Schermerhorn Park and Cave

Schermerhorn Park provides a rare opportunity to see and climb over the oldest rocks found at the surface in Kansas. These limestones were formed from deposits in a shallow sea that covered the area during the Mississippian subperiod about 345 million years ago. In Kansas, they are only visible in the far southeastern Ozark Plateau region, which is part of the larger Ozark area that crosses just into Cherokee County from Missouri and Oklahoma.

A short but precipitous pathway on the north side of the road along Shoal Creek leads uphill through limestone outcrops and oak-hickory forest. The rock is classified as Keokuk Limestone of the Osagian Stage. Fossils of animals that lived in the Mississippian sea, including crinoids, brachiopods, and bivalves, are easily seen, without an uphill climb, in rocks across the road from the creek.

Shoal Creek, one of the major tributaries to the Spring River, is a spring-fed stream that played a major role in shaping the surrounding hills and steep bluffs characteristic of the Ozarks. Its water is shallow and accessible.

Schermerhorn Cave within the park boundaries is one of numerous Mississippian limestone caves in the region. It can be reached by way of a fairly level walkway from the park's Nature Center. The spring issuing from the cave is home to the Long-tailed Salamander, Cave Salamander, and Grotto Salamander. When conditions are cool and damp, they forage for food outside the cave. Other animals in the cave include Southern Leopard Frogs and a couple of bat species.

The large mouth of the cave is open to the public, but access is not allowed beyond where the cave narrows. Past the mouth, the 2,566-foot, two-foot-high passageway is mainly a low streambed.

About a mile south of Galena, Schermerhorn Park is on the east side of Kansas Highway 26.