If you are interested in the history and lore of caving in Missouri--and you should be--I'd like to recommend the book Missouri Caves in History and Legend, by H. Dwight Weaver. It would be hard to find a more qualified person to tell the story of Missouri's caves, for they have been Mr. Weaver's lifelong passion.
Missouri's caves have provided saltpeter, guano, onyx, housing for farm animals, shelter for Civil War guerillas and for outlaws, misplaced hope for treasure hunters, locations for parties, beer storage, springhouses, and tourism income. And more. This book tells all these fascinating stories, and much, much more. For such a compact volume, it provides a huge amount of information.
To whet your appetite, below is a link you should look at. Mr. Weaver gave an hour-long presentation based on this book at the Missouri State Archives, here in Jefferson City. His talk was videotaped and is available online in its entirety at the Secretary of State's "Missouri Digital Heritage" site. (Alternatively, at the same Web site, you can read the entire transcript--in case you can't download the hour-long video.)
I recently watched the video of this presentation, which was recorded on September 18, 2008, and I found it as entertaining as it was educational. I encourage you to enjoy it as well!
To watch the presentation, click on this link:
Missouri State Archives Presentation:
Missouri Caves in History and Legend, by H. Dwight Weaver