Underground tourism in the Capital City

Pure Nebraska
Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 5:54 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 2, 2022 at 5:57 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Nebraskans are being encouraged to experience the destination known as Robber’s Cave in Lincoln. It’s a 2022 Nebraska Tourism Passport stop this year.

We recently visited with Joel Green, who provides tours at the cave. “Robber’s Cave is a 5,600-foot cave just south of downtown Lincoln,” Green said. “I’ve given tours of it every day for the past 6 years. It’s become one of Lincoln’s top tourism destinations in the past couple of years. Every inch of the cave is covered with 150 years of activity.”

There is plenty of interesting etchings on the wall, as people made their marks in the cave over the years. “There are band names,” Green said. “There are things like first dates, definitely a lot of hearts, faces and peace signs. The oldest carving in here is from 1875, and it goes all the way up to a couple of years ago.”

Robber’s Cave has one tunnel that is naturally formed. “The rest of it was hacked out by a German immigrant from 1869 to 1873 for Lincoln’s first brewery. He spent four years with a pick axe, a shovel and a wheel barrow, hammering out the cave for lagering caverns. After that, it was used for anything and everything. It became a brothel, a dance hall, and it was a place for college parties. It was a gun range at one time, and there was even an exotic and tropical fish shop here.”

“For many years, the cave was owned by the Scarborough family,” Green said. “It was a place where you could come for boy scout gatherings, picnics, frat parties, and the football team came here in the ‘60s every year. It was sealed up in the 80′s, and a lot of people would break in. It re-opened in 2016 for tours. When people get into the cave, one of the hardest questions to answer right off the bat is, what was this used for? In reality, what wasn’t it used for!”

It turns out there is a 300-page book about Robber’s Cave that’s been authored by Joel Green. “I started it in 2007, and it came out in 2018,” Green said. “It won a Nebraska book award, there’s even a film being made about it. A film crew from Knoxville, Tennessee came up last year in January to shoot a film, all based on the Robber’s Cave book.”

Green is asking more Nebraskans to come and visit the cave. “I would say a majority of visitors are from out of state,” Green said. “It’s on a New York Times best seller list called ‘Atlas Obscura’, which documents the strangest places in the country and the world. Robber’s Cave is a part of that. I would like Nebraskans to come find out why Robber’s Cave is quickly becoming a top tourism destination in Lincoln.”

For information or to book a tour, go to robberscavetours.com.

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