov. 15).
  • Frederick N. Dille - Acting Superintendent (Dec. 2).
  • National Bison Society sends 14 bison from New York Zoological Gardens.
  • A registration office was built - frame building 20' X 40' - the Old Hotel.
  • The People's Telephone & Telegraph Co. built a new telephone line from the south boundary to the Superintendent's house.
  • Thomas W. Brazell - Superintendent (Aug. 1).
  • Ester Cleveland Brazell - ranger guide at Wind Cave, possibly making her the first woman to hold the title of ranger in the National Park Service.
  • 21 elk arrive from Jackson Hole, WY.
  • 13 pronghorn arrive from Brooks, Alberta sent by the Boone and Crockett Club of New York.
  • A small rectangular pavilion was constructed.
  • Built an ice house - 12' X 12' X 10' high.
  • An underground reservoir of masonry one-foot thick with capacity of 450 barrels was built and connected to new sanitary drinking fountain near public building. The new reservoir is located 70' above and 300 feet distant from the park residence.
  • Water source is ½ mile west of and 150' higher than the park residence. Spring put out about 40 barrels per day. Now with both new & old reservoirs park has capacity to store 800 barrels of water.
  • T.E. Brazell - Superintendent (March 16).
  • 25 elk arrive from Yellowstone NP.
  • 9 pronghorn arrive from Alberta, Canada.
  • 6 bison arrive from Yellowstone NP.
  • Rockfall occurs at entrance on March 26.
  • Organic Act establishes the National Park Service in the Department of the Interior on August 25.
  • Water flow increased to about 50 barrels average for 15 months and is now up to 76 barrels per day.
  • Beginning June 1st cave fees were reduced to .25 per customer (.50 was old charge)
  • "It is the custom for authorized guides to conduct visitors through the cave, and as a trip requires about three hours, but two trips each day are made. The established time of entrance is at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. As a great many auto tourists do not know of the established time for cave trips, they cannot mange to get here at the right time and often do not wait for the trip and cannot be accommodated unless extra guides are available. The widest publicity should be given as to time of entrance to the cave which would result in eliminating a great deal of disappointment and a very substantial increase in the number of visitors to the interior if the cave."
  • One of four large bridges (#4) was replaced by permanent earth fill and masonry arched culvert.
  • Inside closets (anti-freeze) have been installed in the administrative buildings and modern septic vaults and disposal drains have been provided for the reception of sewer from both residence and administrative buildings.
  • Supply pipe from spring to reservoir replaced at depth of 4'.
  • A roomy corral was built.
  • A footbridge was built across gulch from the administrative building to Alvin McDonald's statue was built.
  • Taulbet and Coventry constructed in Administration building (April).
  • 10-car auto shelter completed (July).
  • "By order of the State authorities the cave was closed to the public on account of quarantine against Spanish influenza" (October 20).
  • Road through the park is 6 miles long and is part of the Denver-Deadwood highway.
  • Animals in game preserve - 54 bison, 100 elk, 21 antelope.
  • "A big sign was constructed on the west slope of the big steep hill just east of the entrance to the cave which is a great benefit to the traveling public." Letters are 20' high (June).

1920 to 1929

  • Supt. Brazell reports 1500' depths and over 100 cave miles.
  • Two mild tremors are felt in cave on July 14 and Aug. 30, but no resultant damage found.
  • Custer State Park Game Preserve established north of Wind Cave with 5,800 acres.
  • Wedding in the Garden of Eden in May.
  • Visitors to the park were Baron Eugen Fersen and his mother, Baroness Medem, of Moscow, Russia (August 16).
  • Lots of snow - drifts up to 25' deep were not uncommon.
  • Park officials made their first arrest. Two men who stole a new car in Rapid City and were passing bad checks were turned over to the Sheriff (September 29).
  • "The striking feature of this season's travel was the remarkable increase of motoring tourists and the disastrous decrement of train travel. This year's record shows an increase in motoring and camping tourists of over 34% and a decrease in train travel of over 40%."
  • Fossil Cycad NM established under Wind Cave management.
  • Present concessionaire is Roy W. Juckett. The concession is a permit to haul for hire, passengers from Hot Springs to Wind Cave and return.
  • E.A. Fuson - refreshment concessionaire.
  • Over 92% of cave visitors came to the park in private automobiles.
  • Revenues from all sources totaled $4,109.25.
  • Number of visitors to this park has more than doubled in the past five years.
  • 130 buffalo, 7 antelope, 2 deer & approximately 300 elk.
  • "An adequate electric lighting system for the cave should be installed at the earliest practicable date. This is very important. A good draft team, harness and wagon should also be purchased."
  • 126 buffalo, 250 elk, 13 antelope.
  • New house over entrance to the cave was built.
  • Fee raised to .50 on September 1.
  • Nearly all 51+ miles of road was reconstructed this year.
  • Had to start hauling water to meet demand.
  • 148 buffalo, 143 elk, 23 antelope.
  • Anton J. Snyder - Superintendent (June 10) reports cave discovered in 1881 by John Wells, formed by hot water, and 108 miles in length.
  • Water shortage/limited supply 800 gal/day 500 visitors/day.
  • Permanent employees - Superintendent & 1 ranger - 12 seasonal rangers hired.
  • Stephen T. Mather, Director of the NPS, paid visit to Wind Cave National Park in July 27.
  • Norbeck Dam constructed, forming Lake Ta-Tan-Ka. Contract was awarded to Gould and Herrin of Denver.
  • Mt. Rushmore NMem authorized under Wind Cave management.
  • 175 buffalo, 95 elk, 25 antelope.
  • First time that hay had to be fed to game animals.
  • Park road was reconstructed and new gravel added.
  • The newly constructed road between the north boundary and Pringle was opened for travel in May. It is now 9 miles long not 13 miles.
  • Contract has been let to the Northwest Engineering Company of Kadoka, SD for the construction of the concrete arch bridge to span Beaver Creek Canyon.

