World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Cave-in-Rock State Park

Article Id: WHEBN0007926689
Reproduction Date:

Title: Cave-in-Rock State Park  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Cave-In-Rock, Illinois, List of protected areas of Illinois, National Register of Historic Places listings in Illinois, Samuel Mason, James Ford (pirate)
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Cave-in-Rock State Park

Cave-In-Rock State Park
Map showing the location of Cave-In-Rock State Park
Map of the U.S. state of Illinois showing the location of Cave-In-Rock State Park
Location Hardin County, Illinois, U.S.
Nearest city Elizabethtown, Illinois
Area 204 acres (83 ha)
Established 1929
Governing body

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Location 0.5 mi N of the town of Cave-In-Rock, Cave-In-Rock, Illinois
Area less than one acre
Built 1861
Architectural style Other, natural cave
Governing body State
MPS Caught in the Middle: The Civil War on the Lower Ohio River MPS
NRHP Reference # 98000984[1]
Added to NRHP August 6, 1998

Cave-In-Rock State Park is an Illinois state park on 204 acres (83 ha) in Hardin County, Illinois in the United States. The state park contains the historic Cave-in-Rock, a landmark of the Ohio River. It is maintained by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).[2]


  • Geology 1
  • History 2
  • The cave 3
  • State park 4
  • Depictions 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Fluorite mineral specimen from Cave-in-Rock area

The Cave-in-Rock was worn into the limestone bluffs of the Ohio by river floods, especially during the meltoff following the Wisconsin ice age. It is not a karstland cavern like Mammoth Cave in nearby Kentucky; it is an obvious, 55-foot-wide (17 m) tunnel leading a long distance into the bluff.[2]


Cave-in-rock, view on the Ohio (circa 1832): aquatint by Karl Bodmer from the book "Maximilian, Prince of Wied's Travels in the Interior of North America, during the years 1832–1834"

Cave-in-Rock was known and used for thousands of years by the Native Americans. It was mapped and named in 1729 by the French explorer M. de Lery, who named it the Caverne dans le Roc. This name, translated directly into English, is the name the cave bears to this day.

During the 1790s and the first three decades of the 19th century, Cave-in-Rock reached the height of its notoriety. Flatboats carrying farm produce from Kentucky, Ohio, and southern Indiana began to float down the Ohio River towards the marketplace in New Orleans. As a known Ohio River landmark, the cave was a landmark of this dangerous journey. From approximately 1797 until 1799, the cave was a hideout for a notorious gang of bandits, headed by Samuel Mason, that preyed upon the lawless river commerce.[2] The outlaws Frank and Jesse James of the notorious James Gang also hid out in the cave, according to local lore, leaving their marks in the cave.

Later in the 19th century, Cave-in-Rock was tamed by settlers who formed the river town of Cave-in-Rock, Illinois near the cave. The town survives to this day. It became the site of a river ferry, adjacent to the state park, that crosses the Ohio River from Illinois Route 1 to Kentucky Route 91.[3]

The cave

The cave at Cave-in-Rock State Park

Cave-in-Rock's primary feature is a striking 55-foot (17 m)-wide riverside cave formed by wind and water erosion and cataclysmic effects of the 1811–12 New Madrid earthquakes at Cave-in-Rock State Park , just upriver from the village.

The first European to come across it was M. de Lery of France, who found it in 1739 and called it "caverne dans Le Roc" (cf. supra). Other names for the cave include Rock-In-Cave, Rocking Cave, Rock-and-Cave, House of Nature, The Cave, Big Cave, and Murrell's Cave. The cave has been the main feature of Illinois' Cave-in-Rock State Park since 1929.[4]

State park

With the inauguration of steamboat traffic on the Ohio River in the 1810s, travelers such as artist Karl Bodmer bought tickets to steam up and down the river, and Cave-in-Rock has been a recognized landmark of river tourism ever since. In 1929, the state of Illinois acquired 64.5 acres of land, including the cave. Other small parcels of land were acquired later to form the current park. The state park, which stretches from the river's edge to the top of the adjacent 60-foot-tall (18 m) bluff, is maintained by IDNR for Ohio River access, camping, and hiking, including hikes to the historic cave.[2]


In L.A. Meyer's historical novel Mississippi Jack, which takes place in 1805, series protagonist Jacky Faber encounters outlaws at Cave-in-Rock while bringing her showboat down the river. She and her cohorts kill the outlaws and report the results of the battle to some locals, hoping that they will send people to Cave-in-Rock before it can be taken over by outlaws once again, though she notes, "Prolly not."


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places.  
  2. ^ a b c d Joe McFarland, "The Hole in the River", Outdoor Illinois XVIII:11 (November 2010), pages 2-5.
  3. ^ Illinois Atlas and Gazetteer. Freeport, Maine: DeLorme Mapping. 1991.  
  4. ^ "Cave-In-Rock - State Park". Illinois Department of Natural Resources. 

External links

  • "Cave-in-Rock - State Park".  
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.