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[photo] Tavern Cave was well known to the Indians, French and Spanish trappers and traders before Lewis and Clark visited
Photo from National Register collection, photo taken by H. Roger Grant, State Historical Survey, Missouri State Park Board

On May 23, 1804, two days after leaving St. Charles, the Lewis and Clark Expedition visited Tavern Cave, located at the south bank of the Missouri River at the base of a huge sandstone bluff called Tavern Rock. This landmark, well known to the Indians, French and Spanish trappers and traders, was first described by Lewis and Clark as:

. . . a large cave called by the French the Tavern - about 120 feet wide 40 feet deep & 20 feet high. Many different immages are painted on the rock. At this place the Ind. & French pay omage. Many names are wrote on the rock. Stoped about one mile above for Capt. Lewis who had assended the clifts which is at the said cave 300 fee[t] high, hanging over the waters..Capt. Lewis near falling from the pinecles of rocks 300 feet. He caught at 20 foot. Saved himself by the assistance of his knife . . . (Jones 2000, 2-3)

[photo]
Interior of Tavern Cave, looking out
Courtesy of the National Register Collection, photo taken by H. Roger Grant, State Historical Survey, Missouri State Park Board

On September 21, 1806, the explorers once again passed Tavern Cave on their journey home. Today, Tavern Cave sits approximately 250 feet from the edge of the Missouri River and is 20 feet smaller in width than when Lewis and Clark visited here.

Tavern Cave is located two miles northeast of St. Albans, Missouri, along the track of the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad. There is no public access to the cave but an interpretive sign and marker are located in the village of St. Albans.

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