Wonderland Cave is a natural underground cavern on Dartmoor Road in Bella Vista (Benton County) near U.S. 71 and Cave Road. C. A. Linebarger, general manager of the resort of Bella Vista, developed it in the 1920s as a tourist attraction and place for local entertainment. The cave was entered in the National Register of Historic Places on January 1, 1988.
The one-acre part of the cave used for the public has a large, naturally vaulted chamber with a concrete dance floor. There is an alcove for a ten- to twelve-piece band, a 30′ bar at the opposite end, and wooden and stone booths around the perimeter. The generally horizontal floor area provided an exotic setting for dancing at this unusual nightclub. A sign outside the cave read, “The Largest Natural Place of Amusement in America.” An overcapacity crowd of 400 came for opening night on March 1, 1930. The site evolved into what became known as the Wonderland Underground Nightclub.
After Prohibition ended, Linebarger started the Clarence Andrew Linebarger Winery in 1935, producing 1,513 gallons of wine in the first year. Wine was stored in the Wonderland Cave and was sold under the labels Belle of Bella Vista and Wonderland.
The property was leased to Cooper Industries, Inc., starting in 1965. Cooper used it for various functions for its retirement project, Bella Vista Village. The Linebarger heirs sold the property in mid-1996. The cave is not open at the present time.
For additional information:
Fite, Gilbert C. From Vision to Reality: A History of Bella Vista Village, 1915–1993. Rogers, AR: RoArk Printing, Inc., 1993.
French, Anita. “Wonderland Cave.” The Weekly Vista, November 18, 1992.
Phillips, George H., ed. The Bella Vista Story. Bella Vista, AR:Bella Vista Historical Society, 1980.
Marilyn H. Collins
Last Updated: 02/29/2012