Former ‘beer cave’ discovered in a St. Louis neighborhood

Missouri
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. – A cave once lost to time has since been rediscovered in the Benton Park neighborhood after more than a century.

“We lowered a lidar unit down here to map out the cave and here is the approximate route of the cave. The cave, it’s like 30-feet wide with a ceiling of 7 by 15 feet tall,” said Bill Kranz, project facilitator for the McHose and English Cave Recovery. “We were all out here in the alley jumping around like crazy.”

The group located the cave last May on Provenchere Place in the Benton Park neighborhood. Kranz and his crew have been paving the way working on the project since 1998.

As for the cave, it dates back to the early 1800s.

“It started out for storing ale,” Kranz said.

No surprise, knowing the neighborhood’s deep history with beer.

“This was the brewery epicenter of the city of St. Louis because of all the caves,” said Alderman Dan Guenther (9th Ward). “It really gives us an opportunity to reconnect with that past and hopefully step foot in a garden that has been opened in over 100 years. “

The cave also once home to a mushroom farm, wine grotto, and a community gathering spot. Now, the cave is only accessible by camera from two holes, but the land above it is still in use; preserved by Marian Amies, who helped create the community garden.

“We wanted to preserve it in the community garden just in case developments happened, so we could explore for the garden,” Amies said.

Others in the community have joined in along the way, like Chris Borders, who stumbled upon something right in his backyard.

“I was coming home from work like any other day and pulled down the alley and there were a bunch of vans,” he said. “And a big drill, and they were drilling a hole, and sending lidar. I didn’t even know what lidar was at the time, and yeah they were real welcoming, and let me join.”

Exploration will continue. The group hopes to create more access points in the years ahead. Right now, the project is on hold, but the leaders hope to announce something this coming fall.

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