SDC Timeline

This time-line was graciously contributed by forum member Copper.

The Osage, a Native American tribe, discovers the cave accidentally while on a black bear hunt. They reported their stories to early French trappers about the great abyss they called “The Devil’s Den”. The cave is left alone for many centuries.

“The Devil’s Den” is explored by Henry Taylor Blow. Blow was a lead minor from Missouri. Throughout his party’s explorations they notice smooth rock with veins of color throughout. They reported that they discovered marble and from that point on the cave was known as Marble Cave. One very interesting find of Taylor’s was several Spanish style ladders found within the cave. Legends spread of Spanish Gold in the area.

Marmaros is registered as a town on August 11th. The town housed the miners of Marble Cave and their families. The town included a hotel, pottery shop, furniture factory, general store, stage coach stop and saloon. Marmaros is later destroyed by fire; the vigilante group known as the Bald Knobbers were said to have started the blaze.

The Marble Cave Mining and Manufacturing Company sells Marble Cave to William Henry Lynch, a Canadian entrepreneur. Lynch paid $10,000 for the square mile of land. Legend says he purchased the cave sight without ever seeing it.

Marble Cave is opened to visitors by William Lynch and his daughters, Miriam and Genevieve.

Major passageways are explored. Genevieve Lynch leads six men and one woman on an expedition of the No-Name River Passage. The group journeyed for several hours into the depths of the cave discovering two lakes along the way. This passage today is known as the Lakes Passage and has not been fully explored.
William Lynch began clearing brush to improve the tourist route from Branson to Marble Cave Lodge. He hired a nine year old boy named Lester Vining and paid him 25 cents a day to help clear the path for the roadway. The road today is known as Highway 76.
The two sisters rename the cave Marvel. Marble was once thought to be in the cave, but turned out to be flat layers of limestone. The ladies thought Marvel sounded more poetic and that it captured the true appearance of the cave.

Hugo and Mary Herschend lease Marvel Cave for 99 years. Hugo and Mary along with their sons Jack and Pete improve the cave over the next decade.

Hugo Herschend suffers a heart attack and later dies, leaving Mary the cave.

Red Foley’s “Ozark Jubilee” features the square dance festivals held inside Marvel Cave’s Cathedral Room. The Ozark Jubilee is one of the nation’s top rated television shows.

May 11th the Marvel Cave Cable Train is dedicated by Casey Jones Jr. The train made it possible to give a one way tour through the cave.
The tour was daunting having to travel 500 feet below the surface and then retracing the steps back up. The Cable Train tripled the number of tourist through the cave. Large crowds filled the Hospitality House and the Herschend family decided to rebuild the old mining town that once stood at the mouth of the cave to entertain cave visitors. The town was called Marmaros, (Greek for Marble) but Don Richardson realizing they didn’t have much of an advertising budget decided to call the Ozark Mountain Village, Silver Dollar City. They gave change in silver dollars in hopes visitors would spend them and spread the news about Silver Dollar City via word of mouth.

Silver Dollar City opens on top of Marvel Cave. The General Store, The Doll Shop, Wilderness Church, a hotel, The Homestead Cabins, and a stagecoach ride are added to the site to accompany Marvel Cave.
The two stage coaches were purchased for $5,000 from Adventure Town in Alexandria Bay, New York. One of the coaches was made in 1888 in a small town in New Hampshire, while the other once belonged to the Vanderbilt family.
McHaffie Homestead cabin was built in 1843. The cabin was donated by Opal Parnell; she had been born in the cabin near Forsyth, Missouri. The cabin recreates pioneer living to today’s modern guests.
The Wilderness Church was discovered along Bear Creek; it too had been used by real pioneers. The church has for years sheltered worshipers, school children and wedding couples.
In its first year of operation, Silver Dollar City has 60,000 visitors.

Grist Mill, with its thirteen foot waterwheel, and the Swinging Bridge are added.

The Frisco Silver Dollar Line, a steam train, is added.
The train had once been owned by Henry Ford and was purchased for Silver Dollar City at a cost of $15,000.

The number of guests to the city grows to 500,000.
The Woodcarving Shop opens introducing craftsman to the city.
July 7th Don Piccard sets a world record for underground altitude by flying his hot air balloon in Marvel Cave’s Cathedral Room.

The Beverly Hillbillies help bring national attention to the city. The Beverly Hillbillies film several episodes on location at Silver Dollar City.
The Glass Blowing shop opens.

For the first time Silver Dollar City implements an admissions charge.
The Flooded Mine ride, Fine Metals, Funnel Cakes and Slantin Sam’s Mining Shack, known now as Grandfathers Mansion, are all added.

The Candle Shop, Sullivan’s Mill and Bakery, along with a new ride called Jim Owens Ozark Float Trip are added. The float trip takes visitors on a river adventure through caves, whirlpools and even falling outhouses.

Herman the Hermit’s Tree House, later renamed Huck Finn’s Hideaway, more cabins, and restaurants are added.

Ozark Market Place, Tintype Shop, and Shot Tower are built.

Marvel Cave is designated a Registered Natural Landmark. The cave is praised for its preservation of the gray bat and the Ozarks blind cave salamander.
Fire in the Hole, an indoor rollercoaster through the burning town of Marmaros, opens for the season.

The Silver Dollar Saloon brings its handsome men and dancing girls to the city.

Silver Dollar City has 1.4 million guests. The city was honored to be number one in repeat business.

The all new Deep Woods Section increases the city’s size by 25%. The area includes Rube Dugan’s Diving Bell. The Bell simulated an under water boat trip in search for the lost Yoakum Silver Mine.

