Aug 19th – Leaving Sundance, we drove down to Wind Cave National Park. We have seen Mt. Rushmore, and Custer Park on a previous trip, so we decided to bypass them and take the few hours that we had to see Wind Cave National Park.
Wind Cave was discovered by two brothers who happened to be passing by and heard a noise like a wind blowing up from the ground. They investigated and discovered that the wind was coming from this opening into a cave. Because of the large air volume underground, and the relatively small natural openings to the surface, Wind Cave ‘breathes’ as the pressure seeks to equalize. On this day the air was blowing into the cave at 20 MPH.
Wind Cave was first explored and mapped by a young, 16 yr old fellow in the 1800’s, whose family owned the property and was trying to mine the surrounding area, looking for gold. No gold was found, but Wind Cave became a tourist attraction, known for its extensive tunnel system.
Wind Cave is the forth largest cave in the world, with 135 miles of known underground passages, on 3 levels. Researchers who have studied the volume of air flow in and out of the cave feel that only 1/5th of the cave has been discovered.
Wind Cave is a ‘dry’ cave, meaning that it does not have the water seeping through the rocks and forming the usual stalactites and stalagmites and flowstone formations. What Wind Cave does have is lots of these ‘boxwork’ formations.
We explored only a small area of Wind Cave, yet felt that we could imagine what it would have been like to crawl through the tiny passageways and wind one’s way through such a maze of tunnels…….