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Wild Woman Cave

There are many caves in the Arbuckle Mountains in Murray County, OK.  Many are little more that a rocky outcropping.  Others are very large caverns, under the ground, with tiny, obscured openings above.

One of the most famous is Wild Woman Cave.  I visited the cave back in the 1960's but the years have dimmed my memory of the journey.  I do remember the tiny opening at that time.  I have heard that spelunkers have enlarged the opening in the succeeding years.  

The single thing that I do remember was trying to find out how the cave got it's name and who was the 'wild woman".  I finally have that information and thought I would share it with you here.  From the first time I heard of Wild Woman Cave, I could imagine that there was some banshee patrolling her domain atop the Arbuckle Mountains, devouring any man who dared enter her lair.  Turns out that it was not so colorful, but close.

Ethel Hindman was a young, pretty  and nice young lady who lived 3 miles southwest of Turner Falls.  She was an accomplished cowgirl and was very athletic.  Ethel was not as much 'wild' as she was daring.  It is even said that when the barnstormers came through in the 1920's, she dove off the wing of a biplane into a local lake. (Ed. note - I have seen a photo of her diving off the wing of the biplane into the lake, she really did it.)

The cave was know to exist for years, but during one dry spell, it was determined that there was water in the cave.  The Arbuckles are solid rock with little topsoil.  It was decided to go into the cave and locate a pool of water that could be tapped.  Ethel volunteered to go down the vertical shaft and find the water.  She measured the direction and distance, from the opening, to the water's location.  Then the men on top located the spot, drilled for the water and hit the pool.  The well and windmill produced water for many years.  It is said that the men remarked that "Ethel Hindman was sure a wild woman".

Some time later, spelunkers went into the cave and set off some smoke bombs.  Seems that smoke came out all over those hills.  A much safer and less intimidating entrance was found to enter the cave.  Ethel Hindman is said to have gone to Hollywood to become a stuntwoman in the movies.

NOTE: Ethel Hindman later married and had children.  She moved back to Oklahoma and settled in Pawhuska where she lived to a ripe old age.  She is buried somewhere near Pawhuska..

- Contributed by Dennis Muncrief, September 2001.