Bluff Dwellers Cave is great for a family outing as well as recreational spot for hikers.

Bluff Dwellers Cave is great for a family outing as well as recreational spot for hikers.

Deep in the heart of southern Missouri lies a magnificent and mysterious limestone cavern with natural "musical chimes,” a 10-ton balanced rock, an impressive limestone dam, along with stalactites, stalagmites and a variety of cave formations.

Open to the public since June 5, 1927, this cavern has been operated by the same family more than 90 years and all of it was started by a farmer named Arthur Browning who discovered the cave in 1925 while setting up traps on his property. He could feel cold air blowing out the top of a small hole in the ground. He enlarged the hole big enough so that he could easily pass through the entrance.

Raymond L. Bunch, the youngest son from the third generation, is currently running his family establishment because from a young age Bunch loved his family’s cavern and valued its historical importance. Bunch recalls visiting the cave all the time when his aunt and uncle were still alive and living in the 1941 Browning’s house, which people can now rent to stay in for a few nights. For more information on the Browning’s house visit www.thecaverninn.com.

Located two miles south of Noel on Highway 59 and nestled between the bluffs is The Cavern Inn. The limestone house was home to C. Arthur Browning, who discovered Bluff Dwellers Cave in 1925. The house — now an inn for visitors — was originally built in the late 1920’s and as the family grew, an addition was added which almost doubled the size of the home.

“Since I can remember,” Bunch said, smiling, “three or four years old coming down here, running up and down from the house to the cave, I thought I was helping running things from the house or running errands for them and stuff.”   

Overall, Bunch enjoys this slower pace lifestyle and feels very proud of the fact that his ancestors, along with many of their colleagues have helped the cave stay and look natural as much as possible. Locals, along with people from all over the world enjoy coming to this gorgeous cavern.

“We get a combination of people from all over the country,” Bunch added, “but we get quite a few people who live in the Four State Area.”

If anyone is curious in knowing more about Bluff Dwellers Cavern in Noel, be prepared to interact with wonderful staff that will make your tours fun and filled with laughter. Perhaps you may even see salamanders or bats inside the cavern, too.

There are five different species of salamanders, three species of bats and albino Bristly Cave Crayfish.

The cave formation known as Musical Chimes is one of the most popular attractions. The Chimes, cave formations also known as draperies, are very thin, so delicate light can shine right through them.When your trained tour guide taps on these draperies you will hear them reverberate like a drum, producing a unique sound. This formation has been an icon at Bluff Dwellers Cave since its opening in 1927.

Bluff Dwellers is a unique landmark in the Ozarks and has been attracting tourists from all over the world for decades. Ever since Browning discovered the lost cavern on his land, Browning, along with the rest of his family took pride in educating the public about this magnificent and historic place.

Before it fell into the hands of the Browning bloodline, Native Americans from the Archaic period, beginning about 8500 B.C., used the cave until it was sealed shut from a landslide 2,000-3,000 years ago. The cave was used mostly for food processing and storage. A constant 56°F, the cave made a great storage spot for food and goods, both in the winter (no freeze) and summer (no heat/spoil).