Community Spotlight: Maquoketa Caves

Community Spotlight

MAQUOKETA, Iowa- “On a hot day when its 93 and you can’t get any comfort, you go in the cave and its just like being in a walk in cooler.”

For hikers, families, and nature lovers.The Maquoketa State park’s 16-plus caves serve as the main attraction. “It’s not as muddy as the other side caves so there’s a draw there to have fun and stay clean,” says hiker Jim Rolling.

These caves are unlike any others in the country. “We’re not as glorious as some of the other caves you go to because our caves are unique that you don’t need to have a guide, you can go through them on your own. You can touch the wall you can go crawling through the caves,” says the parks technician Ryland Richards.

The Maquoketa Caves State park encompasses over three-hundred acres of land. In the early 18-hundreds, the caves were accidentally re-discovered by hunters Joshua Bear and David Scott. “They went hunting through the woods and they found this deer. The deer ran into the caves and they waited for the deer to come back. They went into the caves later on to find it then they realized the deer had actually run through the cave so that’s when the caves were kinda rediscovered,” shares Richards.
That’s when the history of the caves emerged. Artifacts such as stone tools and pottery were all found on the grounds.

Archaeologists tying that back to prehistoric Native Americans. “The native Americans were in this area. The Sauk and the Fox from our records from what we know. They were here,” says Richards.

They were hunters, farmers, and nomads.Some of these artifacts can be found at the Sagers museum on site.
The caves became a place popular for picnics and family outings. In the late 1920’s, a woman named Mrs. A.J House helped it become what it is today. “We became a state park in 1933, that’s when we official became a park and then since then that was the first little piece of land. They’ve added things since then.”

Making the Maquoketa Caves a cool spot on a hot day.

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