JOHN BROWN'S CAVE

["Ottawa Campus," Jan 1902, page 193]

A few of the old pioneers tell the story of how John Brown is reputed to have built a cave somewhere on Rock Creek, and in troublous times to have made this his rendezvous, often lying concealed for several days. No one seems to be certain of its exact location, except that it was somewhere between Rock Creek wagon bridge and the river. Lovers of romantic history are fond of speculating as to the probable location of the old cave, and two or three places have been designated as the exact spot. The place most generally known as John Brown's cave is among the rocks on the south bank of rock creek near the cut, two or three hundred yards from the river. here a large boulder has broken from the ledge, leaving a ravine about thirty feet long, ten feet long, ten feet wide and ten feet deep. A stone wall including a doorway, stands across the front of this ravine. The roof evidently consisted of logs over a foot in diameter, laid across the top, and covered with dirt to the level of the grass plot on the ledge. In the top was a trap door, opening to the level above. As the cave was invisible from the upper side, and its position made accidental approach improbable, it was an ideal hiding place, and one which one or two men could easily hold against the approach of a dozen below. The trap door offered an easy means of escape to the brow of the hill.

Of late years the roof has fallen away until now all that remains of the cave is the wall of rock only partially standing, and several old timbers, decaying and bending with age. The timbers lie across the ravine and are still covered with brush and earth, forming a bridge from the ledge to the boulder. Many say this is the historic cave. Others believe it to have formerly been the redezvous of a band of robbers who operated along the Santa Fe and California trails which crossed north of Ottawa. Many discredit both stories. Whatever else may be said of the structure, it is strangely built, is in a strange locality, and is an ideal place for just such an affair as either tale ascribes to it. John Brown may never have been nearer than the little log cabin, six miles southeast, on Middle Creek, but to the student who loves historic novelty, this remarkable place will always be remembered as John Brown's cave.

go to top