1930 to 1939

  • Concessionaire - C.C. Gideon.
  • Funds appropriated for resurfacing roads, construction of water and sewer systems, electric lights for cave and a ranger dormitory.
  • 100 buffalo, 80 elk, 30 antelope.
  • Edward D. Freeland - Superintendent (March 16).
  • Park boundary changed (includes Beaver Creek Canyon area), park is 11,818,94 acres.
  • First electric lighting system installed.
  • Finished grading and surfacing the north-south highway.
  • Constructed a complete water and sewer system. A 2" water main was laid at a depth of 4' from the main. 4" line to the powerhouse and new dormitory site.
  • Kepp Construction Company received the contract to construct the ranger's dormitory/mess house and completed the building on Sept. 5th.
  • Agreement signed with McAdams to sell government 2 springs and 101 acres.
  • Added a permanent clerk to park staff on May 31, 1931.
  • Fire hydrants were installed with the new water system. "This new water and sewer system should take care of all sewer and water problems for years to come."
  • Power plant constructed of natural stone and stucco
  • Set aside an area to serve as a campground.
  • Spring water system was constructed ($50,000) - (Cost was $43,300-turned back $ 6,700). Surplus water directed to the artificial lake known as the buffalo reservoir.
  • Construction included an employee's residence (Q-07) and a two-car garage attached to the Superintendent residence.
  • 200 buffalo, 50 elk, 50 antelope.
  • Lawns were planted in May at the ranger dormitory, the new employee residence and the old employee's residences.
  • 2 ¾ miles of fence was constructed around the Upper Spring Area.
  • The north-south highway was oiled.
  • Director Albright visited the Park in September 1932.
  • Jewel Cave NM transferred from USDA to USDI.
  • Wind Cave Lake was nearly filled by spring rain. In June a Ranger was detailed there on hot days as a lifeguard.
  • Road surface was given a palliative oil treatment (October 31).
  • Started work on "Custer-Newcastle Approach Road" 8.6 miles.
  • Old car shelter, oil and icehouse were moved to a location less conspicuous.
  • Work on the Civil Work Project began on December 11th with 44 men.
  • Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp established at WICA (July 16).
  • Work began on 204 foot elevator shaft (August 20).
  • Jewel Cave National Monument was placed under jurisdiction of this office.
  • Under Public Works project, $222,100 was allocated for: Two employee quarters (Q-03, Q-06) and machine shop shed, elevator installation with power house, Administrative Building, highway surfacing and widening and construction of cave trails.
  • 5000 brook trout were planted in Beaver and Cold Spring Creeks.
  • Director Cammerer visited the Park on July 13.
  • Wind Cave NP gains authority over Game Preserve lands on June 15 ending dual authority on the land.
  • Otis elevator installed, it travels 700 feet/minute and carries 12 people. Elevator installation with power house and 120 HP diesel engine - Cost $ 71,996.63 + $2,500.00. The concrete lining of the elevator shaft was completed in April. Installation of the elevator by Otis Elevator Company was completed in October.
  • Concrete stairs and iron railings installed in cave to replace wooden ones.
  • VIP Center completed as power house for elevator.
  • Administration Building construction begins. Contractor was Henry Carlson Company, cost $35,987.00.
  • Constructed new Superintendent's Residence (Q-03).
  • Constructed new employee's residence (Q-06).
  • Constructed 9 car machine shop shed.
  • Total cost of all three was $19,475.89, under contract.
  • ECW Camp D-NP-1 was established near park headquarters on July 16.
  • Severe drought in 1933 & 1934 continued in 1935.
  • The new 25,000-gallon reservoir was completed.
  • The foundation of the old residence (Q-05) was completed and the building was moved in February.
  • Installing sprinkler systems in the residence area kept 15 men busy in February.
  • CCC accomplishments - remodeled an old shingled residence, planted 5,000 trees and shrubs in headquarters area, sloping more than 35,000 sq. yds. of road shoulders, obliteration of several old roads and borrow pits and improvement of 1-1/2 miles of cave trails by installing concrete stairs with iron railings.
  • Monthly Narrative Report of December: First elevator breakdown occurred on December 15, 1935. Problem was "a defective resistance coil and the precipitation of moisture on switches and other controls from the cooling of the warm moist air rising through the shaft from the Cave." It now appears that this trouble will recur frequently during cold weather unless the elevator door openings at both landings in the cave are made airtight by the construction of special entryways resembling storm doors. It is contemplated that this work will be done in January.
  • Cave entrance reconstructed - trap door replaced with "natural looking" entrance.
  • Rewiring of long route begun.
  • Rock fall at entrance on March 1st.
  • Cave tour fee $0.75.
  • CCC Camp won the CCC baseball championship for South Dakota.
  • In January, nine street light poles and fixtures were erected at 125' intervals along the entire length of the parking lot.
  • The headquarters enclosure fence was completed.
  • Footbridge from Administration building to cave entrance was completed.
  • CCC Projects: Fencing of park boundary project was completed; a small basement under one of the headquarters residences was enlarged to make room for storage and laundry facilities; the old 75-foot flight of wooden stairs just inside the cave entrance was completely replaced with concrete.
  • The stone terrace in front of the ranger clubhouse was completed in September.
  • A small basement was excavated under the clerk's residence and the Arcals heating plant moved in.
  • New cable put on long route by CCC.
  • Small campground built north of cave entrance by CCC, now the picnic area.
  • CCC Projects: Dormitory room constructed in Ranger's Clubhouse; the incinerator at the utility area was completed; basement was excavated in the Ranger's Clubhouse for relocating the furnace; betterment of cave trails; construction of stone walks in parking lot; transplanting of trees; information sign and construction of reservoir.
  • The old fireplace in the Ranger's Clubhouse living room was torn out and a new one constructed.
  • The old Ranger dormitory is being remodeled for use as a residence. The basement retaining walls were completed in March.
  • The first annual encampment of Lakota took place on July 18-22 with 55 people in attendance.
  • Construction of the new elevator building began in December.
  • Second Annual encampment of Lakota from Pine Ridge.
  • Park took over maintenance of park roads on July 1.
  • CCC crews completed the box culvert in the utility area (lagoon area) in December.
  • The underground garage (Fire equipment) was completed in November.
  • The elevator building was completed in December by CCC labor. Statistics: Building time: 10 months; 210 working days; Expenditures: 4,900 man days @$2.00/day= $9,800.00; Materials =$ 3,786.62; Supervisor = $4,500.00; Total cost of the building = $18,086.62.
  • Harry J Liek - Superintendent (May 18).
  • Model made of cave room (Model Room) for V.C. exhibit.
  • Badlands NM established under Wind Cave management.
  • CCC projects completed: 100 yards of stone guardrail were installed on either side of Administration Building.; 102 trees were planted in the vicinity of the headquarters area; sewage disposal system and sewerline extension with a plant for disposal were installed.
  • Utility Garage "A" - 2 story, 12 stall garage was under construction but not completed in FY39.
  • Water supply from Upper McAdam Spring decreased from a recorded maximum of 24,000 gal/day to 7,000 to 8,000 gal/day between May & August.
  • January 25, 1939 - Badlands was made a National Monument

