Truitt's Cave Mystery

About a month ago my buddies and I went on our annual camping float trip. Along the way we ran across this neat little road side attraction that looked like it had all but been forgotten.   It took some convincing but I managed to get my friends to pull over so I could snap a few pictures.  The  place was pretty run down with everything being boarded and locked up.  I was able to get a few pictures through the windows but there really didn’t appear like there was much to see. It looked like a big rock room that went around in a circle.  It was cool looking but didn’t look like anything more than a cheap tourist attraction.

A few days ago a ran across the pictures and decided to Google the attraction name:  Truitt’s Cave.  I was amazed at what I found.  Turns out the cave was discovered in 1929 by a man named John Truitt who happened to discover 6 other caves in the Ozarks area.  Truitt’s Cave opened to the public in 1940 and had 60 years of life under its belt before it closed in 2000.  It was purchased by new owners in 2002 and remained open for another 2 years before being closed and put up for sale once again. In fact, for a mere $375,000 dollars, you can buy this gem off of craiglist!  Click Here for the Ad.

Here is a little bit more information that I found regarding this mysterious attraction.

TRUITT’S CAVE
Featured in “Ripley’s Believe It or Not.” Cave restaurant of yesteryear, with Underground River, Trout Reservoir, Root Canal Wall, Underground Geode, Endangered Salamanders and many rare formations. Learn of John Truitt, “Caveman of the Ozarks” who was the discoverer and developer of six area caves. Visit the Rock Shop, where amethyst, onyx, crystals, fossils, etc. are available. Walk down Waterfall Lane, Cross the Cedar Bridge, and pan for golden goodies at Truitt’s Frontier Flea Market, or just bring a lunch, and enjoy the Picnic Area. See one or all of three caves. Price Range $4.00-$6.00. Call for off season schedule. Have a super safe summer! 417-436-2299. Source – http://www.ozarkcaving.com/comcaves/truitts.htm

After seeing this, I really wish we had a better means in which to explore this forgotten memory. I would have loved to been able to go deep into the cave to check out its wonder. But, alas, boards and locks kept us away. Maybe someone will buy this one day and return it to its 60 year glory.

29 thoughts on “Truitt's Cave Mystery

  1. Mister (Dad) Truitt was also responsible for the McDonald county caves: Ozark Wonder Cave, Bluff Dweller's Cave, and an old show cave that has since caved-in on itself (physically, not just financially): Mt. Shira Cave.

    And to think the only other cave that was featured on 'Ripley's Believe It or Not' is Luray Caverns in Virginia with Leland Sprinkle's 'Stalacpipe Organ'.

  2. There was also Mystery Cave and Wind Cave opened by Dad Truitt in McDonald county; there was a seventh: Crystal Cave but I don't believe it ever got quite to the opening process. I believe it was Wind Cave that collapsed physically around the entrance not Mt. Shira Cave…so much that you could scarcely even find the entrance today.

    Truitt's Cave structure follows a fairly linear and level passage that goes back into the bluff for about 1/10 of a mile. One of the most mysterious formations of the cave I remember was a huge span of wafer-thin flowstone that looked like a canopy and there was a forest of stalamites growing up through it.

  3. Very interesting. I too had to do some convincing with my wife today to stop and let me explore. The place had a since of mystery. I told my wife if I was 20 years younger I would've spent all day exploring around and probably getting through the door. I'm sure there has to be a grotto group around that goes in the cave. Maybe there's someway to connect up with the owner and get a pass into the cave (?). I'm a cave owner myself for the time being in Nashville, it's up for sale behind our house there. It goes back (explored) about 150 feet. Here's the listing, not much said about the cave. http://nashville.craigslist.org/reb/1776502485.html

  4. we went to Truitt's cave yesterday – it was beyond a urban explorers dream. No one was around at all, there was alot of trash laying around, but the overall "cave" was untouched. Locked up tight. HOWEVER, we had a really nice visit with the Lanagan police. He pulled in ( I guess to see what we were doing ) and we ended up getting a history lesson I will forever appreciate. This officer was wonderful to talk to. Told us some history of the cave's past and even let us look around the old house up in the woods next to it. Talking to him ( the officer) has peaked my interest quite a bit. A GREAT LITTLE TOWN and a very HELPFUL police officer made this visit a treasure. I only wish we would have got his name.

  5. I have a house two mins from it (the cave), but I've never had the guts to go over there. I haven't lived there in Lanagan long, but I know the police. I'll have to hit him up for the history lesson some time.

  6. For those of you who would like to enter the cave you may be able to contact the real estate agent and may beable to gain access his name is Donnie O'brien phone number 417-456-2034 and he may beable to help you. I am going to try to place a bid on it in a couple months or so if not purchased by then.

