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Oregon Caves Celebrates Its Centennial

Oregon Caves National Monument

National Park News

“Whereas ...the Oregon Caves…, are of unusual scientific interest and importance, and it appears the public interest will be promoted by reserving these caves with as much land as necessary for the proper protection thereof, as a National Monument…”

These words first proclaimed in 1909 by President William Howard Taft were read aloud by ranger Dave Thompson as superintendent Vicki Snitzler officially opened the centennial celebration at Oregon Caves National Monument. Coinciding festivities included the 75th anniversary opening of the monument’s hotel/chateau and the beginning of future restoration projects. The state of Oregon’s 150th anniversary (sesquicentennial) ongoing gala was also celebrated.

Cutting the ribbon for the chateau restoration project was chateau supporter Mary Oberst, accompanied by her husband, Oregon’s governor, Ted Kulongoski. Assisting the restoration launch were Snitzler and Sue Densmore, Friends of the Caves president, organizer, and fundraiser, with other active supporters of the initiative. Superintendent Snitzler also opened the caves for another 100 years of preservation, protection, and enjoyment by the public.

Visitors present at the monument for the two-day event, organized by ranger Matthew Klozik, were treated to anniversary cake, ice cream, and a host of ranger programs. including a historic size camp fire, story telling and musical presentations. Community partners and organizations, including the Illinois Valley Fire Department, Siskiyou Field Institute, Illinois Valley Arts Council, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Bureau of Land Management, had individual educational and informational tables to provide additional activities for visitors.

To mark the event, descendents of the first known person to find and enter the cave, Elijah Davidson, also attended the reading.  Davidson found the caves while hunting in the rugged mountains of southwestern Oregon in 1874.  Thirty-five years later, concerned citizens throughout Southwestern Oregon and Northern California lobbied President Taft to draft and sign the proclamation to protect the caves from vandalism and promote tourism in the region.

Thanks to their efforts 100 years ago, this special place of “unusual scientific interest” can celebrate its centennial. Through “proper protection” over the next 100 years, we can provide a future generation the opportunity to celebrate the bicentennial.


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