Fossilized limestone from Phenix Marble used in new construction

Fossilized limestone from Phenix Marble used in new construction

Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2019, by Hubert Heck

Phenix Marble Company mines block from the same Fossilized limestone deposit that also houses Fantastic Caverns. Stone from Phenix Marble Quarry to be used in grounds improvement projects at Fantastic Caverns.

Construction is underway at Fantastic Caverns, America’s Ride-Thru Cave. Work is being done to improve on-site groundwater infiltration, upgrade parking, install an access drive, construct an entry gate and build a welcome pavilion. Stone for the pavilion and entry gate will be sourced from Phenix Quarry, located about 25 minutes away from the cave. At the quarry, Phenix Marble Company mines block from the same limestone deposit that also houses Fantastic Caverns.

Current mining ledge at Phenix Quarry

Fossilized limestone from Phenix Marble Company

In 1884 a large deposit of high-grade limestone was discovered in northern Greene County, Missouri, located a few miles south of Walnut Grove, and just a little over 15 miles northwest of Fantastic Caverns. Limestone is abundant beneath the rolling hills of the Ozarks, and the construction of a new railway line in the early 1880s uncovered the high-density limestone. In 1888, Phenix Stone and Lime Company was established, just a year after the installation of electric lights at Fantastic Caverns. By the early 1900s, as business boomed, the company adopted its current name, Phenix Marble Company.

Sign put up by Dave Richter when he owned the property

Investors saw a lot of opportunity in the limestone, and prior to the Great Depression, Phenix Marble Company built the company town of Phenix, Missouri, housed and employed hundreds of people, and was one of the largest producers of cut stone and marble west of the Mississippi River. The company was known for its “Napolean Gray” marble and split building stone. Phenix Marble Company continues to mine limestone from the same quarry today. Safety and efficiency at the quarry improved with technology; what took a team of 200 plus people is now accomplished by four. Though the quarry stays active, the company town of Phenix, Missouri is now a distant memory.

Parsonage the only remaining structure from the town of Phenix

Fantastic Caverns plans to utilize the local limestone for the walls of the welcome pavilion and entry gate. It is a fitting façade, considering the stone is cut from the same layer of limestone Fantastic Caverns was hollowed out from. Sourcing local limestone from Phenix Marble Company for the pavilion and entry gate means the story of cave creation in the Ozarks starts to unfold as soon as guests pull onto the grounds. Not only is the stone sourced from the same limestone deposit, but the limestone itself is one of the necessary ingredients needed to create a cave.

Pavilion going up at Fantastic Caverns

The list of ingredients for creating a cave is short. You need uneven terrain, plenty of soluble rock, like limestone, and plenty of rain or melting snow to supply the groundwater. Water infiltrating into the ground slowly washes away bits of limestone. As limestone erodes, cave passages are created. A blend of stone, water and time, created the passages and the formations visitors see within Fantastic Caverns today.

The abundance of limestone in the Ozarks ensures caves will continue to develop beneath these hills, and that Phenix Marble Company will be producing cut stone and marble for years to come. 

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Ozarks Cave Explorer's Club
Travel and tourism are inextricably part of the fabric of the Ozarks’ culture and economy. And caves have been a part of the tourism industry in the Ozarks for a very long time. Find a list of caves in Missouri and Arkansas participating in the Missouri Caves Association’s Ozarks Cave Explorer Passport Program.
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Fantastic Caverns is pet friendly. Fantastic Caverns was discovered by an Ozarks farmer, or more precisely, by his dog. While tracking an animal, the famer's bloodhound disappeared into a small hole at the base of a bluff.
Build Your Own Terrarium and Monitor Water Quality
Stormwater run-off can easily pick up pollutants and cause erosion. Plants and trees help filter stormwater run-off and prevent erosion. The water flowing through the lower levels of Fantastic Caverns, began as stormwater on the surface. Create your own terrariums and monitor water quality.
Create Your Own Cave Confections
Create your own cave treats following these simple recipes. Caves provide habitats for unique species. Make your own edible cave habitats in the form of hollow meringue cookies or dessert rolls.
Cave and Karst Picture Finds
Find cave animals in these photos. The karst terrain of the Ozarks provides habitat for unique life. There is a very delicate ecosystem beneath our feet.
Create Your Own Aquifer in a Cup
Create your own miniature aquifer in a cup. The limestone present in the Ozarks has cracks and voids that allow water to permeate and pass through it. Water flowing through the limestone passages of Fantastic Caverns, began as rainwater.
Create Your Own Crystals
You can easily grow your own crystals using sugar, salt or alum. Many crystals are minerals, and occur naturally. Minerals are the building blocks of rocks, like the limestone of Fantastic Caverns.
Cave and Karst Word Searches
Find words related to caves and cave life in these fun Cave and Karst Word Searches. Missouri is known as the Cave State, boasting more than 7,500 caves and counting.
Make Your Own Limestone Fossil Sugar Cookies
You can find fossilized remains of ancient creatures within the limestone of Fantastic Caverns. Create your own limestone-inspired fossils in the form of sugar cookies.
Create Your Own Cave in a Cup
Create your own cave. As water flows beneath the Earth's surface it dissolves and erodes the rock, forming the cavities that become caves.
Health and Safety at Fantastic Caverns
The health and safety of our guests are top of mind as we continue to offer our memorable ride through cave experiences. We have increased the frequency of our everyday health and safety protocols and procedures, and we are taking precautions to keep everyone safe and healthy.
The underground fleet
Climb aboard the underground fleet at Fantastic Caverns and explore the world beneath your feet. Touring Fantastic Caverns by Jeep drawn trams helps preserve the cave. America's Ride Thru Cave may not be inhabited by humans but the cave system does have a thriving ecology of small critters that call it home.
Phone: 417-833-2010
Fax: (417) 833-2042
Fantastic Caverns
4872 N Farm Rd 125
Springfield, MO 65803
Trip Adviser certificate of excellence for Fantastic Caverns