1940 to 1949

  • Projects completed: Garages "A" & "C", filtration plant, spring development and 2.5 miles of underground telephone lines leading through the park.
  • CCC Projects nearing completion: headquarters area landscaping, oil house, service road and fenced utility area.
  • Addition to Superintendent's house (Sun Room).
  • Fire Tower on Elk Mountain.
  • Telephone to utility area.
  • 119 buffalo, 150 elk, 75 antelope.
  • Water supply was a serious problem throughout the summer. The upper McAdams springs was only pumping 2700 gal/day in August. 5000 gal/day were hauled from Hot Springs.
  • CCC Projects completed before CCC ended; Garages A & C in Utility Area, Slow Sand Filter, Coal bunker, Utility area, Spring development, Pit Toilets, Campground Area.
  • The installation of the massive wooden door at the cave entrance was completed on July 13th.
  • CCC Camp was abandoned on October 31, 1939.
  • Rained at the spring - Upper McAdams spring went up to 37,400 gals/day in June compared to 9,750 gal/day in June 1940.
  • Projects completed by CCC's side-camp SP-3 (Custer State Park): finished stone guard rail, Utility area service road, oil house, Utility area fence, Clean-up of tornado area, repairs to incinerator, tree planting, replacement of 3000' of electric cable in cave, resurfacing cave trails and enlargement of Superintendent's residence basement.
  • CCC camp closed.
  • Two murals, painted by wildlife artist Walter A. Weber, were donated.
  • Cave tour fees reduced from $.75 to $.50.
  • 163 buffalo, 180 elk, 135 antelope.
  • CCC work from other camps completed: Obliteration of the old CCC Camp, razing of old warehouse at utility area, rock crushing for road maintenance, telephone line to utility area from headquarters, buffalo corral improvements.
  • Superintendent from Wind Cave supervised Wind Cave, Mt. Rushmore, Badlands & Jewel Cave.
  • Visitation dropped by 50.88% from 19,174 in 1942 to 9,757.
  • A 5-ton rock was dislodged by frost action and blocked the cave at the foot of the first flight of stairs.
  • Maintenance problems: electrical generating units had numerous breakdowns, water filling the sump at the foot of elevator shaft, deterioration of road from heavy truck traffic.
  • Sawdust burners were installed in 5 residences to save from buying fuel oil.
  • A small amount of water continues to seep through the wall of the elevator shaft (first occurred in 1943).
  • Buffalo tested for brucellosis results showed that 85% of herd might be reactors.
  • Maintenance on Game Fence started.
  • Park boundary expanded to include most of Custer Recreational Demonstration Area and Federal Game Sanctuary (28,059.26 acres).
  • Concession opened for the first time since the 1942 travel season.
  • A large 8-ton limestone fragment broke off and blocked the trail near the walk-in entrance.
  • Tentative plans for making a double cave entrance door are in the making.
  • Brucellosis infection in bison herd is being brought under control by vaccinating all calves.
  • Maintenance of Game Fence is still #1 priority on our maintenance and rehabilitation programs.
  • Interior finish of the Elevator Building has suffered much damage from the moisture carried up the shaft.
  • Devil's Tower NM established in 1906, put under Wind Cave management.
  • Park visitation and usage increased 305% over the last pre-war travel years. 85,144 visitors entered the park.
  • On August 9, 1946 Park was increased from 11,718 acres to 28,059 acres.
  • Poaching has become a serious problem.
  • Highway patrol was discontinued due to need of using all rangers for guide duty; consequently, there was much indiscriminate driving off the road.
  • June 20 - 4.25" of rain fell in 4 hrs and 3.25" in the next 30 hours. It caused damage to water and sewer lines, telephone lines, washed out surfacing and destroyed electrical wires in first 500' of cave, destroyed 10 flood gates and washed out section of North-South highway, destroyed many sections of fence. Cost of repair will be $10,000 -$15,000.
  • The elevator was the cause of considerable concern and failed to operate properly much of the time. Much work needs to be done in addition to the usual quarterly inspections. It is believed that a safety test is needed, as such a test has not been made since the installation of the elevators.
  • Floodgates in fence all need to be replaced.
  • Black Hills Power & Light Co. completed construction of their line to the park in November. Park has received 24-hr. electrical service since that date. Cost less than running our old diesel unit 16 hrs/day.
  • Wind Cave Superintendent supervised Badlands, Devils Tower, Fossil Cycad and Jewel Cave National Monuments and Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
  • Poaching of park animals continues to be a vexing problem.
  • Building rehabilitation consisted of interior & exterior painting of the Administrative Building and some of the residential buildings.
  • The bulk of the flood damage incurred on June 20, 1947 was cleaned up and repaired.
  • The North-South highway requires extensive repairs. It is the poorest stretch on U.S. 85A between Edgemont and Custer, SD.

1950 to 1959

  • William J. Watson - Acting Superintendent (May 5).
  • Earl M. Semingsen - Superintendent (July 23).
  • 12 pronghorn arrive from Yellowstone NP.
  • Heating and hot water systems were modernized in various residences. Two residences were re-wired.
  • Funds appropriated and allotted for construction of new boundary fence. 50% of work completed at the close of the fiscal year.
  • Original fire lookout station built on Rankin Ridge consisting of cedar pole topped with crows nest.
  • Natural History Association formed.
  • Revenues collected from fees for guide and elevator services were approx. $25,135.20.
  • Automatic traffic counters installed on the highways.
  • Construction of new wildlife boundary fence was completed at the close of the fiscal year.
  • Rehabilitation projects completed included (1) complete repair, redecoration and renovation of the elevator shaft and building, (2) premix surfacing of foot trail from Administrative Building to Elevator Building, (3) insulation of 8 residential and administrative office buildings with Insol-Fiber and new windows for two residences (4) reline incinerator.
  • Surface seal coating of park highways completed.
  • Acquisition of Highway 87 from old North boundary to the new North boundary was made from State and County authorities, as well as Routes 65 & 66 in the newly acquired land area.
  • Golden Anniversary of Wind Cave NP celebrated with "Show Me Days" and Lakota ceremony.
  • "With the arrival of the newly approved quarters rental rates for Government-owned buildings, employees morale hit the lowest ebb in the history of the Park. (AR-FY53) Rates increased over 100%.
  • 100 buffalo and 30 elk were released into the State Park. The buffalo herd now stands at 412 animals + this years calves. Elk number between 1000 and 1200 + arriving calves crop.
  • Rankin Ridge Fire lookout station was established and radio-equipped.
  • Contracts completed: rebuilding of new cattleguard; reconstruction of boundary fence and utility roadwork.
  • Beginning June 16, the guide and elevator fees were increased from .50 to .75 including tax.
  • A new cave entrance historical sign was constructed and erected at the discovery "Blow Hole".
  • One trailer house was purchased for seasonal ranger quarters.
  • A new 5000-gallon oil storage tank was purchased for Wind Cave.
  • Water source supply for park use declined to approx. 5000 gal/day and consumption totaled 8000 gal/day.
  • Walt Disney Production announced the completion of the movie entitled "The Vanishing Prairie" which was largely photographed in the Park.
  • The Superintendent was re-assigned the immediate control and administrative responsibility for Jewel Cave and Fossil Cycad National Monument's with the closing of the Black Hills area office at Rapid City on April 24, 1954.
  • "Thousands of park visitors are turned away and/or decline taking advantage of the cavern tour due to the lack of guide service. Less than 65 for every 1000 that travel through the park by motor vehicle can be accommodated to visit the cavern."
  • A new roadside Prairie Dog Exhibit was constructed at the Norbeck Prairie Dog Town.
  • 208 buffalo were baited into Custer State Park and 20% of this number were slaughtered for distribution to Indian groups and organizations. Custer State Park crews, supervised by Park rangers, to reduce the herd to approximately 400 animals killed approximately 700 elk in the Park.
  • Three black-footed ferrets were released in the Park. (??? by Walt Disney Productions Inc.)
  • Third rewiring project started, completed in early 1956.
  • Millionth visitor took cave trip on Aug 10.
  • 240,000 gallons of drinking water was hauled to the Park from Hot Springs.
  • The prairie dog town parking area project was nearly completed at the close of the fiscal year.
  • Steel tower replaces wooden pole lookout on Rankin Ridge.
  • Highway 87 opened, connecting Custer State Park and WICA.
  • Photo floods put in Temple Room in the cave.
  • Black light demonstration put in at Frostwork Ledge in Fairgrounds Room in the cave.
  • Cave Re-wiring Project was completed in March.
  • Drilling of a water well started in December 1955 and was completed in April 1956. 791 feet deep with a maximum yield of 39 gallons/minute.
  • Contract was awarded for highway construction, Route 2, North Entrance Road. This project will eliminate the last stretch of surface highway linking Custer State Park to Wind Cave National Park.
  • Automatic dial telephone was installed in the Park.
  • Fossil Cycad NM turned over to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on September 1.
  • The new North Entrance Road was completed. (Park Route 2; State Highway 87).
  • The new water well in Wind Cave Canyon and the pipeline to tie it to the present water system were completed in March.
  • A memorial plaque to Alvin McDonald was erected at the grave in July.
  • Seven routed interpretive signs were installed at six parking areas on the new Entrance Road.
  • FM radio mobile units were installed in six vehicles.
  • Black Hills Power installed new overhead power lines to the residential area, Administrative building and utility buildings.
  • A conversion and consolidation of the carpenter, plumbing and mechanical shops was completed.
  • New steps were constructed from the South parking area to the Elevator Trail.
  • A new back porch was constructed on Residence 3.
  • A new heating system was installed in the garage and repair shop.
  • ** The new water well and pipeline, the North Entrance Road and the construction of the new roadside trail signs were MISSION 66 Projects.
  • Cave tours were discontinued for the first time from November 1, 1957 to March 31, 1958.
  • Interpretive road patrols were started for the first time.
  • Harley Emick - Seasonal Fire Aid.
  • A 46' long culvert was installed and replaced washed out bridge on Route 6.
  • Eight roadside signs were pushed over by a car. (Vandalism).
  • All surfaced trails in headquarters area were seal coated.
  • Routes 5 & 6 were graded and reshaped.
  • The utility yard was enlarged and fenced.
  • Residence #8 was provided with new drain and a concrete floor.
  • MISSION 66 Projects: The Construction Roadside Trail Sign Project exhibits with the stone bases was finished at the end of June, the Reconstruction Cave Entrance and Trails Project was finished, the heating of the Elevator Building was completed, Elevator #1 and #2 Project was contracted with Carter Elevator for $110,868.
  • Second elevator installed.
  • NSS Expedition to Wind Cave
  • Park received one of the large bronze Stephen T. Mather plaques.
  • The cattle guards at all six entrances were painted yellow as a highway safety measure.
  • A new 10-car employee parking area was constructed adjacent to the elevator building.
  • 857 steps in the cave were painted yellow along the riser edge as a safety measure.
  • The elevator building was completely renovated on the interior and exterior and all three levels were painted.
  • The plastered ceiling in the Maintenance Supervisor office, the oil storage house and portions of the ceiling in the Concession portion of the Administration building fell and were repaired.
  • MISSION 66 Projects: The three roadside entrance and one double exhibit signs were completed; Game Ranch obliterated; Buffalo Corral obliterated; O'Neal property purchased.
  • The project for the installation of a completely new elevator and the remodeling of the old was stalled on September 26, 1958 and will be complete in June 1959 for a total cost of $114,687.

