Baker's City Bites: 11-10-21- Cave Edition


It has been another relatively quiet week of news coming out of St. Louis CITY SC so this might actually be bite sized for once. On the field, our Academy was in action both days this past weekend with the U-17s traveling to Houston, and the U-16s played a friendly against fellow local club St. Louis Maritsa FC. The MLS season has also wrapped after a fateful Decision Day this past Sunday. We now officially have one full regular season of MLS before STL CITY kicks off! One of the more interesting conversations that took place this week both on social media and on the CITY app, were some deep dives on a massive cave system that still exists to this day, below our entire city and region. This topic has been discussed on FX Council meetings and since it was highlighted in the app, it seems appropriate to look at what this is all about and why we as CITY fans should take note.

First though, the Academy match on Saturday featured our U-17s heading down south to Houston to face the Dynamo Academy. While the Dynamo's MLS club is sharing the cellar of the league with fellow Texas teams Austin and FC Dallas, their academy proved a good challenge for our U-17s. Our boys came away with a point off the back of a fantastic early goal from Anthony Faupel, assisted by Miguel Perez, and a late first half goal off a heads up play to disrupt their defense by Nathan Ferguson. 

This second goal was also exciting to have play out, as CITY had allowed a tying goal just minutes before. Recovering and keeping high intensity after a goal allowed is a trait this club continues to display. Full match day recap from the club can be found here.

Our U-16 squad was in action at Creve Coeur Soccer Complex on Sunday against St. Louis Maritsa FC in an unannounced friendly. Maritsa is currently working their way through qualifying in the 2022 version of the historic US Open Cup. They will play next against Lynchburg FC of Virginia, in VA, the weekend of November 20/21. This was a good test for both squads in a high scoring, intense, and at times chirpy, matchup. For some play by play, I would recommend checking out the Twitter thread by my friend Stuart Hultgren, who attended the matchup here.

Twice this past week, the CITY app featured stories on their feed regarding caves. Missouri is known as the Cave State, with over 6,400 caves, but what remains somewhat of an unknown to a good number of residents in and around the City, is that the City of St. Louis itself used to be home to an untold amount of underground cave systems. There have been explorations and excursions to attempt to explore and map these cave systems for over a hundred years, but due to highway construction and other urban development, a huge amount of these cave systems has been filled in and sealed off. A Missouri Speleological Survey has said that there are 37 caves that remain in the city. A magnificent, but out of print book called Lost Caves of St. Louis, mapped 21 cavern entrance locations throughout various city neighborhoods.

Some of the most famous caverns include the Cherokee Cave, Minnehaha Cave, Lemp Cave, George Schneider Cave, and English Cave. As this article details, 24 of the city's caves have been associated with brewing, most notably the Lemp Brewery. For a city with such a rich history of brewing, the relationship between breweries and the city's cave systems should never be understated. There are plenty of other great articles about our city's caverns including this on the English Cave, these letters from the Missouri History Museum from the 1940s and even this article theorizing that our cave systems were part of the Underground Railroad, assisting slaves in their path to freedom.

While these are magnificent stories and details that are a foundational part of the history of St. Louis and run quite literally right below our feet, the question is, other than the deep connection to the city itself, why did our soccer club feature caves so heavily in their app last week? The 2nd image they posted is the answer. During construction of the stadium, less than a year ago, they discovered a natural spring directly below the stadium. Like other caves throughout the area that provided access to natural springs and water sources, at one point during construction the project superintendent said water was flowing at about 86 gallons per minute from below ground. The connection that CITY has somewhat coincidentally made to the rest of the city via underground cave systems is one of the most unique things that exist in the story of our stadium site. More specifically, the fact that directly in front of that north end supporter's section, somewhere below what will be the left side of the penalty box, was that huge cave opening and entrance to the spring during construction. While obviously sealed and closed now, its existence will always remain one of the most fascinating DYKs that our fans will be able to retell for years to come.

By Matt Baker