September 6, 1883
15-year-old Blanche Hiestand, a cook at Marengo Academy, overheard some of the schoolboys making plans to explore a deep sinkhole located near the school.
Blanche decided to beat them to it! She excitedly ran home after work and recruited her eleven-year-old brother, Orris. They grabbed some candles and snuck out of the house.
Blanche and Orris quickly hiked up the hill past the cemetery by the church. They found the sinkhole, surrounded by a grove of trees, and climbed to the bottom.
Cool air steamed out of the small opening. Lighting their candles, the pair peered inside. Ignoring the darkness and the mud, Blanche squeezed into the hole. Soon she called up to Orris, "Come on in!"
Together Blanche and Orris crawled down the steep, slippery slope. They found themselves in a large chamber that appeared to continue in several directions. They heard water falling and saw formations in the distance.
Though awed by the beauty of their discovery, their flickering candles caused their courage to ebb. The pair decided to turn back. The slimy, cold mud made climbing out much harder.
Blanche and Orris safely reached the top. The late summer sun felt good on their skin as the two siblings, now covered with mud, headed home. The original land owner was notified of the cave’s discovery a few days later and the cave was immediately opened to the public for tours.