1960 to 1969

  • Jess H. Lombard - Superintendent (Jan. 24).
  • Concessionaire - M.C. Gideon.
  • Campfire programs given at campground.
  • Rankin Ridge Nature Trail completed.
  • Installed hydrochlorinator.
  • Rankin Ridge road and parking area completed.
  • Five spelunking tours led by Colorado Grotto members.
  • Installed and rehabilitate trans-houses.
  • Elk Mountain Campground opened, old campground still used.
  • Dave Schnute, Herb and Jan Conn discover the Spillway.
  • Passage eventually leads to over 70 miles of cave.
  • Public address system installed in visitor center.
  • Single rockfall near Cathedral on March 18.
  • Headquarters Fire burns 14,000 acres (6,000 acres in park).
  • Park lagoons built.
  • First Christian Ministry in park.
  • Apartment units constructed.
  • Wind Cave designated official fallout shelter.
  • Large pool of water (5x10') found off Club Room.
  • Elk Mountain Campground road and parking areas.
  • Warren D. Hotchkiss - Superintendent (Feb. 27).
  • 210 visitors on single tour - largest group to date
  • Cave length 10.53 miles.
  • US 385 by-pass completed.
  • Experimental spelunking tour given by Dave Schnute.
  • First photographic tours given.
  • First candlelight tours given.
  • Cave entrance flooded in June; visitors on entranceway stairs caught in knee-deep water. No injuries occurred.
  • Highest cave visitation to date.
  • Alvin W. Peterson - Acting Superintendent (June 15).
  • Lester J. McClanahan - Superintendent (July 27).

1970 to 1979

  • Cave tour fee $1.00.
  • Windy City Grotto members discover Windy City Lake.
  • Windy City Grotto members discover Half-Mile Hall.
  • First discovery tours given.
  • Windy City Grotto exploring cave for 3 days/2 nights on a rotating basis. Explorations between 1970-1972 lead to the discovery of 14 new miles of cave passage.
  • Concessionaire - Carl Oberlitner and Dick Turbiville.
  • Garden of Eden area improved for use. Wood escape steps replaced with aluminum steps before visitor season begins.
  • Windy City Grotto discovers 6 miles of cave making a total of 26 surveyed miles. Wind Cave becomes the 4th longest cave in the U.S.
  • Rediscovery of Columbian Hall.
  • Concessionaire - Carl Oberlitner.
  • First living history candlelight tours given.
  • Assembly area shelter built in Spring.
  • John Hoogland begins prairie dog research.
  • Wind Cave Relay Race begins.
  • Rehab Cave Lighting Project.
  • Replace asphalt with concrete curbs.
  • Visitor Center remodeling and expansion begins by Corner Construction of Rapid City at a cost of over $1 million.
  • Elk Bugling Programs begin.
  • Lowell Butts - Facilities Manager.
  • Norman W. Salisbury - Chief Naturalist.
  • Spelunking tours $2.00.

