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May 1996 Near NormalNews


Jim Jacobs


Well, it looks like we're beginning to emerge from our short period oflethergy. Some trips have taken place recently, others are in the planningstage. Some of the NNG ladies (dubbed 'Cave Babes' by Linda Bundy) took a tripto Illinois Caverns, as did Brian and Bruce (with young people from theirchurch). Jim got to break in his new caving boots when he and Marty decided tomake an unplanned excursion to the back area of this cave. When you haven't hadtime to do any caving in a while, a visit to IC is a good way to "break inslowly", and get your caving legs back. It sure felt good to get backunderground. Tim Shaffer is planning a trip to Camp's Gulf Cave and others inTennessee over Memorial Day. Contact him if you're interested. We're going tohelp to gate the lower level and vertical shafts of Blackball Mine the end ofMay. John Marquart is in charge of this project, so please contact him toschedule a day of work. We'll need some warm bodies to help with the labor.This will the culmination of this long project, and a very important project ithas been! It began as a mapping project, and most of the NNG'rs participated atone time or the other. From there, it developed into an important Indiana batconservation movement, thanks to John's liaison work with Bat ConservationInternational and the Illinois Department of Conservation. We should be proud!



Kentucky Speleofest: May 24-27, Camp Carlson, KY

Keller Cave Cleanup: July 20-21, Campout weekend at Krueger Cave

Mammoth Cave Restoration Field Camp: Aug. 11-17. Projects to include lintremoval along Broadway passage, Echo River restoration and gate replacement atthe historic entrance. Fee is $50 (plus $7 for t-shirt). Spots limited! ContactNorm Rogers



(502) 564-7815


After some discussion at the meeting, we decided to hold THE NEXT MEETING ONMAY 24 (MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND), rather than to move it to the next week andcollide with the Blackball gating project.

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April 26


Called to order at 7:15 by Vice President Beth Reinke. (President JohnMarquart is still on tour.) Others present: Jim Jacobs, Marty Jacobs, LenStorm, Lara Storm, Brian Braye, Julie Angel, guest Mike Angel, Mark Belding,Kevin Rasmus, D.C. Young.


The minutes of the March 22 meeting were delivered by Jim Jacobs andapproved with the correction that the next meeting will be on May 24, NOT May31. The treasurer's report was given by Julie Angel and was accepted as read.Copies of a letter from Dan Taylor of BCI were distributed which containedinformation on the upcoming gating project at Blackball Mine. President JohnMarquart also sent summaries of his own reports on BBM and the ISS meeting(included later in this issue).


Marty Jacobs, Julie Angel and Tonja Frazer discussed the recent"all-girl" excursion to Illinois Caverns. (See "First CavingTrip" by Jo Myers, elswhere in this issue). Marty and Linda Bundy areplanning another such trip in June to visit Buckner's and Clicks caves inIndiana.


Old Business: Brian Braye collected enough money at the meeting to get theorder for grotto patches placed. He is ordering a few extras, so if you weren'table to place your order in time, you might still be able to get one. Brianalso send a copy of our grotto logo to Tim Shaffer, who is investigating havingwindow decals made. The Hoosier National Forest KARST Program was againmentioned. So far, no one from the NNG has expressed interest in participating.The financial difficulties created by the loss of our discount (which wasapproximately 40%) for printing the NEWS was discussed. Kathy O'Connell can get20% as a Unit 5 teacher. Brian will check other printers. Tonja will checkHartland College, and volunteered to help assemble the NEWS.


New Business: Julie reported on the cave presentation that she gave atRobison School in Champaign. She included slides and let the kids go throughour portable crawlway. Tonja told us about her presentation at Hammitt school,which featured helmets and dirty gear. (See article, elsewhere in this issue)Both went very well, indeed. We are very fortunate to have two more lecturerswho can represent the NNG so capably. Brian and D.C. Young noted that they willlead a group of young people from their church to Illinois Caverns on May 24th.We discussed having a grotto meeting at the Upper Limits climbing gym in eitherJuly or August. Brian will coordinate. This meeting will consist of a shortbusiness meeting and a course in belaying a climber. There will be a fee forthe course.



