Formed millions of years ago by an underground river cutting through solid limestone rock, the Olentangy Indian Caverns today offer an exciting excursion into ancient Indian lore with a maze of beautiful winding passages and spacious underground rooms. There is evidence that the Wyandotte Indians used these caverns as a haven from the weather and from their enemies, the Delaware Indians. One of the large rooms contains "Council Rock", used by the Wyandotte's.
The first white man believed to have entered the caverns was J. M. Adams, a member of a westbound wagon train that camped nearby in 1821. During the night one of his oxen broke loose and wandered off. In the morning the ox was found dead at the bottom of the entrance to the ancient Indian cavern. After exploring the entrance, Adams carved his name and date on the wall.
Various artifacts found in the caverns indicate that the Indian Council Room was used by Wyandottes for making arrows and other stone tools until as late as 1810. Hundreds of these items were found when the caverns were opened and some are on display in the Museum. Leatherlips, the chief of the Wyandottes, was killed at the entrance to the caverns by his own people, according to the book This is Ohio by Grace Goulder.
This remarkable geological wonder is now accessible to almost everyone from the historic Cave House atop the entrance. Concrete stairways descend to a maze of natural passages and rooms occupying the only accessible level of the cave. This level contains Indian Lover's Bench and The Crystal Room. Fat Man's Misery is a quaint passage leading to Cathedral Hall and The Bell Tower room 105 feet below the earth's surface. Beyond are passages and rooms still unexplored.
A second level where an underground river is flowing to the Olentangy River, a half mile east, has been partially explored but not opened to the public. It is known that the river has formed a lake but its size has not been determined. Many miles of passages have never been explored.
During the Historic Indian period of the 18th century Ohio was part of the Northwest territory, and until about 1795 was considered to be Indian Country. The Wyandotte were the most recent Indians to use the Caves.