Government surveyors discovered the cave in the early 1800's. It originally was known as Big Mouth Cave because of its large entranceway.
The Atkisson family--longtime owners of the property--opened the cave to the public in 1960. They intended only to display the Indian artifacts and skeletal remains found there rather than showcase the cave itself. But that would change a few years later when Lee Mace and partner Al Lechner leased the site and developed the cave for viewing. "Improvements" included a tramway leading to the cave entrance, a man-made lake within the cave, a pontoon boat ride on the underground lake, requisite lighting, artifact displays, and--of course--a gift shop.
The cave closed upon the death of Lee Mace, about 1987, and remains closed to this day.
Indian Burial Cave is located on D Highway, near the Osage River, about two miles below Bagnell Dam. It is still remembered by many seasoned travelers because of the distinctive road signs that advertised the cave. They dotted all the major highways in the region. The legs of the signs were designed to resemble two large Indian arrows pointed downward. The billboard itself was suspended between them. On the largest versions those arrow shafts were as big as telephone poles.
© 1999-2000 by Michael Gillespie. All rights reserved.