Bears left depressions in the clay from where they once slept and left their claw marks on the walls.
Literally, a very “cool” place to visit and it is just a short distance away at Fantasy World Caverns. About three hundred of Missouri’s caves are in the counties of Camden, Miller, and Morgan surrounding the Lake of the Ozarks. There are four in the immediate Lake area.
According to the caverns owner, Curtis Whitman; “Fantasy World Caverns was, originally, called Starks Cavern. Uplift and erosion exposed the entrance. The cave has been used by animals for shelter for millions of years. Bears left depressions in the clay from where they once slept and left their claw marks on the walls. Indians used the cave as shelter for several thousand years leaving many artifacts.”
First discovered by an early county settler in the 1800’s, Charles Stark and his neighbors used the cave for storing apples and potatoes. Later in the century it was a meeting place for Civil War guerrillas, and then by moonshiner’s. The cave was opened to the public in 1950. There was a dance floor and an underground roller rink. “There are numerous side passages to explore. One is Rugged Canyon, a six-hour-round trip from the Wishing Well to the extent of the cave that has been explored.”
The caverns have eleven-hundred feet of developed pathway. Cavern formations including flowstone, dripstone, stalactites, stalagmites, helectites, helegmites, soda straws, sponge work, cave coral and stromatolite fossils. Onyx Falls, Onyx Circle, Moonshiner's Dam, Boulder Pass, and the Bear Bed's are some of the favorite features. Not only can visitors enjoy the coolness of the natural caverns, but can enjoy the walk down the pathway in “clean clothes and shoes”. There are no “stoop ways or squeezes” along the way. Whitman commented “I have been giving tours of this cave since 1978. My tour time averages seventy-five minutes. I give ninety percent of the tours myself.” The cavern has a picnic table and grill area for visitors to use that overlooks the creek and valley region. Scheduled tours are at 10:30 am, 12:00 noon, 1:30 pm, 3:00 or 4:30 pm.
After touring the caverns, there are several other places of interest nearby in the Eldon and Bagnell Dam area. And, there are ample shopping opportunities and a wide variety of eateries to make this a totally-fun day at the Lake.
For more information in regard to the caverns e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call Curtis at 573-369-3306. Ask about family rates for tours. Fantasy World Caverns, is located just off Highway 54 and is six and one-half miles east of Bagnell Dam. Visitors will find this a great place to visit any time of year. It’s a “cool” 58 degrees inside the caverns today!
RIGHT: Bears left depressions in the clay from where they once slept and left their claw marks on the walls.