Caveland history would start in 1958 when Sue Morris and her Husband opened a Roller Skating facility in Festus Missouri. The property on the side a of hill / bluff located on the “old Lucas family farm” was mined in the late 1800’s to early 1900. The hillside may have been mined for Limestone until the crust was lost and a “cut” to the right did not show improvement in the “vein”. So this left a typical strip mined hole in the side of this hill.
A man name Louis Rothenheber of Missouri Silica Sand created what is today called Caveland. He and his assistant named Harold lass dug sand out. They used a tried and true method of drilling twelve foot holes and packing them with dynamite. These blasts would also be used to create roughly 45′ square sections where they would leave natural pillars at the four corners. Once they had blasted the first eighty feet of rock they had sufficient roof thickness to create a “turn around” or two 45′ square rooms side by side. This dynamic duo trucked a reported four truck loads of sand per day to the local glass factory and to St. Louis. They also rasied mushrooms and fishing worms in the cool dark interior. This operation was closed and purchased by a St. Louis group on October 13th 1929.
The Sandstone rock comes from the St. Peter Sandstone formation from the south of Festus approx 1 to 3 miles wide varying from 10 to 80 feet thick.
1929 to 1948
We have found few details about what was happening at the closed sand mind during these two decades. We have heard rumors and anecdotes of Mushrooms and fishing worms.
In 1948 the Morris family purchased the property and laid a concrete floor from front to back. This 300 foot-long by 45-foot floor was a huge task to undertake in 1949. One story says that several truck drivers were taken to the hospital from the fumes of the trucks lined up in the unvented cave.
For more details about the cave’s history and some very personal accounts of its time as a skating rink and concert venue, Lisa Gendron wrote a fantastic article for the Jefferson County Historical Society.