Marvel Cave

Useful Information

Location: Branson, Missouri. I 65 exit Branson, Hwy 76 W to Branson West.
Open: Apr-May daily 9:30-18, May-Aug daily 9:30-19, Aug-Oct daily 9:30-18, Nov-Dec Wed-Sun 13-22. Closed Mondays after Labor Day. See official site for more details.
Fee: Adults $33.35, Children $22.60, Senior Citizen (55+) $31.20 (Silver dollar city with cave)
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: D=60 min.
Bibliography: S. Fred Prince (1895): The Ozarkian Uplift and Marvel Caverns,
Address: Silver Dollar City, HCR 1 Box 791, Branson, MO 65616, Tel. +1-417-338-8220
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1500 the Osage Indians already knew about Marvel Cave and called it The Devil's Den because of the strange sounds.
1541 Spanish explorers explored the cave searching for treasures and possibly the fountain of youth.
1869 a group of miners led by Henry T. Blow from St. Louis explores the cave looking for lead ore.
1893 cave bought by Canadian entrepreneur William Henry Lynch.
1893 S. Fred Prince surveyed the cave.
1894 opened to the public.
1927 William Lynch died, the cave was renamed Marvel Cave by his daughters.
1950 Hugo Herschend, a Danish immigrant from Chicago, leased the cave.
1957 a cable train to take cave visitors back to the surface installed, height difference 326 m.
1960 the Herschends added the Silver Dollar City theme park with an 1880s Ozark Mountain Village.


The first serious expedition into Marvel Cave was led by Henry T. Blow from St. Louis in 1869. As he was a lead industry leader, he was in search of minerals and ores, especially lead ores. The party traveled by horseback to the entrance of Devil's Den, a name given to the cave by the indegnious Osage Indidians because of the sounds the hole makes. After lowering themselves more than 60 m deep down into the cave, they spent hours inside the cave. Studying the walls carefully, they searched for signs of mineral deposits. As they reported that no valuable ore at all was found, but marble, area locals decided to rename the cave into Marble Cave.

In 1893 the cave was bought by the Canadian entrepreneur William Henry Lynch. He asked the famous artist and scientist S. Fred Prince to survey the cave. Prince devised instruments for this job, put up a tent in the Cathedral Room, built a stone fireplace, and lived down there for a week, or even a month at a time. He needed two years to survey the whole cave.

The cave was developed at the same time and opened to the public in 1894, even before Prince was done with his surveying. Prince continued to explore the cave, map new discoveries and guide people through the cave for decades, until the death of Lynch.

Prince tried to alter the cave's name to Marvel Cave, "for Marble was untrue! Marvel was all truth, and dignity...". No marble was ever mined from Marble Cave, only bat guano. But William Lynch, the owner, resisted. After Mr. Lynch's death in 1927, the cave's name was changed by his daughters, as sugested by Prince long before.

The land with cave was bought by the Herschend family in the early fifties. It had been advertised as "land and a cave full of pre-historic bones". There were no prehistoric bones, but they bought it and started to develop it. At first there was only the show cave and a post office, a general store, a blacksmith, and a glass blower. It was named Silver Dollar City because of an advertising campaign where silver dollars were given as change to the tourists who came to visit the cave. The cable train was built to take visitors out of the cave, which works until today.

The cave is entered by a descend into Cathedral Room, walking down a trail of stairs and ramps. After a descend of about 150 m the visitor gets back to the surface using a cable train.