The hole, or collapse feature, farthest to the left as you look from the visitor center’s front porch has historically been called McCartney Cave. In 1877, hotel and bathhouse proprietor James McCartney reportedly hid in this hole Elk at Mammoth Hot Springs like to lie on the terraces even on hot summer days. from Nez Perce for three days and later probably charged tourists to go down a ladder to its bottom. Here’s how an 1898 guide to Yellowstone described the experience of entering the cave: About midway between the hotel and ocers’ quarters, surrounded by an iron railing, is McCartney Cave. The opening is about four feet in diameter, rather oblong in shape. By means of a ladder one can descend vertically some thirty feet, thence twenty feet on an incline to the bottom of the main chamber.
The venturesome may, by means of a rope and light, continue explorations 100 feet further. Far beneath, in a subterranean chamber, water can be distinctly heard by the rope-supported explorer; but the hot vapors and gases constantly arising, stimulate an earnest desire to ascend to the surface. . . . In the winter of 1881, there was a heavy fall of snow which drifted over many of the openings in the plateau. The following spring Mr. McCartney noticed a large pair of antlers protruding, apparently, from the ground; investigating, he discovered that an unfortunate elk had broken through the crust of snow, and falling into the cave, had died, suspended by his horns, in the opening.
Yellowstone McCartney Cave Photo Gallery
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