Carver's Cave

Carver's Cave

memorializing Carver's Cave. The following is the exact text from the plaque:

"Repeated attempts were made by French and British Explorers to discover a northwest passage. One of the most significant of these expeditions was conceived by Major Robert Rogers commandant of Fort Michilimackinac on Upper Lake Michigan and led by Jonathan Carver in 1766. Carver pushed westward from the fort into the Minnesota country reaching the Mississippi River in late autumn.""On November 10, 1766 the explorer arrived at the foot of this bluff where he found "a remarkable cave of amazing depth." He tells us that it contained a lake and "many Indian hieroglyphicks which appear very ancient." The cave, he says, was called by the Sioux "Wakon-teebe" meaning Dwelling of the Great Spirit.""In April, 1767, Carver returned to this spot with 300 Sioux, and here he took part in a great Indian Council. When he was asked to speak, the explorer warned the Indians in their own language against alliances with the French and attempted to impress them with the power of Great Britain.""When Minnesota was settled Carver's Cave became a popular tourist attraction and was regarded a century ago as "the foremost relic of antiquity" in the region. Today only a debris-filled remnant of the once large cavern remains. It was destroyed by railroad construction about 1869."

Other accounts of the same event:

"Between 1730 and 1830 a small Dakota Indian trading village called Kaposia was located near the confluence of Phalen Creek and the Mississippi River. During that period, a British explorer, Jonathan Carver, found the cave Wakan- tebee in 1767 while searching for the elusive Northwest Passage. He wrote about it, noting "strange hiero-glyphicks" (sic) cut in the stone, and described the cave as having an entrance three feet high by ten feet across, and a lake sixty feet from the entrance that disappeared into the darkness. White people thereafter called it "Carver's Cave." " []

"Carver's Cave at St. Paul was called by the Dakotas "Wakân Teepee"--sacred lodge. In the days that are no more, they lighted their Council-fires in this cave, and buried their dead near it. See Neill's Hist. Minn., p. 207. Capt. Carver in his _Travels_, London, 1778, p. 63, et seq., describes this cave as follows: "It is a remarkable cave of an amazing depth. The Indians term it Wakon-teebe, that is, the Dwelling of the Great Spirit. The entrance into it is about ten feet wide, the height of it five feet, the arch within is near fifteen feet high and about thirty feet broad. The bottom of it consists of fine clear sand. About twenty feet from the entrance begins a lake, the water of which is transparent, and extends to an unsearchable distance; for the darkness of the cave prevents all attempts to acquire a knowledge of it. I threw a small pebble towards the interior parts of it with my utmost strength. I could hear that it fell into the water, and notwithstanding it was of so small a size, it caused an astonishing and horrible noise that reverberated through all those gloomy regions. I found in this cave many Indian hieroglyphics, which appeared very ancient, for time had nearly covered them with moss, so that it was with difficulty I could trace them. They were cut in a rude manner upon the inside of the walls, which were composed of a stone so extremely soft that it might be easily penetrated with a knife: a stone everywhere to be found near the Mississippi. This cave is only accessible by ascending a narrow, steep passage that lies near the brink of the river. At a little distance from this dreary cavern is the burying-place of several bands of the Naudowessie (Dakota) Indians." Many years ago the roof fell in, but the cave has been partially restored and is now used as a beer cellar." [] (This account most likely was written between 1837 and 1869.)

Construction of the Railroads

"The railroads removed 75' off the face of Dayton's Bluff in 1885 to expand their rail area. Carver's Cave was lost in the process. The dry chamber of the cave was destroyed, and failing debris from explosions buried the remainder of the cavern. Interest in the lost cave revived in 1913, as promoters felt it could perhaps again become a tourist destination. Electric illumination of a huge Carver's Cave sign on the bluff was proposed to capture the interest of passing train passengers. The cave entrance was dug out and during exploration, three water-filled caverns were discovered, of 40' x 100', 75' x 150', and 25' x 75', with underwater entrances to the two farthest caverns. Nothing came of the effort to renovate the cave, and it became buried again by landslides." []

Rock carvings in the cave were said to include rattlesnakes, men, birds, fish, turtles, and figures that might be bears and lizards. []

The cave was visited by non-Indigenous explorers

*1680 Frenchmen, Michel Aco (aka Michael Accault) (b. unknown-1702), Antoine Auguelle (aka Picard Du Gay), and Father Louis Hennepin (1626-1705) []
*1766 Jonathan Carver (1710-1780) [] []
*1806 Zebulon Pike (1779-1813) [] []
*1817 Major Stephen Long (1784-1864) [] []
*1835 George William Featherstonhaugh (1780-1866) [] []
*1837 Joseph Nicollet (1786-1843) [] []

Further reading

A book, currently out of print, may shed more light on the subject: "Carver's Cave: Wakon-Toebe, the dwelling of the Great Spirit"by W. C Fuller

External links

* [ Pig's Eye's Notepad]
* [ Carver's Cave: An Enduring Landmark on the Upper Mississippi River]

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