Wind Cave Songs

Mr. Trandem’s students of Custer Elementary School wrote two songs with songwriter Mike Linderman, inspired by Wind Cave National Park.

“The Best of Both Worlds”
Words and music by Mike Linderman
with Mr. Trandem’s 4th Grade Class
©2016 National Park Service

      Wind Cave Song Custer

Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam
And the deer and the antelope play

In the Black Hills of South Dakota where the East meets the West
A remnant of the prairie still remains
Where herds of elk and antelope, deer and buffalo
Live much as they once did on the plains

With air so clear and clean that in the inky dark of night
The heavens all come shimmering to life
The same endless unknown that all who came before
Felt beneath the open prairie sky

The best of both worlds above ground and below
Wide open space and room to roam
A maze of passages beneath the prairie floor
An ancient frontier yet to explore
Like stepping back in time to the way it used to be
A living history for everyone to see
Right here in our back yard
Wind Cave National Park

A cold wind blows from a hole in the stone
That leads to a world underground
A place that began three hundred million years ago
Whose end has yet to be found

Formations strange and beautiful that nature rarely made
Perhaps the purest water found on earth
New discoveries still waiting to unfold
A wealth of irreplaceable worth


The park is like a puzzle we’re still trying to complete
And put the missing pieces back together
Doing our best to preserve and protect
So the next hundred years are even better


Wind Cave National Park
Mr. Trandem’s 4th Grade Class

Wind Cave was known to the local Native American tribes for centuries. In 1881 Jesse and Tom Bingham found the opening. The story goes that the wind was blowing so hard out of the hole that it knocked Tom’s hat off his head. They went to get some friends and when they returned, the air was sucking into the cave. Today we know that the flow of air in and out of the cave is controlled by the atmospheric pressure differences.

Wind Cave National Park became the nation’s 8th national park on July 3, 1903. It was declared a national park by Theodore Roosevelt. It was the first park established to protect a cave. When the park was founded, there were no bison there at all. That changed in 1912 when a wildlife preserve was located near the boundary of the park. The American Bison Society began sending bison the next year. In 1935, the preserve became an official part of the park. Today, there are all kinds of wildlife that call Wind Cave home. The newest residents are the black-footed ferrets. They were reintroduced to the park in 2007.

As beautiful as the park is above ground, it’s what is below the surface that really sets Wind Cave apart. Wind Cave is one of the longest and most complex caves in the world. It has over 90% of the boxwork formation found anywhere on the planet. The exact length of the cave is not known because they keep discovering more and more of it. Spelunkers have found a lake deep in the cave that may contain the purest water ever discovered on earth. Each chamber holds different wonders and formations that set it apart from all other caves. One of our favorite parts of the tour was when the ranger shut all the lights off and we got to experience complete darkness. So dark that our eyes would never adjust no matter how long we tried.

Wind Cave is truly the best of both worlds. The untamed beauty both above ground and below was something that we will not soon forget. We appreciate the steps that the park service employees take to preserve the park for generations to come. Hopefully the next hundred years will bring more exploration and new discoveries that everyone will be able to enjoy. ​

Mrs. Blacksmith’s, Mrs. Whites’s and Mrs. Ferguson’s 4th Grade students of Rockyford School wrote their song with songwriter Sequoia Crosswhite, inspired by Wind Cave National Park.

“The Story of Our Creation”
Words and music by Sequoia Crosswhite
with Mrs. Blacksmith’s, Mrs. White’s and Mrs. Ferguson’s 4th Grade Classes
©2016 National Park Service

      Wind Cave Song Rockyford

The story of our creation, the beginning of the Oglala Nation
The story of our creation, the beginning of the Oglala Nation
The story of our creation, the beginning of the Oglala Nation
The story of our creation, the beginning of the Oglala Nation

Oniya Oshoka, where earth breathes inside
The portal to the spirit world, where our ancestors hide

Sungmanitu, tanka lead our ancestors astray
He tricked them to emerge and to disobey

So he transformed them into wild beasts
Now roaming the earth who headed towards the east

We hold beliefs that are known today as tatanka the buffalo
They gave us everything to survive and grow

So now you know, if you ever want to go
Where you can feel Mother Earth’s breath flow

The story of our creation, the beginning of the Oglala Nation
The story of our creation, the beginning of the Oglala Nation
The story of our creation, the beginning of the Oglala Nation
The story of our creation, the beginning of the Oglala Nation

Wind Cave National Park
Mrs. Blacksmith’s, Mrs. White’s and Mrs. Ferguson’s 4th Grade Classes

Wind Cave National Park is located in Custer, SD in the heart of the beautiful Black Hills. It is the origin of the Lakota creation story and is sacred to the Lakota people. Our Lakota instructor, Melvin Young Bear, taught us that the creation story might vary depending on the community where you live. It is said that when the wind is blowing inside of Wind Cave, it is Unci Maka (Mother Earth) breathing.

When we arrived at Wind Cave, we didn’t really know what to expect. We were both excited and nervous about meeting our new friends from Custer, and about going into the cave itself. As we entered the cave, Ranger Ted used a ribbon to show us how fast the wind was blowing inside of the cave. He said that the wind can blow anywhere from 0-70mph!

On our tour through the cave, we noticed how narrow and windy the path could be in many places. In fact, new tunnels are still being found today! There was a vast amount of boxwork on the walls and ceilings of the cave. We thought it looked like a honeycomb and that if you looked closely, you could see faces of our ancestors in them. The boxwork was very fragile and could crumble easily if it is touched, which is one of the reasons why the National Park Service wanted it protected.

As we continued on our journey through the cave, we were able to see popcorn crystals that resembled frost, and a fossil of a seashell. The entire cave itself was once underwater in a hot spring, which is why there are not a lot of fossils inside the cave. It was a rare treat to see the seashell fossil.

Once we were deep in the cave, Ranger Ted had us turn off all of the lights to experience complete darkness. We couldn’t even see our hands in front of our faces! As we all sat quiet, we could only hear the soft blowing of the wind, Unci Maka breathing!

With our 90 steps completed inside the cave, we then began the outside tour. The outside of the cave was as beautiful as the inside. We began at the original entrance to the cave where our creation story originated. We were able to actually feel the wind blow out of the entrance with our hands! As we hiked up around the beautiful hills, we were able to see a deer, some buffalo grazing, a huge wolf spider on a pinecone, a squirrel, and a wild turkey. Ranger Ted told us that the black-footed ferret was introduced to the park in 2007. We had hoped to see one, but unfortunately we didn’t.

Although the field trips came to an end in the fall, we kept in touch with our Custer buddies by writing letters to each other. We were also able to work with a songwriter to create a song about our trip to Wind Cave. It was an experience we will never forget. We truly appreciate being a part of such a wonderful learning experience and are grateful to the National Park Service for all that they do. We hope that our children and grandchildren will be able to experience the beauty of Wind Cave as we did. We wonder what new discoveries will be made in the next hundred years!

Comments are closed.