Respectfully submitted,

Jim Jacobs, secretary.

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Mark Richardson



Dear Dr. Biner,

This past weekend I went to nerd hole paradise in the area below SpeeglePoint. We tried to locate Migraine Misery cave, Rat Hole, Hargiss Horror HoleHeadache Hole, and Nose Well pit. We couldn't find any of them, so weridgewalked around Speegle Point and I found something which did not matchanything on the survey. Then I was so disgusted that I tried to locate HargissCemetery Cave but failed. Then I tried to locate Hargiss Cemetary. I couldn'teven find this! Any help please?? The next day I returned with Marion to checkout a thing high up on the mountain. He said he didn't know what it was but adoctor could probably get rid of it with antibiotics. Nearby Marion found atight tight tight thing that he is still struggling to get out of. It was 40feet deep, but with Marion stuck in the bottom of it, it was only 35 feet deep.This would be hunky-dory if he could get out, but it's been a week and he'sstill down there cursing. Anyway, was just wondering what is everyone'sperception of what qualifies a hole in the ground? I've heard varying opinionseven in the same state. Is Alabama the only state where there's some questionas to what can be turned in as a cave? Wouldn't it be nice if Marion couldclean up his language so we could take him to eat at decent restaurants? Thanksfor listening to my incessant dribble.

Pat S.


Dear Pat,

If one is going to listen to dribble, incessant dribble is the only way togo. What qualifies as a cave varies from place to place and really depends onhow far you've ridge-walked, how well you can judge measurements, how much of aliar you are, and how likely it is that someone else will ever go back to thatparticular cave(?) to discover whether or not you are a liar. Dr. Biner Nexttime-Don't wear that hooded sweatjacket! and other things one should never dowhen going to purchase bang.

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Internet discussion


Submitted as food for thought: I hate to see any cave damaged in any way,but I also do not like to see caves closed for purely preservation purposes. Iwould ask the question, 'What time period do we have in mind when planning toclose a cave?' Several

months? A year? Several years? A century? Forever? Are we closing caves toprevent current generations of cavers, or even vandals, from destroyingdisplays of fragile beauty so that future generations can have the opportunityto do so? Or, are we closing caves 'forever' to keep them safe from all humaninteractions? The wonder and beauty we encounter in caves is classified as suchby us, the cavers of this world, because we are the ones who endure thehardships, and often dangers, to explore the netherworld that most people shun.Many of us devote much of our lives to caving, for a variety of reasons, butoften so that we can simply have a chance to stand in

awe in front of a giant white flowstone column, or to gaze in wonder upon atiny pool of cave pearls. These marvels of nature will still exist, for eonsmost likely, if we close the caves in which they lie hidden. But, like the oldtree in the forest, if no one can look upon them and delight in theirexistance, what meaning do they have? Does that cave pearl have an intrinsicvalue because it lies hidden and undisturbed forever in the depths of theearth? Or should we strive to provide those willing to sacrifice their time,and sometimes their very lives, the opportunity to view the wonders that havebeen discovered? We can always take reasonable precautions to prevent thedestruction of that which we seek to look upon. What it all comes down to inthe end is that Mother Nature, the creator of all these wonders, will also bethe inevitable destroyer of the same. Caves and the beauty they display, likeall natural wonders on this planet, are purely transient. They are created anddestroyed in the natural processes that are at work all around us, every day,every century, every millenia. If we are lucky enough to be granted anopportunity in our brief lives to enjoy these marvelous works, it seems a crimeto turn our backs on such a chance, even if through our enjoyment process, wehasten the inevitable destruction of that which we seek to enjoy.

