You might remember the scene in Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer where Tom and Becky Thatcher got lost in a cave. Well, here’s a little bit of trivia about the real cave you might not know.
The cave, at 11 degrees (52 degrees Fahrenheit) year round, has housed town meetings, weddings and may still be home to the ghost of a teenage girl. St. Louis surgeon Dr. Joseph Nash McDowell, who founded the Missouri Medical College, owned the cave when Twain was a boy. McDowell was a gifted physician and maybe a little crazy. “He was trying to petrify a human body,” Susie Shelton, general manager of the cave, said. “His own daughter died of pneumonia at 14. He took a copper cylinder lined with glass. He filled it with an alcohol mixture, put in his daughter, and hung it from a ceiling in a cave room.”