The Toy Shop, another candy shop, and more merchandise opportunities are added.

The Deep Woods Section expands the City’s entertainment options. The Courthouse Theatre is added, bringing hilarious comedy to an indoor stage. (The Courthouse Theatre is eventually changed to the Gaslight Theatre and is now known as the Riverfront Playhouse.)
The Playground opens.

Jim Owen’s Ozark float trip is turned into the American Plunge. The ride is reversed and a shoot the shoots style hill is added. A portion of the Float Trip’s channel can still be viewed today around the entrance of Wildfire.

Dockside Theatre is added.

Echo Hollow Amphitheatre, which seated 2,000, opens and later expands to seat 4,000.
Mary Herschend, co-creator of Silver Dollar City, dies. Mary helped the economic viability of the Ozark Mountain Region and the state of Missouri.

Tom Sawyer’s Landing is added bringing rope towers and new rides with Becky’s Carousel as its center piece. Each horse on the carousel was hand carved in house.

The Lost River of the Ozarks, a river raft ride, replaces Rube’s Diving Belle.

Wilderness Water Toboggan slides its way into existence at Silver Dollar City.

The Land of Forgotten Crafts opens to visitors.

The Balloon Ride, The Ferris Wheel, and The Kid’s Coaster opens in the new and improved Tom Sawyer’s Landing.
The town’s square is remodeled with a more Victorian theme. The General Store is replaced with a Mercantile and employees are dressed in decorative Victorian costumes. The change is not received well and the Victorian concept is quickly changed back to Ozark Mountain style.

Furniture Factory opens. The factory uses only the tools of the 1880s and 1890s.
Guns and targets are added to the Flooded Mine changing the name to The Great Shoot Out at the Flooded Mine.

Bubbles and Balloons, a new festival which will become the Nation Children’s Festival, begins.
The city extends its season for the Twelve Days of Christmas which will become an Old Time Christmas. The Christmas season will host Silver Dollar City’s largest crowds.

Thunderation, a $7 million runaway mine train designed by Arrow Dynamics, opens and is said to be one of the best mine train coasters in existence.
The Boatworks Theater and Eva and Delilah’s Bakery open.

Marvel Cave commemorates its 100 years of tourism. Five hot air balloons are flown inside the Cathedral Room of the cave to help celebrate.
Olde-Country Folk Festival turns into World Fest bringing the 1880s culture of other nations to Silver Dollar City.
The Opera House opens its doors with “Listen to the River”, a full scale Broadway style production.

1996 The log Oak Trail Schoolhouse opens to guests with schoolmarm Bonnie Jean.

Geyser Gulch, the world’s largest tree house, opens.

Silver Dollar City is the recipient of the Applause Award, the theme park industry’s Top Award for Excellence.
BuzzSaw Falls opens and is billed as the world’s first liquid coaster.

Silver Dollar City celebrates its 40th Birthday in the new 25,000 sq. ft. Red Gold Heritage Hall. The hall brings large scale productions to the city and creates fun unique dining opportunities for Festival Food. Bethlehem is recreated in the Hall for an Old Time Christmas.

B&M creates Wildfire a $14 million multi looping coaster for Silver Dollar City.

Impressing crowds, “For the Glory”, a Civil War musical, opens in the Opera House.

Wilderness Water Toboggan is overhauled and renamed the Water Works Water Toboggan.

Powder Keg, an S&S launch coaster, replaces BuzzSaw Falls. A portion of the old BuzzSaw track is incorporated in the new Powder Keg.

Bluegrass and BBQ, a new festival, welcomes record crowds.

The Grand Exposition, a new one acre area children’s area, is added to the city. The area is dedicated to families and includes new rides. The Wave Carousel, Electro Spin, Mighty Galleon, Expo Coaster, Elephant March, Racing Regatta, Wings of Wonder, Royal Tea Party, Happy Frogs and the Ladybugs are all part of The Grand Exposition.
Marvel Cave adds The Lantern Light Tour – a tour that focuses more heavily on the history of the cave and is conducted in the darkness of Marvel, using old time lanterns.

The Giant Barn Swing is added to a new area in Silver Dollar City. The S&S launch ride swings visitors over 70 feet in the air.

The Culinary and Crafts School is built, offering a variety of magazine-style cooking and craft demonstrations, as well as a huge back porch line with rocking chairs overlooking Echo Hollow.

During the summer, Tom Sawyer’s Landing is officially closed and the rides are removed. A fence is erected around the area with posters teasing a new attraction in 2009.

Fears caused by the Great Recession lead the park to delay the new attraction. A giant pit was dug out for the new attraction, but sat still and empty with the fence remaining up all around it. Later in the season work began again and the posters re-appeared teasing the attraction for 2010.

Tom and Huck’s River Blast opens. The new Mack Splash Battle is well-received for it’s hefty theming and is the largest ride of it’s type in the country.


A new play area targeted mainly at very young children is created in the previously empty hollow underneath the swinging bridge. The area is dubbed “Half-Dollar Holler” and features a bouncy net walkway strung through several small treehouses, climbing cages, the return of the park’s carousel (now dubbed the Hugo and Mary Carousel), a kiddie swing ride salvaged from Celebration City, and a story telling nook.



A wild and innovative new wooden coaster opens at Silver Dollar City called Outlaw Run. The ride is heralded for trailblazing a new era of wooden coaster design through its specially engineered track sections that allow for inversions and previously unimaginable elements. The layout features a sideways airtime hill, a 135 degreeĀ  (practically upside down) inline overbank, and two barrel rolls.