Wanetta Bright

Claire Kidwell / KSMU News

Smallin Civil War Cave near Ozark has a rich history, dating back to right after the last Ice Age.  It was also a sacred space for the Osage tribes. But after the Osage moved to Kansas and Oklahoma, it became a community spot for pioneers and townfolk. 

Wanetta Bright, who owns the cave and surrounding property with her husband, took us back on a trip to see the cave through the eyes of local explorers.

She says the explorer Henry Schoolcraft came to this place, describing it as a “secret of the great works of nature.”

Claire Kidwell / KSMU News

Smallin Civil War Cave outside of Ozark, Missouri, has more history to it than its name would suggest. KSMU’s Claire Kidwell went there to explore its ancient past—which includes a fascinating element surrounding the winter solstice.

While hiking on the trail leading up to Smallin Civil War Cave, there’s a quiet atmosphere broken only by birdsong as you make your way to the cave.