Alvin McDonald Diary
This book is an exact replica of early Wind Cave explorer Alvin McDonald’s Diary that is now on display in the Wind Cave Visitor Center and is available exclusively from Black Hills Parks & Forests Association.
Alvin was not quite 18 years old when he began recording his cave explorations in 1890. Alvin fell in love with the cave and in his few years of discovery, he systematically explored about 8-10 miles (13-16k) of passageways. He kept a journal in which he described his exploration of the cave and the naming of the rooms and passageways. He explored the cave with candlelight and rolled out string to mark his way out of the cave. He shared his passion for the cave with visitors by becoming, in his own words, “the chief guide” at Wind Cave.
Alvin quickly realized the complex nature of the cave and wrote in his journal, “have given up the idea of finding the end of Wind Cave”. He appreciated the beauty and natural features of the cave, but like others of his era, removed samples of cave formations to be sold to visitors. Alvin did have somewhat of an ethic, and would only remove samples from the cave in areas where he did not take visitors.
Alvin died of typhoid fever on December 15, 1893. It is believed he contracted the typhoid in Chicago during a visit, bearing samples of the cave, to the Columbian Exposition the previous summer.