1980 to 1989

  • Fourth lighting system installed (12/79 - 4/80).
  • Visitor Center improvements finished June 18 and reopens on June 21st.
  • Dedication of lighting system and visitor center on Sept. 6th with SD Senator George McGovern as speaker.
  • Cave length on Dec. 31 was 34.3 miles.
  • Youth Adult Conservation Corps program begins - 2 enrollees.
  • Elk round-up (88 elk).
  • Martha Schilling - business manager of Wind Cave NHA.
  • Celebrate Earth Day with Hot Springs Elementary.
  • Cave discovered 100 years ago.
  • Cave tour fee $1.00 for Half-Mile and $1.50 for Mile tour.
  • Triangle Fire - largest in the Black Hills at this time.
  • Wind Cave has 34 miles, Jewel Cave has 66 miles.
  • Commemorative Newspaper celebrates 100 years of discovery at Wind Cave.
  • Alvin McDonald's diary acquired.
  • Oglala Lakota encampment at Wind Cave for protest ownership of the Black Hills.
  • Constructed 3,370 SF asphalt surface vehicle turning bay with concrete, stucco and rockwork retaining wall and wood garbage storage bin at south side of VC/Admin Building.
  • Solar hot water heaters installed.
  • Kay Rohde - Assistant Chief Naturalist.
  • Indian Oyate Return to the Paha Sapa Ceremony, 5th year.
  • Cave tour fee $2.00 for Half-Mile, $3.00 for Mile and Candlelight and $4.00 for Spelunking tour.
  • Flooding of cave entrance in the spring.
  • Indian encampment.
  • Prairie Dog reduction program begins.
  • Completed 14,000 SF expansion to existing VC/Administration and Concession Building. Upgraded entire facility - Contract Project $1,101,664.
  • Transformer disposal contract.
  • Rehab sewer system - Cleaned 6,230 LF, TV inspection of 5,945 LF, slip-lined 1,799 LF of 8" line. Installed two service connections, six manholes and rehabbed five manholes.
  • Replaced 100 picnic tables in the Elk Mountain Campground.
  • Flood through Wind Cave Canyon on May 22. Log jam at floodgate below pumphouse.
  • James A. Randall - Superintendent (March 6).
  • Cave tour fee $3.00 for Half-Mile tour, and $4.00 for Mile, Candlelight, and Spelunking tours.
  • Steve D. Bone - Chief Ranger.
  • Centennial Parade, Hot Springs, SD.
  • Evening surface activities resume.
  • Bison brucellosis program restarted.
  • Repaired and rehabilitated buffalo corrals. Installed new catwalks, holding pens, gates and steps.
  • Campground goes to self-service.
  • YCC begins with 6 enrollees.
  • Cave management position - part-time seasonal.
  • Cave passes 40 miles in total surveyed length.
  • National Cave Rescue Commission (NCRC) holds training seminar at Wind Cave.
  • National Speleological Society has trips into Wind Cave in conjunction with their national convention in Sheridan, WY.
  • Earthquake during the fall.
  • Blow Hole connected into Wind Cave.
  • First draft of Cave Management Plan completed.
  • Bison round-up.
  • Ernest W. Ortega, Superintendent (March 31).
  • Elk transferred to Theodore Roosevelt NP, ND.
  • First federally funded research begins at Wind Cave (hydrology).
  • Cave passes Friars Hole, WV to become 3rd longest cave in the US at 42.5 miles.
  • Evening surface activities dropped.
  • Cave management position - full time seasonal.
  • Radio location work in Wind Cave by Frank Reid of Indiana.
  • Spelunking tour $5.00.
  • William Swift - Chief Naturalist.
  • Rewire quarters, new sewer lines.
  • Cave goes over 45 miles.
  • Backcountry use started.
  • Concrete trails replace asphalt in cave.
  • Bison herd declared brucellosis free, quarantine lifted.
  • Cave length by year's end is 48 miles.
  • Elk round-up.
  • Wind Cave-Jewel Cave Natural History Association formed.
  • 4,000,000th cave visitor
  • 8th Annual Wind Cave Invitational Relay Race.
  • 5 new lakes discovered by Jim Pisarowicz and Bob Kobza.
  • Environmental Education pilot program.
  • Largest prescribed fire in Black Hills 2,460 acres.
  • Cave closed temporarily because of high winds (at entrance speeds greater than 70 mph).
  • Custer State Park joins WC-JCNHA
  • Gary Kiramidjian - Supervisory Park Ranger
  • Formalized Environmental Education program called Connections begins.
  • August 15 - Wind Cave passes 50 miles of mapped passages.
  • Bison round-up, 270 bison, first population decrease since quarantine was lifted.
  • YCC 8 students from Hot Springs participate.
  • Wind Cave Film Festival.
  • Mother's Day Open House.
  • Rediscovery of "The Lonely Palace".
  • Boundary increase of 240 acres.
  • Installed a new deep well pump, sensor wire and associated piping.
  • Karri Fischer - business manager WC-JCNHA.
  • WC-JCNHA renamed Black Hills Parks and Forests Association.
  • Cave lighting project, incandescent lights replace fluorescent. Cave restoration also takes place.
  • Wind Cave at 51.3 miles (7th longest in the world), Jewel Cave at 76.33 miles and Mammoth Cave, KY at 325 miles.
  • Prairie Patchwork evening hikes leaving from campground amphitheater for 1½-2 hours.
  • Cave rescue seminar.
  • National Speleological Society Convention in Hot Springs, SD.
  • YCC program with 12 students.
  • Galena Fire in Custer State Park, 17,000 acres.
  • Rehab sewage lagoons. Installed 8' high chain link fence and two gates around the sewage lagoons.
  • Rehab campground comfort stations.
  • Constructed seven large redwood signs. (Three entrance signs, two access signs, one in front of VC and one at entrance to campground).
  • Removed concrete steps on south side of VC/Admin Building, poured concrete handicap ramp. Re-pointed 50% of the spalled and cracked concrete joints on the historic rock walls in the Headquarters.
  • Nebraska NF and Bear Butte SP become members of NHA.
  • Wind Cave NP at 86 years, 28292 acres, and 53 miles.
  • Custer middle school Choices EE program begins, small prescribed burn is part of program.
  • 233 acres added to southern boundary.
  • Walk-in entrance is shored up with 5' rock bolts, concrete columns and wire mesh.
  • Summer tours include Garden of Eden for $1.00, Natural Entrance for $3.00, Fairgrounds and Candlelight for $4.00, and the Caving tour for $5.00.
  • Norbeck dam is breached.
  • Since 1987 the cave lake levels have dropped 2 feet.
  • Harkins and Powers Aviation Inc. helicopter crashes during Bison round-up-2 hurt, one park ranger.
  • Rachel Cox, a student with NOLS gets lost during mock search and rescue. Cox spent 37 hours in the cave.
  • Jim Nepstad - Cave Management Specialist (new position).
  • Vic Viera - Resource Management Specialist.
  • Bill Adams - Fire Management Officer (new position in RMVP).
  • Kathy Maurich-Steichen - Assistant Chief Naturalist.
  • Trailer houses #51, 52 and 54 were removed.
  • Excavated and poured concrete footings and foundations for new 4-unit modular apartment building (Q-44). Installed water maintained sewer service.
  • Sewer Lagoon Liner. Lagoon cells reshaped, installed a new manhole and cross over pipe and installed liners in each cell. The two main lateral sewer lines from a diversion manhole to two lagoon cells.
  • Rock bolting/Stabilize Project. Completed work to remove one large rock and the stabilization of five separate areas on the cave natural entrance trail with rock bolts. pillars, beams and chain link fencing.

1990 to 1999



  • Elk round-up.

  • Earthquake.

  • Edna Good - Acting Superintendent (April 23).

  • Martin C. Ott - Superintendent (August 12).

  • Larry Hays - Natural Resource Specialist.

  • Svedlund fire (September) burns 15,023 acres immediately to the northwest corner of the park.

  • Cave is 54 miles long.

  • Kathy Lee - Fire Management Clerk.

  • Constructed accessible additions on campground comfort stations B-103 and B-106.

  • New four-unit modular apartment (Q-44) installed, repaired and opened.


