Meramec Caverns celebrates anniversary as the cool place to be on a hot summer day

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Mo. – If you're not up on Missouri’s cave history then perhaps you might go underground and into the Show Me State.

“We have over four miles of passageways here at Meramec Caverns,” says Lester Turilli, vice president of the Meramec Caverns. “We’re also celebrating our 85th anniversary. It was started in 1933 in very humble beginnings, outside the mouth of the cave in a tent.”

As temperatures climbed into the 90s Wednesday afternoon, it was a cool 60 degrees inside Meramec Caverns on National Cave Day.

“Missouri is known as the cave state,” says Turilli. “There are over 5,000 known caves in the State of Missouri. About 20 of those are commercialized.”

Jesse James' famed hideout is reminding those taking a summer trip of an underground alternative to a hot summer day.

“Meramec Caverns is rich in Missouri history, an integral part of the (American) Civil War,” says Turilli. “That’s what led to Jesse James’ discovery of Meramec Caverns. We’re also the closest commercial cave to the St. Louis metropolitan area. We also have the zip lines rides, riverboat rides, canoe rental, candy store, campground, and a motel.”