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Fountain CavePage 14: Fountain Cave

Fountain Cave
History: Long known to the native population, Fountain Cave was the first building site in what would become St. Paul. Pierre (Pig's Eye) Parrant, a person of mixed reputation, built a cabin at the mouth of the cave in 1838. Parrant was evicted two years later by the military authorities at Fort Snelling. After Pig's Eye's departure, the cave was used as a storehouse and then as a tourist attraction from 1850-1880. Wall Fountains. St. Paul residents visited the cave for its cool air and cooler water. In 1852 a pavilion was opened nearby, which offered refreshments and lights for exploring. Fountain Cave was even featured in the "Tourists' Guide to the Health and Pleasure Resorts of the Golden Northwest, free from stress and anxiety." There were many human activities that led to the deterioration of Fountain Cave. In the late 1800's, sewage and storm water were discharged through the cave by a railroad facility. This reduced the cave's value as a tourist attraction. Residential development also damaged the area by filling the wetlands and slowing the flow of Fountain Creek into the cave. Finally, in 1960 the cave's entrance was buried during the construction of Shepard Road.
General Information
Fountain Cave was known as IN-YAN TI-PI by the local Dakota people.
Fountain Cave was estimated to have been 1,150 feet in length, and was possibly Minnesota's longest natural sandstone cave. The formation of the cave was a result of erosion. As stream water made its way to the Mississippi, the sandstone wore away. Inside the cave, a 150-foot-long winding hall led to a beautiful circular room about 50 feet in diameter.

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