  • Cave Tours: $2.00 Garden of Eden tour, $4.00 Natural Entrance Tour, $5.00 Fairgrounds Tour, and $6.00 for the Candlelight and Caving Tours.

  • Cave is 57 miles long.

  • Southern Environmental Education Cooperative officially named.

  • "Gobbler Knob" prescribed burn of 2200 acres (April).

  • 4200 acre Shirttail Canyon wildfire burns from Forest Service land up to southwestern border of the park. Park back burns 1000 acres to prevent damage to park facilities.

  • Wind Cave Canyon, Natural Entrance, and Bison Flats area flooded during spring rains.

  • Search for six year old Sydney Burkett, lost when he went for a hike out of loop C in campground.

  • Cave passed 62 miles in length (Oct.). Southern Comfort zone of the cave found. Stan Allison, Paul Burger, Jim Nepstad, Mike Wiles were involved in the trip.

  • Nancie Ames - Administrative Officer.

  • Ross Rice - Chief Ranger.

  • Water quality project started.

  • Repaired and stabilized road surfaces on NPS 5 and NPS6. Installed new culverts and base material.

  • Installed new electrical service in the Elevator Building (B-02).

  • Refinished three redwood Entrance Signs and constructed six new redwood Wayside Exhibit Signs.

  • Shirttail Fire burned 4000+ acres.

  • Upgraded wildlife processing area, constructed a warm-up cabin and repaired gates and fences.

  • Started process to have elevators upgraded.


  • Revolving door installed at Natural Entrance.

  • Ron Terry - Chief Interpreter.

  • Dale Scheier - Chief of Maintenance.

  • Prescribed burn at Pringle Cutoff.

  • First park newspaper was published.

  • Cave passed 70 miles (Nov.) Became 6th longest cave in world.

  • Bison round-up.

  • Jimmy Taylor - Superintendent.

  • Electric fence installed bordering Game Ranch to the southeast.

  • Installed manual revolving door and enclosure to control climate and air intrusion into cave environment. Revolving door unit was installed at the walk-in entrance to the cave.

  • Remodeled and upgraded the interior of the VIP Center to make it accessible and to accommodate a variety of researcher, VIP and park staff needs. The work included fabricating a new kitchen, three shower stalls, two restrooms, rear entrance and walkways at the VIP Center.

  • Repaired fence and replaced 64 posts on Elk Mountain Campground enclosure fence and replaced 205 posts and 140 rods of wire on Spring-Water system enclosure fence.

  • Low volume toilets were installed in the public restrooms to reduce the amount of sewer entering full sewage lagoons.


  • Spelunking tour price increases to $8.00.

  • Heavy rains necessitate that the sewage lagoons be pumped out. Some sewage was transported to the Hot Springs treatment facilities. Some water was used for irrigation on the prairie.

  • Construction widens the road over Gobbler's Knob entering the south side of the park.

  • Several mountain lion sightings in the Beaver Creek area.

  • Bison round-up.

  • Cave at 73 explored miles.

  • 100th anniversary of Alvin's death in December.

  • Rehabbed 16 trail signs in the Visitor Center Area.

  • Installed low volume toilets and water saver faucets in the public building.

  • Installed additional handrails at select locations along cave trail system.

  • Discharged 1.3 million gallons of wastewater from inactive lagoon using leased irrigation equipment and hauled 300,000 gallons of actual effluent to Hot Springs Wastewater Treatment Plant.

  • Installed new UST leak detection systems on the fuel tanks at the Gas House B-16.

  • Repaired three miles of fence on the west boundary that was damaged during the Shirt Tail Fire and two miles of fence on the East Boundary.

  • Installed low volume toilets in all permanent and seasonal residences.

  • Tested houses and apartments at WICA, JECA, MORU and BADL for lead based paint.


  • Jean Donnell retires after 35 years of federal service.

  • Cave passed 75 miles; Jewel cave passed 100 miles.

  • Bison round-up in September, elk round-up in Jan. & Dec.

  • Prescribed burn - westside of Rankin Ridge.

  • Ann Watson - Superintendent's Secretary.

  • Dave Kenney - Resource Management Specialist.

  • Three term positions replaced season positions in the Interpretation Division.

  • Fabricated and installed new A/V projection booth.

  • Repaired 6.6 miles of boundary fence. 165 posts replaced between gates 19 & 20. 65 posts were replaced on the south boundary fence.

  • Removed the horse pasture fence below Elk Mountain.

  • Constructed five new redwood wayside signs INR01-1,INR01-2, INR02-3

  • Replaced 725 LF of asphalt sidewalks in front of the VC/Admin building with concrete.


  • Denny Ziemann - Supervisor Park Ranger.

  • Doug Buttery - Maintenance General Foreman.

  • Steve Baldwin - Executive Director Black Hills Parks and Forests Association.

  • Cave is at 76.5 explored miles.

  • NPS reorganization.

  • Completed a rehabilitation project in Elk Mountain Campground. Sixteen sites were eliminated and other improvements were made.

  • Replaced the old wooden bridge structure in the Pearly Gates section of the cave with a concrete structure.

  • Mowed roadsides on NPS 5 and NPS 6 for the first time in several years.

  • Conducted a major cleanup and organization at the Mixing Circle. 8/95 ¢ Replaced 125 deteriorated guard rail posts on SD 87.

  • Installed metal siding on old 4-unit & 8-unit apartment buildings.


  • Cave Tours: $4.00 Garden of Eden tour, $6.00 Natural Entrance Tour and Fairgrounds Tour, $7.00 for the Candlelight, and $15.00 for the Caving Tour.

  • Airlocks installed in cave.

  • 5,000,000th cave visitor.

  • Third sewage lagoon added.

  • The following projects were completed during the winter months at the VC/ Administration building: Installed diaper changing tables in the upper lobby restrooms, patched and painted the public use restrooms, upper lobby walls and the conference room. The opening at the top of the VC elevator shaft was enclosed and repaired a roof leak near the skylight in the upper lobby.

  • Hauled 600,000 gallons of wastewater to treatment plant in Hot Springs to prevent accidental discharge.

  • Cleaned and painted the interior walls of the Auto Shop (B-18). This was the first time that the walls were painted since the bays were constructed in 1959

  • Constructed two "air tight" rooms at both elevator landings in the cave.

  • Repaired, stained and painted the exterior walls and trim on the Gas & Oil House, Carpenter Shop & Fire Cache, Warehouse & Auto Shop and the new Sand Storage Shed. This was the first time that these buildings were ever painted. 7/96

  • Installed new door operators on the two cave elevators.


  • Cave passes 81 miles.

  • Cafeteria serving area replaced with vending machines.

  • Wind Cave employees reunion is held on June 28-29, over 300 people attend.

  • Administration at Wind Cave (now the Black Hills Administrative Group) has taken a leadership role in formalizing and implementing administrative resources sharing between 10 parks know as the Nekota Group.

  • The BHP&F Association opened a new, larger bookstore in the VC and moved their office and storage into a new space. Consequently, the number and variety of titles offered for sale greatly expanded. Aid money was used to fund: the park newspaper, two student interns, interpretive program supplies, staff training, professional memberships and periodical subscriptions for the library.

