Zane Shawnee Caverns
The Zane Shawnee Caverns is a cave system in Jefferson Township, Logan County, Ohio, United States. The caverns are a show cave, presently owned by the United Remnant Band of the Shawnee Nation, a state-recognized tribe. They are the first Native American group to own land in Ohio since 1830, the time of Indian removal.
These caverns are located between Zanesfield and Bellefontaine, Ohio, near the Ohio Caverns. Both cave systems were formed by the same glacial process which deposited moraine upon nearby Campbell Hill.
History and site features
The land adjacent to Zane Shawnee Caverns was historically used as a thoroughfare by the Shawnee, as it provided a portage between the Great Miami River and the rivers feeding into Lake Erie (particularly the Maumee River). The caverns were not generally known until they were discovered in 1892, when John Dunlap rescued a boy and a dog from a sinkhole. The caverns were named the Zane Caverns, after the nearby village of Zanesfield. The caverns were operated privately as a show cave throughout most of the 20th century.
In 1996, the Shawnee Nation, URB, recognized by the state since 1979, purchased the caverns and surrounding land. They renamed the site as the Zane Shawnee Caverns. They are the first Native American group to own land in the state since 1830 and the time of Indian removal.
The URB continues to operate the caverns as a show cave. They established the Shawnee Woodland Native American Museum, a Native American museum, on the site near Bellefontaine. This museum is among the few Native American museums owned and operated by a Native American tribe. Its displays include an exhibit about George Drouillard, a mixed-blood Shawnee guide who was the chief hunter and interpreter for the Lewis & Clark Expedition of 1804-1806. It explored the territory of the Louisiana Purchase and made it to the Pacific Ocean at the mouth of the Columbia River.
Also on the cavern's site is "Southwind Park", a camping and retreat area. It is also used to host URB events. A small permanent settlement has been erected at the site.
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Inside the cave are many rare formations, such as cave pearls, claws, cave pearl nests on ledges, colder temperatures, and odd growth periods.
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