MORE PHOTOS BELOW -
This photo could easily be one of Bluffton’s top 10 mysterious locations. To make matters worse, this doorway no longer exists and you have to be in your seventh, eighth or older decade to recognize this doorway location.
Here’s some background. The black and white photo was taken by Charles Hilty and published in the Feb. 9, 1959, Bluffton News.
It shows an entrance to a cave along the Big Riley Creek near Thurman and Washington streets. It once served as a cavern to a brewery that once existed in the red brick building across from the EMS garage.
That fact that a brewery once existed in Bluffton is probably news to just about everyone reading this story. And, Bluffton Forever will provide the brewery’s story in a later column.
Back to the cave On the late 1960s when Sue Wilch Groves was program director of Marbeck Center, she created a Halloween movie theater in this cave and showed some Halloween movies to college students.
If you can imagine such an event, it was the talk of the town that fall.
At that time, she and her husband, Bob, operated an chicken egg business – not a hatchery – but a distribution point and the building housed eggs raised by local farmers who had chickens.
Eventually the cave was filled in, or partially filled in and the entrance on the creek bank disappeared.
Here’s the details that Bluffton News editor Hilty provided when the photo was published in 1959.
Bluffton Forever shares photos of the creek back taken this fall. There are several hints of a doorway, but nothing conclusive.
Story from 1959 Bluffton News
Not an old dungeon (nor for that matter the gate to Heaven), the old entrance to the Brewery Cave is gradually disappearing. Behind a growth of weeds. This entrance is under the old Murray Upholstering Shop, which was a recent fire victim.
The long, cool cavern behind the sealed door leads under the shop and under Thurman street, finally coming to the surface inside the old brewery building on Washington street.
Once used for storing the product of the industry, which catered to the tastes of the early Germans and Irishmen who founded this community, the Brewery Cave later became the playground of several happy generations of Bluffton boys.
It was a hiding place for pirates, a campout and cookout spot, and it was a fortress in many mock battles, more strongly held and more fiercely sought than any fort on the western fronter in the days of the Indian wars.
In recent years the cave has been sealed from the outside. Only weeds, rocks and old tires guard the underground passage that meant mystery and romance for many boys who grew up in Bluffton.
Original brewery cave doorway
Probable location of the doorway