Cave-in-Rock pirate cave (7 photos + 1 video)

Category: Nostalgia, PEGI 0+
22 May 2024

River pirates, bloodthirsty bandits and serial killers used this secluded corner to carry out dark deeds and hide their dirty secrets.

Cave-in-Rock Park, located near the village of the same name, is a fairly tranquil public park. But it has a rich history associated with gambling, piracy, murder and other atrocities.

The 17-meter wide cave is located on the banks of the Ohio River. When a French explorer stumbled upon the site in 1739, he named the natural refuge “Le Roc Cave.” It has a cleft at the top that serves as a natural chimney, making it an ideal and quite comfortable place to live in the wild.

Almost immediately after the cave got its name, it turned into a haven for villains of all stripes. Beginning around 1790, Cave-in-Rock became a base camp for a group of river pirates who ambushed punts carrying cargo on the Ohio River. Pirates, bandits, fugitives and murderers used the crevice as a hideout and hangout where they could plot, gamble, drink and even kill. They say that undesirable people were easily thrown off the cliff here.

Jesse James

Notable criminals who have lurked in these mountainous depths include the Harp brothers, who are considered America's first serial killers due to a series of murders they committed in 1798. There is even a local legend that Jesse James and his gang once took refuge here.

However, the dark times could not last forever. In 1799, a group of vigilantes known as the Exterminators raided the cave and surrounding area, effectively destroying the bandits' hideout. Of course, new residents with criminal predilections appeared in the cave, but none of them stayed for long. It was even used as a church in the mid-1800s, and a small village was founded nearby, which later became known as Cave-in-Rock.

Today the cave is empty. Visitors, of course, cannot stay here. But they are quite capable of exploring space and feeling a little like pirates.

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