- Associated Press - Thursday, September 24, 2015

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - A cave with a long history in the Black Hills will no longer be open to the public after this weekend.

Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns will open for the last time Sunday and then cease to be a tourist attraction following a decision from the family who runs it, the Rapid City Journal reported (https://bit.ly/1L8hLHQ ).

Peter Heffron runs the cave on behalf of 13 members of his extended family. He said family members have moved away and lost their connection to the cave, which his family has operated since 1934.

“There’s no interest from the next generation in continuing with the cave and no interest in expanding our services here,” Heffron said, “so we felt that right now was probably the best time.”

Heffron estimates that more than a million people have visited the cave.

About a half-mile of its passages have been mapped, but Heffron believes there’s more to be explored. He said he hopes the cave will end up in the hands of an organization that will preserve it and conduct further exploration and research in its deeper reaches.

Before the tourist era, Heffron said, the cave site was reportedly a favored 19th century winter camp of the famous Native American leader Sitting Bull.

“We’re talking about 140 years of a constant people presence, crawling around doing untold damage just being inside that sensitive environment,” Heffron said. “It’ll be nice to close it up and let the cave be a cave again.”


Information from: Rapid City Journal, https://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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