The Original Opening of Bridal Cave

A popular question from visitors to our scenic family attraction at the Lake of the Ozarks is "What was the first thing built in Thunder Mountain Park?" They are usually surprised to find out that the first structure built was actually the boat dock. As a matter of fact, it was one of the very first boat docks on the Lake of the Ozarks. (According to Union Electric, dock #527, to be exact!)

Bridal Cave, Thunder Mountain Park, Lake of the Ozarks

Why a Boat Dock First?
When the excavation of Bridal Cave's entrance started in the spring of 1948, there were no roads in the area yet. Two separate crews worked simultaneously to get the park opened. The first crew started their work at the old highway 5, where the built a road and parking lots, and also installed power lines. 

The second crew was hired to excavate the cave entrance, but the only way for them to reach the cave was by boat. Without that initial boat dock, they wouldn't have been able to get to work each morning. 

Bridal Cave, Thunder Mountain Park, Lake of the Ozarks
Bridal Cave, Thunder Mountain Park, Lake of the Ozarks

Opening the Cave
Since the first crew was still working on putting up power lines, all of the initial work done to open up the cave entrance was performed by the light of lanterns. The original entrance was very small, only 18" X 36." In the beginning, it had to be dug out by hand. 

The workers in charge of that were also responsible for building wooden walkways and wiring the cave for electric lights. Bridal Cave was one of the first cave tours to have electric lights. The original development of the cave took 6 months to complete. It was opened to the public for tours on October 16, 1948. 

Bridal Cave, Thunder Mountain Park, Lake of the Ozarks

The Weddings Begin
Soon after the opening of the cave to the public, inquiries began coming in about hosting weddings inside of it. While there were originally no intentions of holding weddings here, the continuous requests prompted Bridal Cave to host its first wedding on June 1, 1949, less than a year after its opening date. 

Mr. & Mrs. Basil Cole from Sedalia, MO had the honor of being the first couple married inside Bridal Cave in modern times. To this day, over 3,547 couples from all around the world have exchanged vows in our stalactite adorned underground bridal chapel, a very unique wedding venue at the Lake of the Ozarks

Bridal Cave, Thunder Mountain Park, Lake of the Ozarks

Look At Us Today
Over the past 69 years, Bridal Cave & Thunder Mountain Park have continued to expand with the addition of more parking lots, the rock and mineral shop, the sportswear shop, nature trails, the picnic pavilion, and the gemstone sluice. (Which was just doubled in size recently! See our "Calling All Rock Hounds" blog for more about that.)

We've become one of the best attractions at the Lake of the Ozarks, visited by thousands of people from all over the world every year. Sometimes it hard to believe that it all started with a dock on the lake! We're certainly glad that someone had the vision to make this place a reality so that people from everywhere can visit us for Family Fun... As It Should Be! 

One of America's most scenic 
cave tours.

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526 Bridal Cave Road
Camdenton, MO 65020
(573) 346-2676


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