With how chilly its become in St. Louis, summer feels like ages ago. And so does our visit to Meramec Caverns. But I figured, those eery stalactites and stalagmites at the caverns look a lot like Halloween. So recapping our adventure doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch.
Back in July, Mikey and I joined my parents, brother, nieces and nephews for a visit to Meramec Caverns in Stanton, Missouri. Meramec Caverns is Missouri’s largest commercial cave. Tours are offered daily, allowing visitors a glimpse into the mysterious underground where these unique mineral formations live. None of us in the family had been on a tour before — even Mikey, the St. Louis native. And with my niece, Hannah, and nephew, Josh, in town for a few weeks over the summer, we had the perfect excuse to go.
While on the tour, our guide touched on more than just the natural wonder of the cave’s formations. He went deep into the history of the cave, explaining how explorers were lured there by the possibility of gold — only to find saltpeter (potassium nitrate). Back then, saltpeter was a key ingredient used in the making of gun powder. Over the years, the cave and its precious minerals were heavily disputed over. Southerners eventually took control of the caverns during the Civil War and ended saltpeter mining altogether.
The infamous Jesse James was another point of discussion during the tour. Notorious for his numerous bank robberies and murderous ways, he made Meramec Caverns his hideout and used the underground river as an escape route. Hence, the caves have been dubbed “Jesse James’ Hideout”.
Winding through the cave trails was equally creepy as it was cold. The temperatures in the caverns drops to around 50 degrees, which was much cooler than the summer swelter happening above ground. The chill in the air added to the mystery, but nothing compares to the ghostly contortions of the formations themselves. So without further ado…
Now we can check Meramec Caverns off our St. Louis must-see list and perhaps use it as inspiration for this year’s Halloween costume. I mean, really. How awesome would it be to show up to a party as a stalagmite?