The Kickapoo Caverns, now owned by The Mississippi Valley Conservancy (MVC), opened up for tours last Saturday for a limited amount of participants. The caverns were discovered sometime in the late 1800’s by a lead prospector and after some work and years, it opened up as a show cave in 1947 operating all the way until 2011. MVC purchased the property last year and will continue to honor the former owners wishes of keeping the property in its natural pristine state. Throughout the various owners, the cave was dug out further and further, until it can today boast being one of the longest caves in Wisconsin. During the early turn of the century, however, only a portion of the cave was accessible and at the end of the line at the time you’d find the registration room. It was here, individuals like Henry Bukoski from Fennimore did in 1927 would sign their name to show they, too, made the brave journey through the Kickapoo Caverns. Over time the caverns have seen many owners and unusual circumstances. Several owned the cave and marketed it as an “Indian Cavern” as part of the tourist draw. They worked tireless hours to unearth the vast world below ground. However, many of the slowly formed stalactites and stalagmites were cut out to be sold as souvenirs long ago, leaving flat, smooth nubs where you’d expect a long hanging rock. A few years back a couple from Milwaukee was also caught ‘squatting’ in the cave, attempting to turn it into an end of the world bunker and their own home. These days, the caverns have turned into somewhat of a laboratory. The Wisconsin DNR is working with the Mississippi Valley Conservancy to help battle the fatal White Nose Syndrome and help save Wisconsin’s bat population. Over winter, scientists and experts working with the DNR studied the bat population in the caverns in hopes of coming up with a vaccine against the deadly fungus affecting the population who reside in this special environment. Although the cave is closed to the public except under the very limited visits coordinated by the DNR and MVC, the grounds surrounding it are open to the public to enjoy year around.
Local name spotted during Kickapoo Caverns tour
Will open for another limited tour in August