Onondaga Cave State Park is a Missouri state park located on the Meramec River approximately southeast of the village of Leasburg. The park was established in 1982. Park activities include cave tours, camping, fishing, hiking, picnicking, and swimming.
In 1850, the area was settled by George and Statirah Cresswell, who moved to the region from Washington County, Missouri with her adopted family. The family built a mill on the Meramec River near Saranac Springs. When a large flood destroyed Cresswell's mill in 1881, the property was purchased by William Henry Rollision Davis. A new mill was built on the property further away from the river at Davis Spring (now Onondaga Spring).
In 1886, while studying the outlet of the spring that powered the new mill, a local resident by the name of Charles Christopher discovered that a cave existed behind the spring. With a borrowed boat and two of his friends (John Eaton and Mitis Horine), Christopher entered the cavern and spent an entire day exploring the tunnels within the property. Inspired by their adventure, Christopher and Eaton acquired the land over the cave and began developing their discovery as the "Mammoth Cave of Missouri", spawning a property dispute with Davis that lasted more than fifty years.
At the time, "cave onyx" was in demand for architecture, and many caves in the area were being harvested for this purpose. Funds for development of the cave was something neither Christopher or Eaton could spare. Unable to decide whether to continue the cave as a mine or as a tourist destination, the pair had the cave surveyed in 1897 for mining but also gave tours to make the money needed to develop the caverns further. Arthur Hitch, one of the first tourists in the cave system, released a publication about the cave using Eaton's own flash-powder photographs. Plan your Onondaga Cave visit and explore what else you can see and do in Leasburg using our Leasburg day trip app.
Create a full itinerary - for free!
Onondaga Cave reviews
This cave is very awesome. It has a lot of nice formations and rooms. This is coming from a owner of the top rated cavern of East US (Tuckaleechee Caverns). This place is must stop. Also they have..... more
This cave is very awesome. It has a lot of nice formations and rooms. This is coming from a owner of the top rated cavern of East US (Tuckaleechee Caverns). This place is must stop. Also they have..... more »
Great cave with unbelievable features and an amazing grand room. Our tour guide wasn't very knowledgeable about the cave itself, but she made it fun. Made a special event out of my daughter's...
Great cave with unbelievable features and an amazing grand room. Our tour guide wasn't very knowledgeable about the cave itself, but she made it fun. Made a special event out of my daughter's... more »
Plan your trip to Leasburg
- Get a personalized tripA full day by day itinerary based on your preferences
- Customize itRefine your trip. We'll find the
best routes and schedules
- Manage itEverything in one place. Everyone on the same page.
Popular things to do in Leasburg
Trips in Onondaga Cave by other users
3 days in Southeast Missouri BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES New Haven Eminence 7 days in Osage Beach BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES Bridal Cave Ha Ha Tonka State Park Boat Tours & Water Sports 52 days in Osage Beach BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES Dogwood Hills Golf Resort Ozark Distillery and Brewery Missouri State Museum 1 day in Sullivan BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES Onondaga Cave Meramec State Park 31 days in Missouri BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES Kansas City Columbia Hannibal 60 days in Saint Louis BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES Dickerson Park Zoo Fantastic Caverns St. Francis Xavier Church