SULLIVAN, MO (KTVI) - Friday was the first day since March 10 you could stand next to the 1860’s iron boat on display inside the entrance to Meramec Caverns.
Thursday, officials with the Environmental Protection Agency gave the Franklin County tourist attraction the go-ahead to open once again. The owner had temporarily closed the cave after EPA officials determined the air inside contained toxic levels of a degreaser dumped into the ground water by an area factory 40 years ago.
But after two months of work to remediate the problem, the EPA gave Meramec Caverns the green light Thursday.
Dustin Woodcock is a supervisor.
“We're totally up and running as of this morning,” said Woodcock Friday night. “So far today we've had over 200 people come through.”
Woodcock said staffers have been scrambling to get ready for patrons. They are hoping for a hot, busy weekend.
“We had to call in every one of our summer workers,” said Woodcock, “make sure they could come in. The cave is the main draw for business here. If the cave is open, on an average weekday through the summer 600-800 people come through the cave. Probably half of them buy something in the gift shop or restaurant. A quarter of them will do the zip-line.”
Cave officials say tours have resumed on the upper level of the cave. But the lower level remains closed for now. Meramec Caverns re-opening is certainly good news for area campground and canoe rental businesses, as well.