Trapped in an Inwood Hill Cave

Cole Thompson emerges from cave in Inwood Hill Park.

Sometimes, as an adult,  I find myself lost in the nostalgia of childhood.  I imagine myself running a wooded trail, chased by my younger brothers, exploring the forests, creeks and sewers of 1970’s suburbia.  Every day in the forest was an adventure and anything seemed possible.  Still fresh are the memories of searching for an undiscovered cave where we could hide away from the world of adults.

Thus, I was delighted to come across the below 1955 news account about a group of Inwood teens who discovered a hidden underworld and, for a brief period, attempted to live in their subterranean hideout.

The Knickerbocker News, Albany, NY, March 22, 1955

The Knickerbocker News
March 22, 1955
Adventure Under Parkway

Police Save 3 Children Trapped in N.Y. Cave

New York—Two girls and a boy, trapped since Saturday like Tom Sawyer and Becky in a hillside cave, were rescued today by police.  The scene, in contrast to the quiet Mississippi Valley described by Mark Twain, was in upper Manhattan, close to the heavily traveled Henry Hudson Parkway.

New York Times, March 23, 1955.

The youngsters were hoarse from shouting for help, but otherwise unhurt.

New York Times, March 23, 1955.

The three teen-agers and some friends were exploring the “wilds” of Inwood Hill Park, which overlooks the Hudson River and lies below a heavily traveled parkway, early Saturday night when they slid into the cave through an entrance near its top. They were unable to climb back out.

At first the trapped youngsters—Ronald Tevlin, 15; Joele Weber, 16, and her sister, Jacqueline, 13, were delighted with their predicament.

Their friends, just a bit envious, agreed to supply food through the entrance to the cave.

The three were frightened Saturday night, but Sunday they could see sunshine through the small entrance, and their friends arrived with frankfurters and doughnuts.

Once when they tried to climb out their scrambling caused a dirt and rockslide, which further choked the cave entrance.

It rained all yesterday and their friends had trouble climbing the muddy hillside with provisions.

The three trapped youngsters, thoroughly frightened, began to yell for help.  Above their cave thousands of cars roared past on the Henry Hudson Parkway, but the friends had left and nobody heard them.

Meanwhile, their alarmed parents were making frantic efforts to find them, and one of the trio’s young friends finally confessed that he knew where they were.

Police were lowered by ropes down the slippery hillside early today. With picks and shovels they worked for more than two hours to enlarge the cave opening without causing a fresh cave-in.

New York Times, March 23, 1955.

When pulled out, the girls and boy were hoarse from shouting, but otherwise apparently unharmed.

It was terribly dark and we just prayed and prayed,” said one of them, between bites of hamburger.

Thank God you found us.”

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  1. Cole, let me tell you a story about the cave where you are standing. Once upon a time I was a little boy living on Vermilyea Avenue, maybe 6 or 7 years old. Me and my little brother were horsing around in the living room, and I was waving my father’s folding ruler like a sword. Suddenly, the long thin ruler snapped in two. Well, my mother said, your father will never forgive you for breaking his ruler. You had better go and live in the Indian Caves! So she packed me some food, and a few extra clothes, and took me over to the cave. I settled inside as the sun was setting. She took my little brother by the hand, and headed for home. Soon I was overcome by fear. I realized that overnight I would probably be devoured by wolves. Shaking with fear, I ran out of the cave, screaming Mommy mommy don’t leave me in the cave to die! I promise to be a good boy from now on! So we then went to a hardware store and bought a replacement folding ruler, and my father never knew what I had done.

  2. Geez Louize would she truly have left you there if you hadnt a called her bluff. A mother would be arrested for child abuse for such a prank by todays standards !


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