After leaving Branson our next reservation was supposed to be Meremac State Park in Missouri. But recent rains and substantial flooding left the park closed during our scheduled stay. Missouri State Parks found us a reservation at the nearby Onondaga Cave State Park. This turned out to be a beautiful Missouri State Park with electric and water hookups. We were very happy there and loved our campsite. The recent flooding in the area caused great damage here as well, and we were thankful it was open for us.
During our stay we took a guided tour of Onondaga Cave. The cave was first discovered in 1886 and opened to the public in 1904. After years of land disputes and court battles among various neighbors as well as the potential building of a dam which would have flooded the cave and was voted down, the land was given to the state of Missouri and became a state park in 1982. The cave was designated a National Historic Landmark. The name Onondaga is the name of an Iroquois tribe and means “People of the Mountain”. Our tour began with a short video on the history of the cave and cave etiquette. Our tour guide was a young girl who later said she was new and this was only her second tour, but she did an excellent job. The cave had impressive walkways and lighting throughout the cave. The stalagmites and stalactites were beautiful. As we exited the cave we were required to walk over a mixture of water and bleach to cleanse our shoes on hopes of preventing the spread of bat killing diseases such as white nose syndrome. Missouri is home to about 6,300 caves and back in 2010 many of them were closed to help bats hurt by habitat destruction and disease. I don’t remember the exact number but the tour guide told us the number of bats in Onondaga Cave alone has been substantially reduced over the years by disease. We were asked to please change clothes before entering any other area caves in an effort to cut down the spread of white nose syndrome and other disease harmful to bats.
We really enjoyed our unexpected visit to Onondaga Cave State Park. Since there was no Verizon signal in the park we visited the public library in Bourbon, MO on Saturday to use their internet. I was delighted to find the library was having a used book sale and found ten books I just had to have. All the books were priced at 10¢ each, but we always like to support small libraries, so we decided to pay 20¢ per book to help out the library. On the way out of town we passed a local food stand where the Bourbon area Veterans were having a fundraiser so we stopped and Bill had a Bratwurst for lunch.
Next stop: St Louis