Maplewood History: The Location Of the Barry and Johnston Caves

To try and solve the mystery of the location of the Barry and Johnston caves, I contacted Joe Light of the Meramec Valley Grotto, a nonprofit dedicated to the study, exploration and conservation of area caves.  I met Joe and some of his compatriots ten years ago when they generously answered an invitation from me to have a look at the entrance to the Sutton Cave here in Maplewood.

Joe kindly sent me everything his research had discovered about the two caves in question with the caveat that I not reveal the location of the entrances to the cave to the general public. This is the standard policy of his organization.  It is necessary due to the fact that many of the caves are very dangerous for various reasons.  In many there is always a risk of cave-ins.  In an urban area the caves are often polluted by sewage and the air is unsafe to breathe.  And these folks are preservationists of caves.  Amateur spelunkers not only risk injury or death to themselves but they often damage fragile natural features of the caves and harm the environment in the process.

Joe asked me to be vague about the location of these caves so I will.  He is going to approve this before I post it.  I can say this honestly that it will do no one any good to search for the entrances  for one of them has been so modified as to make entrance impossible and the other has a building built on top of it.

Hopefully Joe will approve of my telling you that one of the cave entrances (now completely paved over) was located a short distance west of the Schnucks store at Brentwood Blvd. and Manchester.  Another was located north of Manchester and east of Brentwood Blvd, about 2,000 feet from the first.

If you have an interest in caves, you can contact Joe Light at  He also has produced a couple of very interesting books with the Missouri Speleological Society.

Joe has provided these two interesting photographs of Dr. Barry (Berry)’s home which was once located a little west of the aforementioned Schnucks store.

Dr. Barry (Berry)’s home which was once located just a little west of the Schnucks store at Brentwood Blvd. and Manchester. I think this is a view of the facade which faced Manchester Road.  I don’t know which spelling is correct.

This wonderful image shows the entrance to the cave at lower left in what I assume is the front yard.  In my experience this is typical of a lot of cave entrances in the area or at least the way they were before they were altered.

One of Joe’s books which can be ordered here.

Consider this a bonus image. I found it while I was looking for something else.

This book of Joe’s can be ordered here.


Much thanks to Joe Light for all of his help on this post.  All of these cave people that I have met are very friendly.  If any of you regular readers decide to get involved with this sort of thing (I’m talking to you George and Mark) keep us posted.  It is fascinating to me but I am NOT going down in any of them.

There might be something to be said for being underground these days.  Things above ground have gone beyond crazy with the invasion of the Capitol building in DC.  There are a lot of folks who are responsible for this.  I’d like to see every one of them get the justice they deserve.

Hopefully things will calm down after the inauguration and we can get back to things that we should be concerned with. Things like helping each other and working on unifying a divided country.  The ones who sew division will still be around but all decent people must resist them and the false deluge of information that they produce.

Thanks for your attention.

Doug Houser    January 7, 2021


14 thoughts on “Maplewood History: The Location Of the Barry and Johnston Caves

  1. Doug, I give a hearty, full throated approval to your closing statement. With deepest gratitude I thank everyone who voted to remove the most incompetent, lying and divisive, not quite human, to ever occupy the most powerful office in the world. He did so much damage to our international partners and organizations, greatly aided environmental and habitat destruction, demeaned the presidency, supported, in admiration, leaders of authoritarian bent, employed every method every authoritarian has used to destroy democracy, ending in an attempted insurrection in the very halls and alter of our democracy. He spread hate and spewed venom, magnifying and lending credence to groups predicated on hate and imagined superiority. This political train wreck never had a plan for anything, except to promote his narssistic self, using whatever would “sell” the crowd being spoken to at the moment, without any longevity afterwards, and often contradicted within the same performance. This total lack of planning and producing a detailed program has allowed this horrid pandemic to devastate our lives and economy, created the deepest grief and agony within the hearts of over 400,000 of our fellow countrymen, but take heart, he made sure no wealthy person was left behind and that none of his noble enablers and supporters will suffer consequences for their misdeeds as he so graciously used his powers of pardon to protect them. What a guy!!! So much more could be said yet why go on, most of the deluded will remain so and I can’t wait to say—————–GOOD RIDDANCE.

    • Doesn’t sound like the definition of “unifying” to me. Just more “I hate anyone that doesn’t agree with me” vitrol.

  2. Always interesting Doug! Missouri, certainly a cave state! My cave memories include YMCA camp. We visited a cave (near Petosi, Camp Lakewood). I’m like “sure”…with visions of the quarry cave at Rockwood Reservation in my head. NO more caves for me….after a hole in the ground mud cave…leaping from one muddy underground cliff to another tethered to other campers with a rope! Your descriptions suit me just fine!! Always plenty of adventure!😉

    • Damp and cold is the way I think about them now. Even the commercial ones. I’m done with them as well. Thanks for the kind words, Pickett.

  3. Thank God, I am still more afraid of going into a cave than I am of staying above ground. Barely. Thank you for your article.

  4. Dr. John Marshall Berry lived in the home from the early 1900’s until the mid 1930’s. He was a prominent physician in the Brentwood, Rock Hill and Webster Groves area. The address of the home was 8950 Manchester Road. It was behind the current day Elaine Rosi Academy.

    The cave entrance was in the front of the Berry property. There were other cave entrances along North and South Road (Brentwood Blvd.) The cave system in Brentwood is extensive, although access is no longer possible.

    • So the newspaper article spelled the name wrong. Who can you trust? Thank you, Dan, for this information you have added.

      • There are a lot of Berrys in the early history of St Louis County, several involved in government. Not all related. I doubt Berry Road is named after Dr. Berry.

        • I doubt it, too, Dan. I would have suspected that it was named after someone in the same family as Dr. Berry but you say everyone with that last name was not related. Sounds like you may have done a bit of research yourself?

  5. Hey Tom, “the writer’s standard of fidelity to the truth should be so high that his invention, out of his experience, should produce a truer account than anything factual can be. For facts can be observed badly; but when a good writer is creating something, he has time and scope to make of it an absolute truth.” Ernest Hemingway. Garrison Keillor said something similar. From memory he said no story is good enough on its own that it can’t stand a little embellishment. Perhaps the author (not identified) of that article had some of the same instincts? I agree. It’s a great story.

    I vaguely remember exploring one other cave as a teenager. It was somewhere in the woods around High Ridge. Again with a couple of friends, we entered at the bottom of a steep sinkhole that we had to use a rope to get to down to. I don’t think we went very far into this cave. The part I remember that I never wanted to do again was that the entrance was so low, maybe 2 feet high or less and half-filled with water…very cold water. We never thought for a second that the water level could rise. We had no special clothing or lighting. Stupid.

    Much thanks for your comments. I truly appreciate them.

  6. Doug, this story you’ve turned up from the newspaper is a gem. It was so good that I admit to wondering how much the newspapermen who got it into print had to adjust the voices of the three fellows. They gave such a vivid, thorough account of the adventure, and they spoke so beautifully of how they felt in the darkness. (So dark that his eyes hurt!) Somebody said it brought Mark Twain to mind, and I can get with something like that. I’m so glad you set out the whole thing to read here.

    What is it about caves that make them such a temptation? The only one I was ever in was a very grand one in Kentucky, roomy and temperate. I can’t imagine wishing to be in a dark, cramped burrow of a cave, with uncertain pools of water of unknown source: a nightmare. And yet somehow I do feel the call of the thing.