Lewis n Clark Caverns, Montana

Lewis n Clark Caverns, Montana

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Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park, Montana.

The caverns have been familiar to Native Americans since long before their discovery by Europeans. The Lewis and Clark Expedition camped within sight of the caverns on July 31, 1805, when they camped along Antelope Creek. The cavern was first discovered by non-Native Americans in 1882 by two people from Whitehall, Montana, Charles Brooke and Mexican John. However, they told few people and at the time their discovery did not become well known. In 1892, local ranchers Tom Williams and Bert (or Burt) Pannel saw steam coming from the caverns while hunting. In 1898, Williams finally explored the caverns. Williams wanted to begin giving tours to the caverns but in 1900 a court battle over ownership ensued and the railroad won. In 1908, the railroad gave the land to the federal government.

The cave was first developed for tours around 1900 by Dan A. Morrison, who called it Limespur Cave. The site was first officially established as “Lewis and Clark Cavern National Monument” on May 11, 1908, but was not fully surveyed and declared until May 16, 1911, by President Taft as 160 acres. The limestone cave is named after the explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark since the cavern overlooks over 50 miles of the trail from the Lewis and Clark Expedition along the Jefferson River, although Lewis and Clark never saw the cavern. Lewis and Clark did however pass through portions of the modern day park. It is located approximately 45 miles west of Bozeman, Montana, and 60 miles northwest from the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park. The caverns are also notable in that much of the work done to make the cave system accessible to tourists was performed by the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps.

View from the cave entrance
It was disbanded as a national monument on August 24, 1937, and transferred to the state of Montana. On April 22, 1938, Morrison Cave was declared Montana’s first State Park.The site was formally dedicated in May of 1941.

sound track : Mario Bava Sleeps In a Little Later Than He Expected To by Chris Zabriskie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (

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