Centuries ago, the Seneca Indians discovered this natural landmark in the Valley of Karoondinha (Penn’s Valley). The famous legend of the Indian maiden, Nita-nee (from whom the famous Penn State Nittany Lion got its name) and her French trapper lover, Malachi Boyer, has been told around campfires for generations. Forbidden to marry because of an Indian custom, they ran away and were captured, and Malachi was thrown into Penn’s Cave to die. Local history also tells of Indians and early explorers using the dry rooms for shelter. In 1885, Penn’s Cave opened as a commercial show cavern, and the Penn’s Cave Hotel was built. In 1976, Penn’s Cave and the Penn’s Cave House were placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Our corporate offices are housed in the historic Penn’s Cave House, formally a 30-room hotel built in 1885. The original structure was shaped in an “L” design. In 1908, brothers Henry Clay Campbell and Robert Perly Campbell, purchased the cavern and farm property from John Herman of Pleasant Gap. Robert, his wife, Edith, and their children lived in the hotel, where they hosted overnight guests until 1919. From 1920 to 1929, only meals were served to cavern guests, while the building continued to be used as the ticket center and gift shop.
In 1938, the north wing was removed, with the current three- story (plus attic), rectangular-shaped building remaining. A more contemporary single-story addition was later constructed in the 1960s. In 1980, it became strictly a private residence after the current Visitors Center was built. Today, the Penn’s Cave House is also used for private meetings and special events.