[Note: This entry incorporates former entries fruit cave and storm cave]
1 A chamber entirely or partially excavated in the ground—in the latter case usu covered with earth—and usu separate from but in the vicinity of a house, used as: see below. Note: As many of the quots below show, the division between these two subsenses is not a sharp one.
a also fruit cave, root ~, vegetable ~: A storage place for fruits and vegetables. [Cf Fr cave cellar] chiefly N Midl See Map Cf cellar n B1, fruit cellar n, root cellar n, root house n, vegetable cellar n
1855 Daily Commercial Reg. (Sandusky OH) 9 Mar 1/5, With the little hen house, cave, and an oven of “cat and clay,” its young fruit trees, truck patch, bushes and green sward, it would be a paradise compared to the room occupied by the poor in large cities. 1865 IL State Ag. Soc. Trans. 5.207, A Fruit Cave.—Mr. Coe had just completed a fruit cellar or cave. . . The walls are of limestone, eighteen inches thick, . . the lower . . [story] is sunk in the hill, the upper part is to be covered with earth, roof shapen, and turfed with blue grass. . . In one corner will be a bin of ice, which will add to its coolness. 1887 Altoona Tribune (PA) 6 Dec /4, Mrs. Mary Jones . . while in the act of closing the door of her fruit cave was badly bitten in the hand by a musk-rat which was secreted in the wall. 1891 Pittsburgh Dispatch (PA) 10 Nov 3/4, [Advt:] Close to electric street cars and three railroad stations, female college, high and public school, as well as college; stabling, carriage house, vegetable cave, etc. 1908 Lincoln Eve. News (NE) 2 Nov 15/1, A Home-Made Vegetable Cave. . . Any farm boy of eighteen who has ordinary genius for planning and building . . can build one of these out-door caves. . . They may also be resorted to by the family in time of danger from destructive wind storms. 1910 Lynden Tribune (WA) 15 Sept 6/5, [Advt:] New 7 room house. Several out buildings and root cave. 1933 AmSp 8.1.48 Ozarks, Cave. . . A cellar. Many hillmen use natural caves to store their food in, but the same word is used to designate a dug cellar. 1950 WELS (A place for keeping carrots, turnips, potatoes, etc over winter) 1 Inf, WI, Cave. 1953 Des Moines Register (IA) 4 Oct sec H 21/3, A cave near the back steps will help you eat better; and maybe, if you dive into it when a tornado comes roaring over, the cave will save your life so that you can keep on eating. 1954 Harder Coll. cwTN, Cave. . . Fruit cellar. 1959 Des Moines Register (IA) 21 May 7/2, All nine members of the two Donald families ran to a fruit cave near the farm house. None of them was injured [by a tornado]. 1965–70 DARE (Qu. M19, A place for keeping carrots, turnips, potatoes, and so on over the winter) 38 Infs, chiefly N Midl, Cave; IL26, OH95, Vegetable cave; IN30, Fruit cave; OH80, Root cave; (Qu. D16, . . Parts added on to the main part of a house) Inf MD30, Cave—partly or totally underground, for storing food, attached to house; (Qu. D22, Underground place to go to in case of a violent windstorm) Inf OH90, Cave—where they stored food; (QR, near Qu. D40) Inf IL55, Instead of having a cellar, some houses had a little cave built beside the house, near the kitchen door. It had a double door on it—outside door and then steps and a door at the bottom, with a mound of dirt over it, used to keep foods in. 1965 [see 1b below]. 1971 Springfield Leader & Press (MO) 31 May 27/4, [Advt:] Garage, small barn & good fruit cave. 1988 Kinmundy Express (IL) 22 Sept 4/4, A refrigerated storage is the ideal storage. The second choice is a good cave. . . In caves or basements, apples should be placed in a nearly air tight container. 1996 Manhattan Mercury (KS) 24 July sec C 5/2, In the fall, we also had our garden sass packed away in the fruit cave and that was one job I had to help with.
b also cyclone cave, storm ~: A tornado shelter. scattered, but esp N Midl See Map Cf cellar n B3, cyclone cellar n, storm house n 2, storm pit n
1873 U.S. War Dept. Annual Rept. 1872–73 1.1063 eIA, Thomas Waters, Jackson Township, section 19, witness: Saw the tornado coming rolling on the ground like a wave. Went to cave and called upon Mrs. Waters to [f]ollow. 1880 Lexington Weekly Intelligencer (MO) 8 May /7, Mr. Blair has built a cyclone cave. “Blow ye winds.” 1881 Council Grove Republican (KS) 8 July /5, E. T. Hunt is engaged in digging him a storm cave. He has had enough of those Kansas zephyrs in a balloon house. 1903 Hutchinson News (KS) 27 May 1/4, On the Dunning farm all the buildings were destroyed, the family escaping by taking to the cyclone cave. 1928 Decatur Daily Rev. (IL) 8 June 4/6, Carrol A. Berry has been awarded the contract to erect a storm cave for the Hazel Green school district. 1930 Lincoln Sun. Star (NE) 11 May 1/1, [Headline:] Second Tornado Strikes. . . Four Persons At Ed Schernikau’s Home Reach Storm Cave Just Ahead of Wind. 1965 Lincoln Star (NE) 1 June 29/5, [Advt:] A good 5 room home with 2 year old gas wall furnace, attached carport. Cement drive. Storm or fruit cave. 1965–70 DARE (Qu. D22, Underground place to go to in case of a violent windstorm) 45 Infs, esp N Midl, Cave; CO19, GA13, IA11, 31, IN54, KS8, 14, 16, NE2, Storm cave; IA4, PA60, Caves; KS5, Cyclone cave; NC67, Fallout shelter or cave. 1967 Emporia Gaz. (KS) 4 July 11/6, [Advt:] Good storm cave, two chickenhouses, double garage, 35 fruit trees. 2000 Atchison Daily Globe (KS) 22 June 8/2, For Sale By Owner. . . Has three sided carport attached & storm cave in backyard. 2011 Thomas Co. Hist. Soc. (KS) Prairie Winds Winter 4, Mother went outside to see what damage had been done when she saw another larger tornado following in the wake of the first one. She grabbed Laura and me and took us to the cave, which was about 8 or 10 feet from the door.
[. . .]