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Smallin Civil War Cave is a real hidden gem in southwestern Missouri.

Located in the Ozark Mountains some 26 miles south of Springfield, Missouri, tours of the cave were given in the 1960s but were discontinued in 1969 when the cave was sold and donated to a church.

Knowledge about the cave died down. “Some people didn’t even know the cave was there,” said Wanetta Bright, co-owner.

After Bright and her husband Kevin bought the cave, they brought back tours in 2010 for the first time in 50 years. Groups can learn about the fascinating history of this unusual cave on one-hour tours.

Visitors should not let the cave’s name fool them.

“The name is Smallin Cave so they always just kind of expect it to be a little hole in the wall place,” said Bright said. “They’re always amazed at how big it is. And there’s a lot of history here.”

The Cave is named after the Smallin family, an early owner of the cave.

Smallin Civil War Cave
Credit: Courtesy of Smallin Civil War Cave

A visit to Smallin Cave includes a walk down a valley that leads into the cave, with a trickling stream running alongside the trek.

Good news for many visitors is that there are no stairs. Although the tour covers about a half mile, it’s a “nice easy walk,” Bright said.

“We’re a mom and pop place but we’re more than mom and pop,” Bright said. “You come in and you quickly realize it’s a world-class cave and it’s beautiful.”

Smallin Cave welcomes group visitors. “Bus drivers will find it’s pretty easy to get into. And we’ve got a nice big parking lot and a big entrance—that’s a big bonus.”

Parking is free, and the driver and group leader are comped. Groups of 15 to 19 get a discount on the one-hour tour with a bigger discount for groups of 20 or more. A Lantern Tour, including dinner, is offered in the fall.

For more information call 417-551-4545 or go to smallincave.com.