Canoe 'traffic jams' are common during the summer in Cave Spring.

Name: Cave

Location: Shannon County, Missouri

Rank: 20

Average Flow: 24 million gallons per day (37 cubic feet per second)

Recharge Area: Unknown.

Interesting Information: The spring rises a short canoe paddle into a large cave opening on the Current River, from a vertical shaft 140 feet deep. The spring itself is a favorite fishing spot. During underwater survey, a Native American dugout canoe was discovered on the bottom of the spring. Both Devil's Well and Wallace Well are karst windows, the first a sinkhole opening onto an underground lake larger than a football field, and the second, a cave containing access to another conduit which flows to the spring.

Brief History: Cave Spring has a long history of usage as a fishing, picnicking and canoe rest spot, but has never been commercially developed. Devil's Well was first explored in 1952. It was developed and shown by the Wallace family as a tourist attraction in the 1960's and early 1970's, with a picnic area and gift shop. It was during Wallace's ownership that Vineyard's extensive study occurred. In the late 1960's, Devils Well was mapped by Ozark Spring Studies, an effort which required 62 weekends of trips by divers, cavers and mappers. During this era, Cave Spring was owned by the L-A-D Foundation, a private conservation group. Devils Well was sold to the National Park Service in 1974.

Ownership and Access:Cave Spring is privately held by the L-A-D Foundation, but public access from the river is allowed for viewing only. Canoeists should be aware of the extremely cold and deep water if taking a look at the spring, which is in semi-darkness at the rear of the cave. There are no developed roads to the spring. Both Devil's and Wallace Well are extremely hazardous, and gated, with no access allowed to the caves themselves. A steep gravel road leads to Devil's Well, where visitors may look through the karst window to the water from a viewing platform. Wallace Well Cave is obscure. The gated entrance is visible only by river. The pictures below contrast the view from the platform looking down today, and the view inside Devil's Well, taken by Michael Tatalovich during the mapping of the chamber.

This page last updated on May 17, 2006.
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