Cherney Maribel Caves County Park

 © Photographed July 9, 2016
Text and Design created by the Wisconsin Speleological Society.
Sign funded by the Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership, Inc.
Maribel, Manitowoc County, Wisconsin
44.283814, -87.777096 (entrance to park)
44.285917, -87.772001 (marker location inside park)
44°17'09.3"N 87°46'19.2"W
Google Map

[Left Panel]
Maribel History
The Maribel Caves Hotel, which is located north of the park on private property, was built in 1900 by the Steinbrecker family. It was a 200 acre health spa and resort that included all of this park and most of the surrounding valley.

A hudraulic ram-jet pump and spring house (pictured above) supplied mineral spring water to guests of the hotel. The water coming out of the spring at the base of the bluff was a main attraction of the hotel for both drinking and bathing. The hotel offered the waters as a means to cleanse the body. Later analysis of the water showed it was high in magnesium, which is the main ingredient found in "Milk of Magnesia" -- a present day laxative. This same spring can be seen today at the north end of the park (pictured below). The water was also bottled by the Steinbrecker's own Maribel Mineral Springs Company in the bottling plant located on the bluff above the spring.

The town of Maribel became a main stop on the railroad because of the hotel. Many people would come up from Chicago to enjoy the resort. The hotel closed in 1918. After 1933 it was mainly used as a bar until 1985, when the interior of the hotel building was gutted by fire.
[Center Top]
Maribel's Bluff, Caves and Springs
 This wonderful park located along the West Twin River features a 50-foot limestone bluff. The bluff is an outcropping of limestone bedrock called Niagara Dolomite, a sedimentary rock that was deposited in a tropical ocean some 425 million years ago. The Niagara Dolomite in this park is part of the Niagara Escarpment, an arc of bluffs stretching from Eastern Wisconsin across Lake Michigan and Lake Huron through Ontario, Canada, Niagara Falls, ending in upstate New York.

Weathering and erosive forces that initially carved this bluff still occur today. The great glacial ice sheets are gone, but ice and frost action, running water, and wind continue to leave their marks. Less obvious, but more important in terms of groundwater flow and quality, is the chemical weathering process. In this process, the softer limestone is slowly dissolved away by groundwater as it trickles through the cracks and cavities in the bedrock springs along the bluffs. These features, known as karst, are common in the swiss [sic] cheese like bedrock [sic] of this area.

Maribel Caves County Park is unique in part because of the many excellent examples of caves and karst features that can be found throughout the park.

Caves and springs are fragile environments. Enjoy them, and please tread lightly.
[Center Bottom]
 State Natural Area
A portion of this park was designated a State Natural Area by the Department of Natural Resources in 1967 in recognition of the site's unique geology and unusual plants and animals. The shaded mossy cliffs contain walking fern, polypody fern, and the rare climbing fumatory vine. Several very tiny endangered land snails are found here as well.

At the cliff base and throughout the floodplain are many large white cedar trees. The river bottom forest harbors many nesting birds usually found further north, including winter wren, solitary vireo, blackburnian warbler, and yellow-bellied flycatcher.
[Right Panel]
Historical Cave Attraction
The location pointed to on the map above is a cave called Tartarus. It was a favorite picture spot, as shown in the 1905 picture above. The picture below shows how it looked in 2005.

People have been enjoying the unique features of this area for over 100 years. In the 1890's, there were newspaper accounts of people traveling her to "take in the grandeur of the cave scenery and its surroundings."

Text and Design created by the Wisconsin Speleological Society.
Some pictures courtesy of the Manitowoc County Historical Society.
Sign funded by the Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership, Inc.

The marker is located at Cherney Maribel Caves County Park, at the trailhead leading to "The Caves", and is accessible from northbound North Packer Drive / County Highway R, north of its intersection with West Main Street / Wisconsin Highway 147, at or near 15111 North Packer Drive, Maribel, Wisconsin 54227.

NOTE: Follow the park road to where it dead-ends at the trailhead; it's impossible to miss the marker.

Cherney Maribel Caves County Park 

Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter (July 21, 2016: Making Manitowoc: Cherney Maribel Caves

Wikipedia: Cherney Maribel Caves County Park

 The pathway leading to the caves . . .

 The marker (not visible in this photo) is to the left of this sign.

 Beautiful scenery inside the park.

 The entrance to the park.

 Follow the signs to Cherney Maribel Caves County Park.

The marker is located at Cherney Maribel Caves County Park
in Maribel Wisconsin.

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