George Jaegers

NSS 12978



In a message dated 96-05-09 18:45:21 EDT, you write: George Jaegers'thoughts regarding cave closure can be summarized "If we are closing caves,for how long? For what reasons? To avoid destruction? Doesn't every cave tripcause some destruction? Don't we, as transient beings ourselves, have the rightto partake of the transient wonders of the cave, even though it may hasten itsdistruction?" I hope this is a fair summary of his views.

Now my answer: Total closure of caves is justifiable only to protect thehabitat of certain cave life, which would quite literally die and perhaps goextinct without that protection. Most endangered species only require seasonalclosure, although some caves, because of multiple species, end up closed yearround. Geologic resources, being somewhat more resilient, may require onlypartial closure, to limit traffic, and slow their destruction.

With the species exception in a few cases, I feel it is much more realisticto enforce restrictions, not total closure on sensitive caves, because thatpermits the opportunities which Mr. Jaegers so rightly says are part of ourbirthright as humans. Fewer people will break into a cave, if they know theycan get into it legitimately, however limited that access may be. IMHO, it isnot humans per se, but great quantities of them on a constant basis, whicheventually erode the resources (both living, and not) of a cave.Allowing some(though not unlimited) access, makes a place *special* and most people willtherefore take extra care, if they are allowed in. A cave has a "carryingcapacity" just like any other ecosystem. Determining that number may bedifficult, but it can be done.

With some forethought, cavers can leave their cave pearls be--and see them,too.


Jo Schaper


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Jo Myers


My novice caving experience began early on Sunday, March 24th. I awoke earlyso I could shower and curl my hair--only to find out later that I would have abad case of helmet hair! I rode with Marty Jacobs, Kathy O'Connell, TonjaFrazer, and Julie Angel to Illinois Cavern in southern Illinois. Upon ourarrivel, I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Armon Krueger. I thought if thecave was only half as interesting as Armon, then I was in for a real adventure.Soon after leaving Armon, we donned our caving clothes. I am, to this day,forever indebted to the O'Connells for letting me use their caving gear. I hadno idea how many times I would bump my head on the cave walls! My knees arealso thankful for the knee pads. I learned quickly that it is important to usethe bathroom facilities prior to getting into caving clothes. I'm sure thatthis helpful tip could only come from an experienced caver. After entering thecave, we experienced total darkness. We then popped wint-o-green lifesavers inour mouths and were able to see a miniature fourth of July! With our eyes nowadjusted, we began our travels through the cave. We saw some cave creaturesalong the way including shrimp, a salamander, and the cutest little bats. Weate lunch in a room called the Lunch Room. Imagine that! Part of our adventureincluded a belly crawl to get behind a waterfall. That was really exciting. Wecontinued to an area where we had to walk through water up to our waists. Atfirst, I thought "there's no way I'm doing this...there must be anotherway." However, after watching all the others plunge fearlessly ahead, Iovercame my wimpishness and got my feet wet, along with a few other bady parts.The end result was beautifyl. It was now time to head back to the entrance. Myfinal thought while exiting the cave was, "I'm hooked--I'm a cavejunkie!" The ending to such a wonderful time consisted of warm, dryclothes, and Pizza Hut. It doesn't get much better than this!

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Tonja Fraser

I want to begin by thanking Jim Jacobs for thinking of me when he had toturn down this opportunity himself. I received a call from Bruce Anderson, whoasked if I would be interested in giving a caving presentation for somechildren at Hammitt School,a division of the Baby Fold in Normal. I eagerlyaccepted.

Then I hung up... and thought..."what am I doing? I'm not qualified todo this!" What was I going to say? How was I going to remember all thenames of all the minerals and formations? Then I remembered, These are kids!"I'm nothing but a big kid myself! I can do this!"

I knew right away that the most important thing to do to prepare was to getsome nice cave mud on my coveralls (in order to give a complete presentation ofcourse). So, I went to the 3/22 NNG meeting to round up some cavers to go withme. This is how the all girl, I mean all woman, trip came to be, what a blast!

