Wednesday, December 29, 2010

In Search of Historic Cave Springs

This busy stretch of road was in fact named after an historic cave and spring that were destroyed in the name of progress in 1962 when Interstate 70 was developed through Saint Peters, Missouri. Googling this proved futile and it took a lot of research from a variety of obscure sources to uncover this information.

I have decided to share this because there's really nothing left of it. Aside from some drains and tunnels running underneath the highway, one wouldn't find much of interest here without knowing the history of the spring. Even then, as we learned, the spring has been rendered unrecognizable and therefore, sadly disappointing.

According to the following article, discoveries of Native American artifacts were made and volunteers were invited to help identify and catalog them. It is unknown exactly what all was found.

"An underground man-made cave, through which water flows is one of the unsolved historical questions in this area... The first cave is about 30x12 feet and about eight feet high. The floor is of hand cut stone, some pieces being 12x24 inches. The walls are made of varying size stone and the ceiling is covered with large stones... The spring flows on the floor through this room. A small wooden door severs as an entrance.. At the opposite end there is a decided drop to another stone built room about 60 feet in legnth.. It is not known why and by whom this was built... The area was once home of the Osage Indians as Indian artifacts found in the area have been traced to that tribe.."

"In the 'Cosmos', dated July 2 1901, a news story told of the drought year and that the council ordered every water wagon to carry water from Cave Springs to the various farms. Lanterns were used to light the spring at night as the water haulers procession continued almost around the clock.."

"During a recent visit to the farm, Mr. Stile was very gracious and had a stone hatchet that had been plowed up in the field... The cave and the old barn are in the path of progress and will soon disappear. A Highway service road will be built within 12 feet of the home and farm will be divided by the road.."


So close yet no cave...The outlet:


These pictures indicate a combined spring/storm sewer drain which runs below the highway and drains into a creek on the other side. We started previously by entering the outlet. This time, we entered nearer the source and located what's left of it. I do not recommend anyone try to find it because it takes a lot of crawling through small tunnels and there's really nothing to see aside from what I have posted here.

There was a steady flow of crystal clear water coming from a small tube purpose built and it's evident the designers of this duct accurately calculated the constant flow from its source, evidence that this is in fact the spring and not simply runoff. The bright orange of the clay here indicates also that this is groundwater. We explored the extent of navigable passages on either side of the highway around this intersection and unfortunately, we must conclude that whatever cave that may have been here is no longer.

The only thing left of the cave/spring is, therefore, the water flowing from the top right in the below pictures. The room in which this picture was taken is approximately 5'x5' and the tube with the water flowing out of it is approximately 12". Above ground, a short distance away and in precisely the direction this is coming from, is a filled in sinkhole.

Altogether, this is conclusive evidence and indicates that occasionally, street names are but a reminder of their long forgotten namesakes.