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California Caverns facts for kids

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California Cavern
California Caverns.jpg
Location Cave City, California
Discovery 1849 or 1850 by Captain Joseph Taylor
Access Show cave
Reference #: 956

California Cavern is a Limestone cave in the Sierra Nevada foothills, in Cave City, Calaveras County, California.

The series of interconnected caverns are one of the earliest officially recorded caves in the Mother Lode region of California. Although one of numerous caves in the Mother Lode region, California Caverns claims the distinction of having the most extensive system of caverns and passageways.


The cave was discovered by Captain Joseph Taylor in 1849 or 1850. He opened it for public tours, making it the first show cave in California. Taylor named it Mammoth Cave but by 1894 it was known as Cave City Cave. During some downtime while not prospecting for gold, local folklore affirms Captain Taylor found the entrance to the cave by accident while setting up target practice.

California Cavern was the first to be operated as a tourist attraction in the Sierras. Early visitors included Bret Harte, Mark Twain, and John Muir, who wrote about his visit in his 1894 book, The Mountains of California.

The caverns are registered as California Historical Landmark #956.

As of 2018, the cavern was operated as a show cave by Sierra Nevada Recreation Corporation.

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