  7. This is the owner pulled from public records from McDonald County, MO records online @ mcdonald.villagis.net

    search parcel number: 087025003028001000

    Malloy K Southern (417) 455-0851
    12629 Kentucky Rd, Neosho, MO 64850

  8. My father-in-law and mother-in-law, Virgil and Norma Dean, used to own the cave. I have lots of fond memories of my boys and I going and spending time with their grandparents during the summer and Chirstmas holidays there with them. In the past when I was younger, I have searched the parts of the cave that is not for the public, as well as, lead tours through it. The path through it is all paved with cement and it is wheelchair accessable easily. It is well lighted along the path. It was beautiful inside. I hope it has not been destroyed. The cave room that we had the restaurant in was always cool in the summer and a nice place to stay and visit when it was hot outside. It has a hole in the natural fireplace that goes up to the top of the mountain inside the room. I just thought of it tonight and looked it up on the internet. I wish the people who buy it as many fun times as when our family had in it. Ann White (formerly Ann Dean)

  9. Like many once-beautiful caves, Truitt's Cave has been extensively vandalized over the years, with some of the vandalism occurring more recently. Two of the major formations have been destroyed and the other major formation seriously damaged. Many smaller formations have been marred or broken off as well. The cave is small and wasn't heavily decorated in the first place, so I'm afraid there's really not much left to it from a commercial standpoint. The owners eventually strengthened the door, but the damage was done – one would have thought that the place would have steel doors or iron grates across the entrance like other caves, but no such luck. It's really a shame that vandals will do this to natural formations that take thousands of years to form. Too bad, but it still might be a fun property!

  10. I have 2 ostcards of Truitts cave, I would venture to guess from the 1940s. I wanted to ebay them but don't really think they would sell. If you'd like them, shoot me an email.

  11. I work in Lanagan, and the cave has been purchased by someone from Dallas I believe. I have heard everything from it being opened into an exclusive bed & breakfast type thing to a spring water bottling company. We will have to see.

    I don't believe they are actually "digging out" the cave. I know they have brought in some trucks of gravel and been digging some trenches to work on some drainage issues they have. That little strip there has a lot of flooding issues because of all the drainage issues going on there.

    I can't wait until they are done to see what they are planning on doing.

  12. we were there in in 2002 i believe. had a great tour; really enjoyed the place. in February of 2003 i received an email, because of the web site, from someone who was buying the cave. I guess they didn't make it. sad. it was a great place. i, too, hope that someone makes a go of it. we might go back!

  13. HEY BABY GIRL. NOT SURE HOW GRAMMA GOT ONTO THIS LINK BUT WE SOLD THE CAVE IN 2000 SHORTLY AFTER SELLING THE OLD SPANISH TREASURE CAVE IN SULPHUR SPRINGS ARK. HAD MANY PEOPLE RETURNING AND BRINGING OTHERS . WE GAVE A GREAT TOUR! HOWEVER IT GOT GO BE MORE THAN GRAM COULD CONTINUE TO WORK. WE LOVED IT THOUGH.!!!!! . DROVE PAST A FEW DAYS AGO AND SAW ALL THE EXCAVATING CEMENT ETC. AND SOMEONE SAID IT WAS PURCHASED FOR "AN END OF DAYS RETREAT". HOPE NOTHING WAS DESTROYED. A CAVE ENGINEER WHO TOURED THE CAVE SAID IT CONTAINED EVERY KNOWN FORMATION WHICH WAS REALLY QUITE RARE. WE ALSO HAD THE A,LBINO BLIND CAVE FISH AND SALAMANDERS ETC. ETC. STILL MISS IT. LOVE YA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. The wife and I visited Truitts Cave back when it was open and that area had such a relaxing charm. To bad all the tourists left to spend all their money in Branson.
    Those with postcards of Truitts (or others mentioned here) could donate them to the McDonald County Historical Society, P.O. Box 572, Pineville, MO 64856. Phone: 417-223-3556

  15. John Truitt, the founder of Truitt's cave, is my great-great grandfather. We have tried to visit the cave, but it was closed at the time we drove down. Anyone with information, post cards, etc, that we could have we'd really appreciate it. Dad Truitt was quite the wanderer, and we have very little information about him.

    Thank you!!

  16. My husband and I bought the cave. We are working on opening a bar and grill. Check out the local newspapers for opening dates and come out to enjoy a piece of Lanagan history.

  17. My family lived at the cave back in '77 when I was a freshman in high school. I used to give tours through the cave and work in the gift shop. At the time, there was a "Pioneer Fort" and some small buildings by the entrance and we would sell fireworks around this time of year. We ended up blowing up more than we sold and having bottle rocket wars from the towers of the fort 🙂 We tried buying the property and the acreage but it turned out it had been parceled up and pieces sold over the years that would make it almost impossible at the time. It was a wonderful time in my life and I remember hearing all about Mr Truitt. Living there and visiting Spanish Treasure Cave, Ozark Wonder Cave and tons of the native, undeveloped caves in McDonald County fueled a lifelong love of caves and casual spelunking. It would be great to see the cave re-opened and a successful business there I get back to SW MO once in a while and will stop by to chk.

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