  • The museum collection was moved into a new room constructed for museum storage on the main floor of the VC.

  • The park's interpretive staff planned and developed nine orientation/info panels for the VC lobby and a comprehensive VC signage system.

  • The park's website was expanded to include virtually all of the info available in site bulletins.

  • An accessible Romtec SST Vault toilet was installed in the Picnic Area. New walkways were poured.

  • A total of 134 badly corroded light fixtures along the cave tour route trails were replaced with new hard plastic units.

  • Double car garages were constructed for residences Q-40 & Q-41. Sidewalks and paved driveways were also completed.

  • An emergency exit and a window unit were installed in the large basement room.


  • New exhibits in old dining area and elevator building.

  • Light fixtures removed from Blue Grotto loop and Pearly Gates.

  • Wind Cave: They Story Behind the Scenery authored by Ron Terry.

  • Wind Cave, Jewel Cave and Mt. Rushmore merge administrative duties.

  • Rankin fire tower no longer staffed.

  • New elevators be installed over the winter.

  • New Carpet was installed throughout the Visitor Center.

  • New Sidewalk Project - Phase I-Installed new walks from VC to Elevator Building.

  • New exhibits were installed in the lobby of the Elevator Building.

  • Ruth Pourier - Maintenance Support Assistant.

  • Steve Schrempp - Chief of Maintenance.

  • New Auditorium and Surface Exhibit Rooms.

  • Fire office project began.

  • Access to campground phone/fee box and new accessible campsite at D Loop were completed.

  • Repair and stain lumber on Pigtail Bridge and surface repair done to High Bridge.


  • In January, Phantom Lake is rediscovered (Alvin McDonald called it the WInd RIver in his journal). First major lake found outside the Lakes Section.

  • Cave passes 86 miles.

  • Spelunking tour price: $18.00.

  • New lake discovered.

  • Rod Horrocks - Cave Management Specialist.

  • New elevators installed.

  • Mary Laycock, new full-time interpretative position.

  • Small earthquake (3.0) on August 6 and another on October 9.

  • Level of new lake sumps out passage to the "Lakes".

  • Joint study with Texas A & M begins regarding WICA bison genetics.

  • New Sidewalk Project - Replaced asphalt pavement with Portland cement concrete pavement between elevator building, VC and natural entrance.

  • Enlarged & remodeled women's restroom, remodeled men's restroom in lower level of Visitor Center.

  • Fence crew replaced 480 rotten wood posts with steel posts along 1.1 miles of boundary fence, replaced rotten/damaged wood on floodgate along boundary fence.

  • Replaced two underground fuel storage tanks with above ground tanks.

  • Noxious weed control - mowed 80 acres of Canadian thistle.

  • Rehabbed 45 picnic tables by replacing wood with TREX recycled composite lumber.


2000 to 2009



  • Cave passes 89 miles.

  • Barb Muenchau, Marie Curtin, and Ed Delany, Resource Management.

  • New double-lined sewer line installation begins.

  • Cave tour reservation system initiated with National Park Reservation Service.

  • Cave Tours: $6.00 Garden of Eden Tour; $8.00 Natural Entrance and Fairgrounds Tours; Candlelight Tour $9.00; Cave Tour $20.00.

  • Phyllis Cermonini, Assistant Chief of Interpretation

  • 700 acre Prairie Dog Canyon presribed burn.

  • Linda Stoll, Superintendent.

  • Kerry Buck replaces Brad Merril as park law enforcement officer.

  • Highland Creek Fire on north boundary of park (1200 acres - wildfire).

  • Jasper Fire burns over 84,000 acres including 90% of Jewel Cave National Monument - the largest fire to date in South Dakota recorded history.

  • Phase one of the new water/sewer lines completed.

  • Pigtail Bridge was rehabilitated.

  • Lois McKeown, personnel clerk.

  • Harley Emick retired.

  • Dr. John Moore started three different biological experiments along tour routes in Wind Cave.


  • Cave passes 95 miles.

  • Tom Farrell, Chief of Interpretation.

  • Jim Dahlberg, maintenance foreman.

  • Reservation system terminated.

  • August 11th, Wind Cave reaches 100 miles!

  • October 1st, 100th mile celebration at Mueller Civic Center in Hot Springs.

  • Sabrina Henry, Fire Management Assistant.


  • Cave Restoration Crew begins work along Natural Entrance tour route.

  • Casey Family approaches park over sale of Keyhole Area.

  • Chronic Wasting Disease found in elk herd.

  • Mike Henry and Mark Davison, permanent law enforcement.

  • Sheryl Sether, Human Resource Specialist.

  • Dan Foster, Resource Mangement Specialist.

  • Highland Creek Prescribed Burns, 1188 acres total.

  • Cave has 106.66 miles of explored and mapped passages by year's end.


  • January 9th - Wind Cave Centennial Celebration at the Visitor Center.

  • Bill Gabbert retires, replaced by Doug Alexander as Fire Management Officer.

  • A three-year study to determine if Chronic Wasting Disease is present in the park's deer herd begins. CWD is found in mule deer herd.

  • Blacktail Fire, February 20, 211 acres, started by CWD researchers using cracker shells.

  • Rich Mossman, Chief Park Ranger.

  • June 13-15, Wind Cave NP Weekend Centennial Celebration.

  • August, Curley Canyon Fire (wildfire), 12 acres.

  • 30 million year old fossils found in the park, area named the Centennial Site. Fossils included a bison-sized hornless rhinoceros, subhyracodon, and a greyhound-sized horse, mesohippus.

  • Project to replace the asphalt visitor center parking lot with concrete begins.

  • No bison round-up due to drought.

  • A long-term fence erected around an aspen stand in the northwest corner of the park (near junction of Hwy 87 and Rankin Ridge Road) to protect hundreds of aspen from being browsed by ungulates.

  • Cave has 109.56 miles of explored and mapped passages by year's end.


  • Hay Flats/Red Valley Prescribed Burn, 4200 acres (sections of Custer State Park were part of this prescribed burn).

  • Northwest Prescribed Burn, 115 acres, at junction of Hwy 87 and Rankin Ridge Fire Tower road.

  • "What the Hell Lake" subsides, opening the passage to the Lakes Region again.

  • Director of the National Park Service, Fran Mainella, visits and was a participant on the Wild Cave Tour.

  • Phantom Lake disappears (probably due to drought cnditions).

  • A second dig at the Centennial Site produced more bones, thought to be from the same animals found in the 2003 dig.

  • Genetic Research on WICA bison reveals "the absence of detectable domestic cattle introgression".

  • New concrete parking lot and runoff treatment system is completed.

  • Construction of a new fire cache began in the maintenance area.

  • Plans began for a new lighting system to be installed in 2006-08.

  • Cave has 113.65 miles of explored and mapped pasages by year's end.


  • Wind Cave moves from 6th longest to 5th longest cave in the world, passing Lechuguilla Cave at 114.19 miles.

  • Cave Tours: $7.00 Garden of Eden Tour; $9.00 Natural Entrance and Fairgrounds Tours; Candlelight Tour $9.00; Cave Tour $23.00.

  • New fire alarm system installed in the visitors center.

  • New fire cache completed.

