Maquoketa’s Dance Hall Cave Once Hosted Dances, and Native American Councils

MAQUOKETA, Iowa- The newly reopened Maquoketa Caves State Park, has some of Iowa State Park’s most interesting geology, and history.

“The park was actually dedicated in 1933, that’s when it became a state park,” said Park Ranger Scottt Dykstra. “It started many years before that, by women’s group in Maquoketa.

The park was owned privately for many years. It has a history with it’s Dance Hall Cave.

“They had dances out there eventually on those hot summer days they took it into the nice mud flat of Dancehall Cave,” said Dykstra. “They had there banjos, guitars whatever music they played.”

Dykstra said there is evidence that Indian Tribal Councils may also have met in the big cave.

“The caves were formed through solutional process, rain came down the earth the rain-soaked through the dirt, came in contact with the lime stone changed the water into carbonic acid,” said Dykstra. “The acid so he started eating away cracks in the lime stone.”

The park is popular, drawing visitors from all 50 states and 99 counties in Iowa.

“In the summertime a thousand to 1500 people are here during the week,” said Dykstra. “During the week, 500 people a day if not more, and parking here is just amazing on weekends.”