Surveyor’s curiosity led to cave discovery in canyon |

Surveyor’s curiosity led to cave discovery in canyon

Willa Soncarty
Registrar, Frontier Historical Society
and Museum

Intent upon setting a rail line through Glenwood Canyon, a survey crew worked its way along the north bank of the Colorado River. About a mile and a half from the town of Glenwood Springs, the crew set up camp and awaited instruction on how to proceed with the work.

It was the summer of 1885, and a communication from the main office would take some time to be received. It was during this idleness that a member of the crew saw a rock slide high upon the canyon wall. The slide struck the surveyor’s curiosity, prompting the man’s laborious climb to the area.

When he reached the slide, the surveyor surmised a cave was hidden behind the debris. When his foot fell through a crack in the rocks, the cave’s entrance was revealed.

Tools and two fellow surveyors helped enlarge the cave’s entrance. Displayed before the surveyors were glistening stalactites and stalagmites set within an enormous, several-roomed cavern.

Alexander’s Cave had been discovered.

By August 1887 Alexander’s Cave had become a local attraction. Owner M.S. Yarwood gave guided tours, providing visitors and locals an opportunity to view the beauty first seen by the surveyors.

In 1893 Frank Mason became Alexander Cave’s new manager. On April 23, he and 23 tourists celebrated his ownership by climbing the steep and twisting 500-foot pathway to the cave’s entrance. During a champagne toast held at this outing, the cave’s name was changed to “Cave of the Clouds.”

The Cave of the Clouds did not share in the commercial popularity of its rival, the Fairy Caves. However, this natural wonder was enjoyed by locals well into the 20th century.

“Frontier Diary” is provided to the Glenwood Springs Post Independent by the Frontier Historical Society and Museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Summer hours are 11 to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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