Anyway, I got nice and messy for the presentation. I gathered my pack,photos, cave calendar, and an extra helmet, and went off to school. As I walkedpast the classroom in my high heels and skirt, a young student says,"That's a spelunker?!" Well! We do come in all shapes and sizes don'twe?

I transformed in the rest room and waited until it was time to make a grandentrance. The "Oohs, Wows and Cools" were more than I expected. Thechildren ranged in age from eight to eleven and all had some form of behavioralor learning disability. They were wonderful. They had written their questionsin advance and each child got to ask me two of these questions. The only catchwas that no one could speak unless they were holding the huge foam rubbermicrophone. Fun!

The questions included: "What do you do in caves?" "Whatanimals do you see in caves?" "Have you ever gotten lost in acave?" and my personal favorite, "Have you ever found gold ortreasure in a cave?" This was a great lead-in to the unfortunate things wedo find, trash and spray paint. I passed around some pictures, and for thegrand finale, I passed around the helmets for the kids to try on. They werealmost as excited as I was when I first got my helmet! They even gave me a newsticker to add to the collection. Overall, the day was a great success. I planto speak to more classrooms in the future so let me know if you have anysuggestions. Thanks again to Jim and Bruce for giving me this opportunity. Ithink all of us learned something that day.

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Jim Jacobs


As I was nearing Albany, NY in March, I passed by a sign touting "HoweCaverns". I was on my way to a bowling tournament, and caving was far frommy mind. I had read about this cave in some brochures some time back, andthought that it might be neat to drop in on the return trip.

As it turned out, I didn't make the finals, and on the way home, the signbeckoned to me again and I couldn't resist. The car seemed to turn of its ownaccord, and I was headed to a cave!

Nestled in the rural New York hills, the tourist building looked verypleasant and rustic. I pulled in the parking lot and walked in. The middle ofMarch is not exactly the height of tourist season, so I didn't expect to haveto fight the crowds. I paid for my ticket ($11.50!), and the man at the windowsaid that a tour had just left, and that he would call ahead and ask them towait, so that I wouldn't have to wait 45 minutes for the next one.

It didn't take long to catch up with the tour group..er, I mean touringcouple. With the guide and me, we made a cozy foursome.

It took a lot of work to commercialize this cave. The natural entrance wasat the other end, but was owned by a cement company. They had to dig/enlarge ashaft over 200 feet to install two elevators and a set of stairs in order toshow the cave from the other end. This must be Howe's Caverns main claim tofame, because there wasn't much else there. After viewing the cave, I wonderedwhy they went to all the trouble of digging the shaft. It's not much more thana one way solution tube with a few meanders, a short length of zig-zaggingnarrow canyon, and a little boat ride at the end. If this cave were in Kentuckyor Missouri, they wouldn't have messed with it. Since it's New York, it's allthey have, so they show it. Since the cave has largely a clay floor, and floodsoccasionally, they BRICKED the entire cave floor and stairs. Said it drainedbetter that way. Oo-kay! I saw very little in the way of flowstone. Some of ithad an unusual grayish color which was pretty, but it was not plentiful. Togive you an idea of how ordinary this cave is, two chest-high stalagmites thatthey show off in their literature were dragged out of the stream beyond thecommercial section of the cave and GLUED TO THE FLOOR where tourists could seethem! They even had names for each of them!

The topper was the "chapel" where numerous weddings have beenheld. In a room a bit above the stream level, they had cut a piece of thick,white calcite into a heart shape, and embedded it in the floor with a lightbulb beneath it, so that the light shined through. This is where the happycouples stand when they are married. Farther down the cave, the guide showed methe spot where they had HACKED THE FLOWSTONE OUT OF THE CEILING to make theheart for the chapel!

