Meramec Caverns served as a military headquarters during the Civil War, and later as a hiding spot for Jesse James and his outlaw gang. Today, the caverns offer tours of the beautiful scenery located under the rolling hills of eastern Missouri. Meramec Caverns are the state’s largest cave system.
The cool temperatures and moist environment allowed the military to store weapons and ammunition in the cave system during the Civil War. The Confederate army used it first. But, when the Union military overtook the area, the cavern was also used by the North.
Since Jesse James and his brother Frank were aware of the Meramec Caverns from their Confederate military days, they took advantage of the underground river to hide from law enforcement searches.
A small cabin was found floating in the Meramec River above the caverns. It’s currently a display near the cave’s lobby.
Today, a tour of the caverns provides visitors with an upclose view of the cave formations. The unique salt creations grow from both the cave’s ceiling and floor. Views of the formations featuring a variety of light colors provide a breathtaking experience.
During our tour, we took a look at a giant growing formation. You cannot tell it’s a stalagmite because of its massive size. The oils in a human’s fingers could kill the formation, so we were told to not to touch it. That apparently didn’t stop a parent from letting their child touch it and then they discussed what it felt like. Note: when tour guides explain why something shouldn’t be touched, please do not think we know better than they do.
Meramec Caverns is home to a rare formation referred to as the Wine Table. The table stands about six feet tall and has three “table” legs in the Wine Room. The name was given to the section because of the rock clusters that resemble grapes. We “enjoyed” the steep stair climb of about 60 steps.
Our last stop on the tour was to watch a light and show at the “stage curtain,” a large formation that provides an impressive backdrop as a screen. A variety of patriotic songs played while colorful lights and images shined on the cave formation.
Located about an hour southwest of St. Louis on Interstate 44, Meramec Caverns provided us a great tour. We enjoyed the various cave formations. We plan to return to the caverns and take an underground river tour, which wasn’t available at the time.
To check out more information about Meramec Caverns, please visit www.americascave.com.