Lewis and Clark Expedition: Tavern Cave - St. Albans, MO
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member YoSam.
N 38° 34.844 W 090° 46.282
15S E 694125 N 4272606
Tavern Cave, Meriwether Lewis had to look, and took a fall; almost killed himself.
Waymark Code: WMY5EE
Location: Missouri, United States
Date Posted: 04/25/2018
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member iconions
Views: 3

County of marker: Franklin County
Location of marker: , St. Albans
Marker erected: 2000
Erected by: Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail

Marker Text:

The Lewis & Clark Expedition
Tavern Cave
The Lewis and Clark Expedition came close to a tragic and premature end near the present Village of St. Albans. On the south side of the Missouri, limestone bluffs rose high above the water. At the base of one, the explorers noted a cave which was already a landmark.

The Tavern Cave had been named by French traders who used it for shelter during river voyages. William Clark records its dimensions as "about 120 feet wide and 40 feet Deep & 20 feet high."

He observed that "many immages are Painted on the Rock at this place" where "the Inds & French pay homage."

As part of his reconnaissance, Captain Meriwether Lewis climbed jagged rocks overhanging the cave. Suddenly, 300 feet above the swift current of the Missouri, which then flowed directly beneath the cliff, he lost his footing and almost fell.

Clark's journals record that, "with the assistance of his Knife, Lewis "caught at 20 foot."

Then and Now
For navigation and flood control the river has been straightened, deepened, banks rocked and levees built.

As a result, the Missouri River as seen by Lewis and Clark has significantly changed. Gone are the meandering channels, shallow waters and sandbars, but some of the bluffs and distant vistas provide comparable glimpses.

The path of the river past Tavern Cave has shifted resulting in the cave being inaccessible for viewing

[Ed. Note: Cave is accessible, thanks to the National Park Service.see link below..it is now on property of the Rock Island Railroad, but access is available.]
Web link: [Web Link]

History of Mark:
On May 23, 1804, two days after leaving St. Charles, the expedition visited Tavern Cave, located on the south bank of the Missouri River at the base of a huge sandstone bluff called Tavern Rock. This landmark, well known to indigenous tribes and "European trappers and traders, was first described by Clark as “…an endented part of a Rock which juted over the water, Called by the french the tavern which is a Cave 40 yds. long with the river 4 feet Deep & about 20 feet high, this is a place the India[ns] & french Pay omage to, many names are wrote up on the rock Mine among others…” Clark also wrote that “Capt Lewis' assended the hill which has peninsulis projecting in raged points to the river, and was near falling from a Peninsu­lia […]Saved himself by the assistance of his Knife…” On September 21, 1806, the expedition once again passed Tavern Cave on their journey home.

"Tavern Cave is one of the best known surviving landmarks of early Missouri River exploration, and has likely provided shelter to humans for thousands of years. During the 18th and 19th centuries, it served as a stop­over for both Native American bands and European-American travelers. Tavern Cave is noted on the Evans- Mackay map of circa 1795-1797, which Thomas Jefferson provided to Lewis and Clark. Today, the Missouri River channel has shifted to about 250 feet west of the cave mouth. Much of Tavern Rock, the bluff above the cave, was blasted away during the construction of a railroad. As a result, a large mound of debris now largely obscures the mouth of Tavern Cave."
~ National Park Service

Additional point: N 38° 36.341 W 090° 45.333

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