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Onondaga Cave State Park
7556 Highway H
Leasburg, MO 65535
Phone: (573) 245-6576
Directions: From I-44: Take exit #214, and head south on Hwy H for about 7 miles. Pass through the town of Leasburg, then keep heading south till the pavement ends, just before the visitor center. If you cross the Meramec River, you've gone too far.
About Onondaga Cave
Considered to be one of America's most spectacular caves, Onondage Cave is well known for it abundance and quality of its speleothems, or cave formations. Although Meramec State Park has more caves than Onondage Cave State Park, this show cave has become one of the most popular destinations in the Midwest. Some of the finest caverns in the state can be found within the park's boundaries.
Onondage Cave State Park not only showcases years of geologic history, but human history as well, through all the roadside attractions, local politics, and cultural events that have taken place near the cave. Settlers and families came to the area in the 1850s, and the many springs in the area powered numerous mills, including one built in the late 1800s by William and Artressa Davis, known as Davis Mill. They dammed the spring flowing from out of the cave, and used the water to power their mill, for grinding corn and flour into meal for local farmers. Christopher and John Eaton, who first discovered the cave, were also the first to explore the cave, by sinking a johnboat under the bluff near the mill.
In 1904, the organizer of the St. Louis World's Fair helped make the cave a popular tourist attraction, by convincing the owners to open that cave to the public. Visitors took the Frisco Railroad from St. Louis to Leasburg, then were loaded onto wagons to the cave. This was the beginning of the cave's fame, and grew in popularity in the 50's and 60's under the ownership of Lester B. Dill. Dill was known as "America's No. 1 Caveman", and carefully sought to preserve the natural beauty of the cave. After Dill's death in 1980, the cave and surrounding land was acquired by The Nature Conservancy, who transferred ownership to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
Visitors to Onondage Cave will find many spectacular and well preserved formations along the 0.9 mile guided tours provided by park naturalists. This cave, designated a National Natural Landmark, offers visitors views of high quality stalactites, stalagmite columns, rhinestone dams, cave coral, soda straws, flowstone, and draperies, which extensively decorate the cave. A river also flows through the cave, eventually emptying into the Meramec River, thus the natural entrance to the cave is a spring.
Although the main attraction, Onondaga Cave is not the park's only feature. Over six miles of trails await to take hikers to various scenic locations within the park, offering wonderful views of the Meramec River. Upland forests, open glades, and towering bluffs can also be seen. Also located within the park is a 206-acre section called the Vilander Bluff Natural Area, which holds some of the highest bluffs found along the river. Also located within this natural area, are Eastern Red Cedar trees as old as 500 years.
Newly renovated and re-opened in 2004, the park's campground offers primitive and semi-modern campsites. Electricity is available year-round, and the showerhouse and laundry facilities are available during the on-season, which is from April through October. A dump station is available for RVs, and a special-use camping area is also available for youth groups. Sixty-six campsites are located in the campground, which is situated near the Meramec River. A playground and amphitheater are also located nearby.
Features & Facilities
Visitor Center | Gift Shop | Exhibits | Amphitheater | Pavilion | Picnic Area/Tables | Playground | Cave | Spring | Campground | Group Camping | Restrooms | Showers | Laundry | Dump Station | Boat Ramp
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