Doubters Say Outlaw Jesse James Never Was in Meramec Caverns
One of the highlights of my childhood was when my parents took me through Missouri's Meramec Caverns. I especially loved the part where you could see what remained of Jesse James hideout. Now, based on research I've done, I'm not sure he ever really was in those caves.
I will attempt to give you both side of this story so you can make up your own mind. First, if you've never been through Meramec Caverns, do it someday. It's amazing. Part of that tour like this one shared includes Jesse James hideout.
If you check out the Meramec Caverns website, you'll see this snippet regarding exploration that allegedly uncovered the Jesse James traces in the cave after a drought in the summer of 1941:
Once past the wall, Les happened upon yet another large area of branching networks... even more cave! It was here, too, Les found the artifacts traceable to the infamous Jesse James and the cave was dubbed 'Jesse James Hideout'.
Not everyone agrees with the Jesse James connection. Sleuth Sayers calls into question the "Jesse James" in this story as a man named Frank Dalton who claimed he was Jesse James which was disproven in court including a statement from Jesse James real daughter-in-law.
In defense of Meramec Cavern's Jesse James claim, they do have on display a loot box from the Gads Hill Train Robbery. As a kid, I recall some law enforcement documents about that being legit. We do know that Jesse James and the rest of the James-Younger Gang were responsible.
What do you think? I must say that I believe that Jesse and his gang were in what is now Meramec Caverns at some point although perhaps not in the way you see advertised about the cave system. That's just my opinion based on my research. It doesn't make Meramec and less appealing as a stop at some point in your life if you get the chance. It is an amazing sight to see.