Lemp Brewery Caves

The former Lemp Brewery in St. Louis sits in a region of large natural caverns, which several nearby brewerys have historically taken advantage of. Caves and cellars provided a cooling system for beer in the days before mechanical refrigeration, and the lemp caves were heavily excavated and enlarged into multi-storey subterranean storage caverns. Later the remaining natural portions of the cave served variously as a theater, private recreation area for the Lemp family (complete with swimming pool), and later a tourist trap with miniature railway and interpretive guides. Today the cave and in fact the entire complex is very difficult to access, and I'm grateful to the local who were willing to show us around. As a courtesy I've refrained from publishing these photos until the cave was mentioned elsewhere. 

The surface buildings of the Lemp complex have been reused variously by other companies, including the International Shoe Co. At present, a number of artist lofts, storage warehouses, and an antique shop occupy various parts of the brewery.

Beneath the brewery lie massive artificial cellars on at least 3 levels, with a variety of stairways, ladders, and keg-o-vators connecting them. One large space was reportedly the Lemp family ballroom, while other arched stone chambers resemble crypts and burial chambers.

The natural cave below the artificial cellars is known as Cherokee Cave. This space has few natural formations left as the originals were removed during its use as storage. In the former theater, there are the remains of plaster formations installed to replicate the cave's original appearance (or a fanciful version thereof). Several rusted and destroyed ladders and staircases ascend towards either the surface, other buildings, or perhaps the nearby Lemp family mansion. Where the cave should loop, both sides are blocked by the nearby freeway, and there are rumors that the original Cherokee cave once extended much further below St. Louis. In one area we found an extremely old stone-lined passage which led to even deeper and unexplored sinkholes and cavers, which are not shown on any official maps.

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