Nicollet Island Tunnels & Satans Cave

Nicollet Island was originally the site of an Indian maple sugar camp, and there’s still a street named Maple Place reflecting this. The Islands woods were “so dense with timber and undergrowth, that it was impossible to penetrate it,” according to one early visitor, who also reported of thousands of passenger pigeons. Half a mile long and shaped like a battleship, the islands fifty acres were purchased in 1848 by Franklin Steele, the founder of St. Anthony.

John Orth, Hennepin County’s pioneer brewer and one of the founders of Grain Belt Beer, dug the first caves in the sandstone under Nicollet Island beginning in 1850 for use as beer storage cellars. By the 1880′s Orth had built an icehouse to replace the cave; the cave was used for mushroom growing as late as the 1920′s. Later under the guise of Satan’s Cave, it became a well-known rendezvous for urban explorers

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Members: ToXiC & Myth
Photos by: ToXiC w/ Craptastic Disposable
Written by: ToXiC
December, 2007 Trip #1

Most of our trips are random scout trips after bar close. “Hey I was by this area today and I’ve heard there was something here or I saw something promising”. Mostly along those lines are we bound when it comes to random moment exploring.

Anyway after I got off of work from the bar me and Myth decided to bike over to Nicollet Island and search the various sized and shaped manhole covers for a probable entrance into the “Infamous Satans Cave” as Action Squad had called it.

After searching about 6 manhole covers and going down and back up them. I decided to go off from memory about a particular picture I had seen which gave a vague idea to the entrance. After searching through the snow we came across a couple more manhole covers we lifted one up and were about to give up when me and myth noticed that the manhole rungs seemed alot older than the rest, more weathered, and at the glorious bottom noticed allot of foot traffic going down the old Nicollet Island Water Main.

Ah! Scout missions are the best. You never know what you’re going to find. So we proceeded down the old rungs, a couple of them were actually well loose and slippery. Down we went too excited to care that in about 30 minutes the sun would be up and people would be getting ready for church or whatever people do on Sundays these days.

We got to the bottom. It was small, cramped and muddy up the ass. Obviously this wasn’t some modern carved out hole. It was smaller and less maintained than the modern underground passages. It was old brick, a half foot full of muck, rusty disused pipes, old side corridors and unused water hoses.

Along we went so excited, checking every corridor we could find. Not necessarily looking for Satans Cave but anything and everything that was of interest in Urbex. I was just enjoying myself for a good 30 minutes with this old brick. I was really just enjoying myself. I didn’t have a care in the world. It wasn’t until after awhile of tunnel walking that my back finally got soar and I realized that this could take awhile. Oh well I enjoyed the pain like anyone else.

A corridor here, a side passage there, a manhole above me. After about 45 minutes of walking everywhere we came to a small break in the brick archways of the tunnel. I got on my knees. It wasnt a large hole, it seemed more like someone had used a mallet and just broken through it, I popped my head inside and brought my head light up and looked around. A large sandstone cave. I then knew we had found the “Infamous Satans Cave”.

We crawled through the small hole and jumped down into the nice cold dry soft St. Peter Sandstone. It was very pleasant. Me and Myth walked down the corridor to what we thought might be the main cavern. It was. I looked around.

I yelled!

“Beer cans, bottles, tea lights, graffiti. What the fuck! What the fuck is so god damn infamous about an underground landfill?!?!”…

I calmed down from my 10 second rage and thought to myself about my first couple of experiences at Lilydale. While comparing this to lilydale this didn’t really surprise me after all. I accepted that fact and made the best of it. We ended up going back to the Water Main System since I had had alot more fun there. We found more of the same and a couple smaller caves. Took the long way out and exited through a bums home.

I need to go back one of these days and just do a photo shoot the various nooks and crannies we found because I think they looked awesome.

I later went to Walgreens to develop the photos from the 2 disposables I had brought. For some reason the 2nd Camera which held all of the cave photos came out blank. WTF?!

2nd Trip Photos of the cave (2007).

Sources:
1) Subterranean Twin Cities

Members: Neur@l, ToXiC, Brute, and Eca
Photos by: ToXiC w/ Sony Cybershot DSC-H9 8.1
Written by: Neur@l
July, 2009 Trip #1
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8 Comments

  1. January 31, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I’ve been to glenwood several times. Im currently overhauling the site. This is version #2 of TCUR. Only have about 25% of the stuff up.

    Thanks for the compliment :)

  2. February 1, 2010 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    Very Cool! Looking forward to more!

  3. April 23, 2010 at 5:03 am | Permalink

    Great works guys! I’m loving the site. Can’t wait for more. have you managed to get into any of the other mills along the Hiawatha Corridor? How about behind Glenwood Inglewood over on the northside?

  4. May 2, 2010 at 4:37 am | Permalink

    great post as usual!

  5. Modbox
    July 13, 2010 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    shits good keep it up

  6. jessical
    September 13, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    used to amateur spelunk here and in the caves surrounding the old white building back up the hill…wish i would have taken my camera to stairway before all the drama happened. be safe!

  7. Curious
    February 3, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    Have a buddy that lives on Nicollet Island, going out to visit soon, wondering if you could give me an idea of the location manhole cover entrance?

  8. Anonymous John Doe
    April 10, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    If anyone here could by chance contact my email address so we could talk privately, that would be excellent. I have some questions and concerns I would like to discuss.

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