Cave in Rock is a place where legends and folklore combine. Not sure of the exact history, locals say that pirates and counterfeiters stayed and conducted nefarious activities. The fact that we know for sure is that Indians used the cave as did those traveling up and down the Ohio River
The area around the cave was settled around 1816 and the cave was once a haven for pirates and counterfeiters say Hardin County Main Street. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources documents the first European explorer to encounter the cave as M. de Lery of France, who in 1729 called it caverne dans Le Roc. Through the years, this conspicuous cave was mentioned by later travelers in diaries and journals. The cave was important for river travelers. Following the Revolutionary War, this immense recess was a waypoint and natural shelter for people traversing the Ohio River
I visited the cave while on a travel writing trip this past April and the vastness is amazing. The cave has a crack in the top and we were able to see the top from a point in the Cave in Rock state park that surrounds the area.
My favorite story about the cave besides the one the tour guide shared about building two boats then when the water rose they floated them out into the river is the stories told about back in time (the 30’s I think, but am not sure) way before the cave became part of the park system, the owner laid down planks and made a dance floor. They would take admission and dances would be held in the cave’s eerie glow.
Whatever the cave may have been used for the it is an amazing geological site that should not be missed. There is lodging of very nice hotel like duplex cabins with a veranda with views of the Ohio River and dining is offered at the park as well. Extensive camp sites are available the area is quite lovely as well.
Log onto https://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/R5/CAVEROCK.HTM for more information!