Silver Dollar City plays host to roughly 10 million guests a year. Most come for the rides, food and various seasonal entertainment. However, lost in the excitement of roller coasters and delicious treats, many forget about the attraction that Silver Dollar City was built around: Marvel Cave.
Discovered by the Osage Indians in the 1500s, Marvel Cave was originally named “The Devil’s Den” due to the strange noises heard by the Indians from deep within the cave. Being one of the deepest caves in Missouri, it is home to one of the largest subterranean entry-rooms in the United States. It has been the subject of exploration by both Spanish explorers searching for the Fountain of Youth and others looking for priceless mineral deposits. When the expedition to find priceless minerals failed, the miners returned to the surface with the promise that marble could be found in the cave. Because of this, the cave began to be known as Marble Cave. It wasn’t until 1927 that it was renamed to Marvel Cave.
Marvel Cave is known as the first attraction to bring tourists to the Branson area. It is a registered national landmark that opened in 1894 as a tourist attraction by Canadian entrepreneur William Henry Lynch and his two daughters.
In 1950, Hugo Herschend and his family leased the cave from Lynch’s daughters and opened the Silver Dollar City theme park around it in 1960. In its first year of business, Silver Dollar City received four times as many visitors as Marvel Cave; thus beginning the park’s overshadowing of the original tourist attraction in Branson.
Though many visit Silver Dollar City for other reasons, Marvel Cave is still considered a great attraction and an incredible experience. Today, the cost of a tour of the cave is included within the price of admission for the theme park. Tours depart into the cave every half-hour, and last roughly 60 minutes.
The tour of the cave begins by traveling more than 300 feet below the surface to the Cathedral Room. After stopping to observe the entrance, the practically hour-long tour takes guests through different parts of the cave and requires them to climb a total of nearly 600 stairs.
For an additional fee of $10, guests nine years and older can now experience special lantern light tours that are offered 90 minutes prior to the closing of the park. This special tour allows guests to view a newly re-opened trail within the cave consisting of a bat wall and the only known Spanish ladder left in the cave.
Due to the amount of exhaustion one can experience during a fun-filled day at Silver Dollar City and the extensive walking required, you may want to tour the cave before setting out to experience all the park has to offer for the day. That way fatigue does not prevent anyone from conquering the vast amount of stairs required to complete the tour of the historic Marvel Cave. The beauty you will behold on the tour is worth the effort.