15248 E. Township Road 178 • Bellevue, OH 44811
Phone: 419-483-6711

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History of the Caverns

An original Seneca Caverns Ohio brochure from the 1950s
An original Seneca Caverns Ohio brochure from the 1950s

Preserved close to its original natural state, Seneca Caverns is a unique and educational adventure which you will always remember.

Seneca Caverns was discovered in June 1872 by two boys, Peter Rutan and Henry Komer of Flat Rock, Ohio, while hunting rabbits with their dog. Their dog chased a rabbit to a brush pile, where the dog and rabbit then disappeared.

The boys dug around the brush pile and discovered an opening, which was actually a natural sinkhole. The boys fell through the opening, landing in the first level of the cave. They found their dog, and crawled back up to the cave entrance. They then returned home and told everyone about their discovery.

Mr. Emmanuel Good
Mr. Emmanuel Good

The cave became known as Good’s Cave, for Mr. Emmanuel Good, the owner of the farm on which the cave was located. In 1929, Don and Fannie Bell moved to Bellevue, where Mr. Bell established his law practice. Mr. Bell became interested in caves while taking an elective geology course at the University of Michigan Law School. The course included a field trip to Mammoth Cave area in Kentucky. The great beauty of these underground natural wonders fascinated Mr. Bell; this fascination remained with him all of his life.Soon after moving to Bellevue, Mr. Bell heard about Good’s Cave. It was his interest in caves that compelled him to explore the cave with Mr. Good.

In 1931, Mr. Bell discovered a series of passageways and rooms not previously known to exist, which led to an underground river, the water table. With this discovery, Don Bell thought the cave was large enough to develop commercially. Following two and a half year’s improvement effort, Seneca Caverns was opened to the public on May 14, 1933.

Don and Richard Bell
Seneca Caverns Ohio – a Family Tradition. Don Bell (left) in the Cavern Office in 1963 and his son Richard Bell (right) in the same Cavern Office in 1970.

Retained close to its original, natural, wild state, this subterranean tour is truly a unique and educational experience you will always remember. Experts have stated that Seneca Caverns may be the only cave of its kind open for public visitation. The official designation as a Registered Natural Landmark by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, reflects this quality!

Vintage photo of 3 tour guides.
Vintage photo of 3 tour guides circa 1933. Left to right. Walter Baughman, Irvin Peltier, Harold Page

Explore Seneca Caverns… Ohio’s Greatest Natural Underground Adventure!” Preserved close to its original natural state, Seneca Caverns is a unique and educational adventure which you will always remember. Former Ohio Governor James A. Rhodes: “… a splendid attraction that should be seen by all Americans and especially Ohioans.”

Seneca Caverns is one of Ohio’s largest underground caverns, and one of America’s most fascinating geological wonders.

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