Meramec Cavern, Missouri: The Greatest Show Under the Earth
Ever wondered what the ‘Greatest Show Under the Earth’ could be like? No, it’s not the Big Bowl or the soccer world cup, or even the Olympics. It’s in the Meramec Cavern, a cavern system of large limestone deposits formed over millions of years, in the Ozarks, near Stanton, Missouri. This cavern is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Missouri and is located off Interstate 44.
More than 150,000 tourists visit these caverns every year and return home with awesome memories of natural history that has been carefully preserved and embellished to create a surreal environment for visitors. The first European to find the Meramec Caverns was a French miner who came upon the cave in 1722. It was not until 1933 that the entire cave could be explored; that was when it was found that the cave ran a distance of 4.6 miles. By this time, it was already quite popular among tourists from all over.
In popular culture
The celebrated Hollywood films, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn were partly shot in this cave and made it famous among tourists far and wide. However, nothing amazes visitors more than the "Greatest Show Under the Earth." This is a light and sound show that displays a "stage curtain" comprising a sheet wall of natural formations, said to be 78 million years old inside the cave. It’s an awesome sight to behold!
The other amazing attractions inside the cave are the “Wine Room,” another natural formation that resembles a wine table although there are other theories to suggest why it got this name. Then there’s the “Mirror Room” and the “Ballroom” which occasionally hosts concerts. The Meramec Caverns are easily accessible due to its proximity to the interstate 44 and has a café and a motel as well as utility shops just outside the entry point to the cave. The cave is open throughout the year and there are other attractions within 10 miles of it, like fishing and canoeing on the river Meramec in addition to camping along the river. The nearest town is Stanton, which is just an hour away from St. Louis, the capital of Missouri.