  • Elk study begins on population density and movement inside and outside of the park. 54 elk given GPS collars.

  • Cave has 118.38 miles of explored and mapped passages.


  • Cave has 123.09 miles of explored and mapped passages.

  • Wind Cave moves from 5th longest to 4th longest cave in the world, passing Holloch Cave in Switzerland.

  • Jim McMahill, Fire Management Officer.

  • 50th Anniversary of Rankin Ridge Fire Tower.

  • 20th Anniversary of the park's Environmental Education program.


  • Superintendent Linda Stoll retires, January 3. Park division chiefs serve as acting superintendent until a permanent replacement is named.

  • Vidal Davila, Big Bend National Park's chief of science and resource management is selected as the park's new superintendent. He begins his new position on October 1.

  • Cave has 124.74 miles of explored and mapped passages.

  • Black-footed Ferrets reintroduced into the park (July 4). A total of 49 ferrets are released in 2007.


  • Paul Menard, Administrative Officer
  • Cave has 127.76 miles of explored and mapped passages.
  • Three-year cave lighting project begins. Crews begin removing electrical wiring and light fixtures, and replace them with newer, more energy efficient wires and lights.
  • Final year of elk study. Forty-five elk are fitted with GPS collars in January.


  • Elk management Plan signed and approved.

  • Ken Hyde hired as new Chief of Resource.

  • Karri Fischer, Administrative Officer

  • First full time permanent botanist, Beth Burkhart was appointed.

  • 23 Bison transported to Mexico. This was Wind Cave's first international transport of bison.

  • Dusting starts on Bison Flats for fleas to help protect against plague.

  • Ted Firkins appointed to assistant Chief of Interpretation

  • Adventure in Nature (Toddler) program started January

  • December, wire fungus appeared on secondary brown wiring in cave, cave lighting project halted until research is completed on why the mold appeared. Garden of Eden and Fairgrounds will have to be rewired, Natural Entrance delayed. Park discontinued use of colored wire and began testing new antifungal wire products.

  • Project to put camping pads in A Loop of campground begins

  • Headquarters Prescribed Fire in and around Elk Mountain Campground

  • The New Campground water system was completed.

  • Wayside exhibits were started along Hwy 87 & Hwy 385.

  • Maintenance crews repaired the existing revolving door at the Natural entrance.

  • New cave LED lights started partial failures. Supplier stated the problem was with a fluctuating electrical current supply.

  • Animal weight scale installed at the wildlife capture facilities.

  • Balcony steps and hand rails replaced on east side of Visitor Center.

  • Visitor Center HVAC project started.


2010 to 2019



  • American Elk Prescribed Fire completed, largest prescribed fire in park's history, lasted 3 days, burned 3450 acres, fire was a success on all levels.

  • Sanson Ranch (Casey Property - 5,555 acres) was acquired at public auction by The Conservation Fund July, 2010

  • Lighting project on Natural Entrance Tour completed.

  • 12 additional ferrets relocated to eastern section of park prairie dog towns

  • Three year elk study started to determine elk population and movement within and out of the park.

  • The credit card holder's bill of rights which includes an amendment allowing firearms in National Parks and wildlife refuges was passed.

  • Herbicides were reintroduced as an invasive species management tool

  • Kevin Kovac, Bio Science Tech

  • Nancy Dunston, Administrative Assistant

  • Eric Allen, Fire Management Officer for Northern Great Plains Fire Office

  • Greg Schroeder, Resource Management Chief

  • Park created first podcast about boxwork

  • Three year study to determine movement of elk started

  • Two new test wells were drilled in Wind Cave Canyon. The first was sealed.

  • South Dakota Hwy 87 chipped sealed in a joint project with Hills Material from Hwy 385 to Custer State Park.

  • Fence crew's completed 5.8 miles of fence with Elk Drop down gates between Wind Ridge Road and Hwy 385's North Access.


  • September: National Park Service buys the 5,555 acre Casey Property from The Conservation Fund.

  • October: Dedication ceremony on the Casey Property. Mike Reynolds, Midwest Regional Director attends ceremony.

  • Park fence updated and replaced from West Gate at US Hwy 385 to Custer State Park on north boundary

  • Campground roads repaved and electric placed underground

  • Human Resource Division (SHRO) moved to Hot Springs for more office space

  • Lindsay Carder, Facility Services Assistant

  • Mark Greene, General Maintenance Supervisor

  • Mike Carder, Engineering Equipment Operator

  • Fence crew completed 5 miles of fence between Hwy 385 North and CSP boundary. Fence Crew joined by small crew from the Rosebud reservation for summer.

  • Friends of Wind Cave group formed. They assisted in installing Mather Plaque outside visitor center on boulder.

  • Installed new carpet tiles in Administration and VC areas- Fee Project Funds.


  • Myrtle Wildfire burned 10,000 acres just west of the park. Park was closed for 4½ days July 19-23. Employees were evacuated from housing and moved to Mueller Center in Hot Springs.

  • Mexico cave passes Wind - Wind becomes 5th longest cave in world at 139 miles

  • Park fence updated and replaced across northern boundary with Custer State Park

  • Sanson Ranch hikes offered during summer schedule

  • Boys and Girls Club hikes offered by park during summer schedule

  • Rick Mossman retires

  • Mike Wilson accepted position at Hoover NH

  • Park engine crew was placed under NGP supervision

  • Jacques Lussier, Park Electrician.

  • Timm Richardson, PSF, Maintenance Worker.

  • Don Frankfort receives "award"- 45th season!

  • Participated in and completed Climate Friendly Parks training

  • SCA crews work on Centennial, Boland, and Sanctuary trails. Built bridges, installed signs/post for trail marking.

  • July: Fundraiser/food event sponsored by Friends of Wind Cave group at the Casey addition.

  • Greg Kouns, Chief Ranger.

  • Began work on Casey addition boundary fence

  • Vegetative rehabilitation of Wind Cave Canyon


  • Wind Cave launched Facebook account

  • Cave reaches 140 miles. Wind is now 6th longest in world - passed by Sistema Sac Actun (Nohoch Nah Chich) Dos Ojos(under water + dry) world's 2nd longest and Sistema Ox Bel Ha (under water) 4th longest. Both caves are in Mexico. Jewel Cave is 3rd longest in world at 160 miles long. Information comes from World's Longest Caves.




  • Nancy Dunston, Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent retires (September) after eight years. Susie Menard is hired in that position after Nancy retires.


  • First park wide elk reduction program initiated with the help of the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks. 262 elk were removed during the months of December, January, February bring the herd size down to around 290.


  • The second elk reduction program took 24 elk during the months of January and February. This effort was carried out in order to help reduce the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.

  • Dan Roddy, Wildlife Biologist retires in February after more than 20 years in the park.

  • Duane Weber, Biological Science Technician and elk tracker retires in October.

  • During the summer of 2018, (June) the National Guard reconstructed the gravel Section Road 266 leading to the Sanson Ranch. The Friends of Wind Cave raised over $60,000 to buy the culverts and gravel for the road.


Last updated: April 6, 2024

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

26611 US Highway 385
Hot Springs, SD 57747


605 745-4600

Contact Us