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12 Bizarre Rooms at Wind Cave National Park

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In 1903, Wind Cave—near Hot Springs, South Dakota—was the first cave to be designated a National Park. It’s currently the sixth-longest cave in the world, with more than 140 miles of explored passageways. But with several additional miles being discovered every year, it might not be long before Wind Cave surpasses Optymistychna Cave in the Ukraine (146.6 miles) and Sistema Ox Bel Ha in Mexico (159.8 miles) to reach the top four.

Due to its sheer size, there are a vast number of “rooms” in the cave, many with bizarre names: Andy’s Ice Box, Arm Pit, Bachelors Quarters, and the Bagel Ballroom, just to name a few. There’s a method to the madness, sort of: If you find a new room, you get to name it—and nearly anything goes. Here are the stories behind a few of the most interesting ones:


Discovered on December 15, 1979, by Andy Flurkey, Norm Pace, and John Scheltens, Andy’s Ice Box is full of aragonite frostwork—delicate, needle-like growths of calcite that resemble frost creeping across a window. The room discovered by these three explorers is packed with the stuff, making it resemble a frosty freezer.


If this sounds like a Lil’ Jon lyric to you, you’re absolutely correct. When Jason Walz, Jessie Mann, and Chris Dale found a chasm 30 feet deep, 20 feet wide, and 25 feet long, Lil’ Jon’s exclamations of “What! Yeah!” were the first words that came to mind.


Up until 1996, the place where What the Hell Lake is now had been completely dry. When Stan Allison discovered that the dry passage had suddenly become water-filled, he exclaimed, “What the hell?” The appearance of the lake prevented cavers from exploring significant sections of the passage until the water receded in 2004.


The thin layer of dust and dirt that covers everything in this room resulted in this unflattering nickname.


When cavers found these two large rooms in 1987, they took a break to eat lunch. “To our surprise, everyone on the trip had brought sandwiches for lunch made on bagels (these are tough pieces of bread well suited to the harshness of being carried all day in a caving pack),” Jim Pisarowicz wrote in the official report. “The new rooms were thus named the Bagel Ballroom.” A hole in the floor that led to another room was dubbed “Bagel Hole,” and a large, connected gallery became “Bagel Bowl.”


Dave Schnute was surveying with famous cavers Herb and Jan Conn when they came across a room with a bunch of additional passageways and nooks to explore. Schnute declared that it was "more fun than a mosquito in a nudist colony."


This small crawl space was named after explorer Randy Brown squeezed his way through—and it was such a tight fit, it peeled his pants and underwear down.


This area of the cave contains a red, sandy clay that was sold to women to wear as rouge in the 1890s. The National Park Service believes this room was named by the McDonald family, the family that first started developing the cave for tourism in 1890.


This walking passage was named on November 11, 2000—right in the middle of the Al Gore/George W. Bush election controversy.


In 1989, Rachel Cox, a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) student involved in a mock search-and-rescue mission, actually got lost in Wind Cave. The park received a call from a psychic who said Cox would be found in a room with “Duncan” in the name. When Cox was found, 37 hours after she went missing, she was located in a room that hadn’t been named. To fulfill the psychic’s prediction, they dubbed it Duncan Room.


In 1985, NOLS student Geoff Williams was the first brave soul to lead the expedition into a small, tight spot. They named the area after his mother's womb. Additionally, they named the tight crawl that led to the spot "Mrs. Williams Birth Canal." We're sure Mrs. Williams was flattered.


On October 31, 2000, a group of cavers took an ABC World News Tonight crew on a surveying expedition. During this trip, the crew happened to discover a series of rooms where someone had left an old newspaper many years before. The newspaper was dated October 31, 1897—and the fact that a newspaper from a Halloween over a century prior was found on Halloween seemed pretty spooky.

Also worth mentioning: The Backstreet Boys, Vanilla Ice, NSYNC, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Phish, Darkwing Duck, the pop group Dream, Chris Farley, John Wayne, Pizza Hut, Miller beer, Pee-wee Herman, Yahoo!, and even the Lycos search engine have spots named after them within the cave.

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Courtesy of Sotheby's
Found: A Rare Map of Australia, Created During the 17th Century
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Courtesy of Sotheby's

More than 40 years before Captain James Cook landed on Australia’s eastern coast in 1770, renowned Dutch cartographer Joan Blaeu created an early map of the Land Down Under. Using geographical information gleaned from Dutch navigator Abel Tasman in the 1640s, it was the first map to include the island state of Tasmania and name New Zealand, and the only one to call Australia “Nova Hollandia.”

Very few copies—if any—of the 1659 map, titled Archipelagus Orientalis (Eastern Archipelago), were thought to have survived. But in 2010, a printing was discovered in a Swedish attic. After being restored, the artifact is newly on display at the National Library of Australia, in the capital city of Canberra, according to

The seller’s identity has been kept under wraps, but it’s thought that the map belonged to an antiquarian bookseller who closed his or her business in the 1950s. For decades, the map sat amidst other papers and books until it was unearthed in 2010 and put up for auction.

The National Library acquired the 17th century wall map in 2013 for approximately $460,000. After a lengthy restoration process, it recently went on display in its Treasures Gallery, where it will hang until mid-2018.

As for other surviving copies of the map: a second version was discovered in a private Italian home and announced in May 2017, according to Australian Geographic. It ended up selling for more than $320,000.


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What's the Difference Between a Lake and a Pond?
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Around 71 percent of the Earth's surface is covered in water, which is why geographers have coined so many names to describe the forms it takes. But what’s the real difference between, say, a lake and a pond, a spring and an oasis, or a creek and an arroyo?

Vox gets granular with geography in the video below, explaining the subtle distinctions between everything from a bay (a part of an ocean, surrounded by water on three sides) to a barachois (a coastal lagoon, separated from the ocean by a sand bar). The five-minute explainer also provides maps and real-life examples, and describes how certain bodies of water got their names. (For example, the word geyser stems from geysa, meaning "to gush.")

Guess what? A geyser is also a type of spring. Learn more water-based trivia—and impress your nature-loving friends the next time you go camping—by watching the video below.


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