Friday, September 7, 2012

From a Hole in the Ground

Doesn't it seem like those “hole in the wall” type places are always the best? Such as that “hole in a wall” diner that sells the best burgers in the county. Well what about a “hole in the ground”? I know of a hole in the ground that has become my favorite place on Earth.

It just so happens that Silver Dollar City got its start as a literal hole in the ground- a cave attraction. The cave, Marvel Cave, was discovered in the 1500s by the Osage Indians. In the 1880s adventure seekers began exploring the cave by lowering themselves down the 200 feet, by rope, into the main chamber. In the early 1900s regular cave tours began. By the 1920s Marvel Cave was a well-established attraction.

The Herschend family visited the cave in 1946 and fell in love with it. Then in 1950 they took over the management and tours of the cave. In 1954 a traveling salesman's story planted the idea in Hugo Herschend's mind to recreate an 1880s mining town.

In 1960 Silver Dollar City opened. It was named after a promotional idea of giving visitors silver dollars as change. Little money was spent on advertising, but the word of mouth was tremendous.

Each employee at the city is not called an employee, but a citizen and dresses in a 1880s costume. In the first year SDC brought in more then 125,000 visitors; four times more then the cave was drawing.

In the first 50 years Silver Dollar City has won several awards and has had 65 million guests from all over the world.

"From natural wonder to international attraction, it all started with a hole in the ground."