Lewis and Clark Caverns
This park, located along the Jefferson River, was the first park of the Montana State Park System. It covers 3,034 acres.
Within the park are some of the oldest rocks in North America.
It is believed that Tom Williams and Bert Pannell discovered the cave in 1892. Six years later, they and a few friends returned to explore the cave.
After seeing what there was, they felt that the Caverns should be developed so that others could see it. They approached Dan Morrison with a plan of development. A second entrance was enlarged.
The publicity given to the Caverns by Morrison brought in the Northern Pacific Railway, which claimed that the cave was on its property. When a court decision upheld their claim, the NP offered the property to the federal government to be preserved as a park.
In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed the creation of Lewis and Clark Cavern National Monument. Yellowstone National Park was given charge of it.
When Morrison appealed to be allowed to continue providing guided tours, the Caverns were closed to all visitors. However, Morrison continued guiding illegally for some time.
In 1932, the federal government approached the state government of Montana about taking over the Caverns. The necessary legislation and the creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps were completed in 1935.
In 1937, the deed for the property was transferred to the State of Montana. Several years of development followed.
The train and tram to transport visitors to and from the Caverns began in 1950.
However, the tram was discontinued in 1973 and the train, in 1975 because of safety concerns.
See map of the park.
We would like to thank Lynette Kemp, Assistant Manager, Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park, for providing information for this page.
(This page was uUpdated in November 2012.)