The caves in Minnesota are mostly located along the Mississippi River, and it’s tributaries. They can be found from the Twin Cities to the southeastern part of the State, although many of the caves in the Twin Cities have been sealed due to safety concerns. There are also caves in the southeast portion of the state located away from the rivers. This is a listing of a few of the more noteworthy caves in Minnesota.
- Carver’s Cave (St. Paul, MN)
First discovered by Jonathan Carver, an American serving with the British Army in 1766. Captain Carver lead an expedition to find a water route to the northwest, (later called the Northwest Passage), although Carver was forced to turn back due to lack of rations. He never made it any further west.
- Fountain Cave (St. Paul, MN)
The first European settlement in the Twin Cities was actually located at the entrance of Fountain Cave, alongside the Mississippi River close to Downtown St. Paul. It was first discovered by Pierre “Pig’s Eye” Parrant, a French Fur Trapper who went on to become a bootlegger. St. Paul, MN was originally named Pig’s Eye.
- Mystery Cave (Wykoff, MN)
In southern border of Minnesota. Mystery Cave is one of the largest cave complexes in North America with more than 13 miles of passageways. It’s also called the “Forestville/Mystery Cave”. Forestville is a restored 1800s village located close to Mystery Cave.
- Niagara Cave (Harmony, MN)
Located in the Southeast corner of Minnesota, Niagara Cave is one of the Midwest’s largest limestone caverns. Carved out by underground streams, Niagara Cave’s ceiling reaches over a hundred feet high, with deep canyons and gorges below. Many of these streams are still active today, one of which creates a waterfall 60 feet tall.
- Schiek’s Cave (Minneapolis, MN)
First discovered in 1904 by Carl J. Illstrup, a city sewer engineer. It’s located seventy-five feet beneath the busy streets of downtown Minneapolis. the cave was reportedly kept a secret for years because city officials feared that the public would think that downtown Minneapolis would sink into the earth. It’s located under the city block at Marquette and 4th Street South, but there’s no easy access.
- Stillwater Caves (Stillwater, MN)
These are historic caves located at the south end of Main Street in Stillwater, a small but bustling river community on the St. Croix River. Their first recorded use was in 1838 by Jules St. Pierre, a French trader, who enlarged the natural openings for a trading post. Martin Wolfe, a Swiss brewer, purchased the caves in the late 1880’s, and used the cave’s natural resources – the spring water, constant 45 degree-Fahrenheit temperature, and storage space – in his brewing operation.
- Wabasha Street Caves (St. Paul, MN)
Unlike the other caves mentioned here, the Wabasha Street Caves were man-made and carved out of sandstone and limestone. They opened to the public in October 26,1933 as “Castle Royale” and were frequented by mobsters like Ma Barker, Baby Face Nelson and John Dillinger. It’s still open today for tours and special events.