The boat ride at the end of the commercial part of the cave took us to thespot where a dam had been built to make the boat ride possible. The boat waspropelled by the guide, who stood up and pushed against the ceiling. Luckily,the boat was large and wide enough that he could do this without falling out ortipping us over.

The cement company who owned the natural entrance has long been out ofbusiness, but according to the guide, they mined over 200 feet of cave fromthat end before shutting down. I assumed that the composition of the rock mustbe somewhat the same sort of dolomitic limestone which was mined from theBlackball Mine.

Well, at least I had chance to get into the cool, damp underground for thefirst time in a while.

Last year, Marty and I had gone to Illinois Caverns with Pat O'Connell andhis daughter, Alison for her first caving trip. Back in the cave, past thewaterfall and the dragon is an area where the passage turn left around acorner, past the mushroom passage, there is another waterfall. Since the waterseems to get deeper at this point, and the mud banks quite steep, this is aplace where I've always stopped, even though it's clear that the cave stillgoes, and goes big. Usually, we're with a large group with a number of rookies,and since the going from here looks either very wet or difficult, this hasalways been a natural turn-around point. On the trip with the O'Connells, Patand I had left Marty and Alison to explore beyond that point a little ways. Wedidn't go very far, since we knew that they would get cold while waiting forus. From time to time, Marty and I had discussed going back to try our luckbeyond that point, and recently, on the spur of the moment, we decided to doit. We drove down during a weekday so that we wouldn't have to deal with a lotof "spelunkers". Imagine our dismay, when we turned into the lane tothe cave, and saw--not one, but TWO buses. Visions of the time we had to followa huge church group out danced in my head, but luckily they were just gettingready to leave.

There had been a lot of rain in the area recently, so we were unsure whetherthe stream at the turnaround point would be too deep. As we headed back there,it was clear that the water level was up, but not quite as high as it had beenon our trip a couple of years ago.

When we reached the waterfall, it was time to have a little snack andconsider our possibilities. When Pat and I had passed that point, we had eachtried one of the mud banks, Pat, the right, and I the left side. Pat had endedup losing his friction and sliding down the bank into the stream. Luckily, hewas well past the pool under the waterfall, and the stream was only a fewinches deep where he hit. He hit the ground runnin', but his momentum carriedhim into the opposite bank. He was able to slow his progress so that he didn'thit hard enough to injure anything, anyway. On the opposite mud bank, I hadreached a point where it had become too slick and steep for me to go anyfarther. I dug my heels in, and inched my way down toward the stream. Pat gotbeneath me, secured my boot heels, and helped me over the edge.

I knew that Marty and I were not about to get past the waterfall the sameway Pat and I had. Too dangerous and unpredictable. We had to find analternative. We took the right bank, the side Pat had taken, since he hadgotten farther downstream than I had, and with greater ease. We didn't try togo as far as he did, just far enough to get past the waterfall pool. We sidledalong the bank until we found a place where we could slip into the streamwithout danger, in a place where it wasn't too deep. Of course, looking back Irealized that we couldn't climb back up that same spot. Too slick and toosteep. Hmmm! We would also have to come up with an imaginative exit plan!

The passage is quite large at this point, and is impressive. There are moreformations to be seen in ten feet of Illinois Caverns than in the whole ofHowe's Cavern.

Three very striking features are to be found downstream:

THE THREE SENTINELS. After a walk/wade of about 20 minutes, the stream andbanks widen out, and before you, about 50 feet ahead, is a place where thestream is flanked by mighty pillars, two on one side, one on the other. Theyremind me of the great statues of the kings, which guarded the banks of theriver gate of the Anduin in "Lord of the Rings", so I call them"The Sentinels".

THE HIPPO. Marty found this one. It is a large, long rock that is partiallysubmerged in the stream. One end clearly seems to outline the ears, eye andlarge mouth of a hippo. The body of the rock completes the picture.

THE BIG MUDDY DOME. The largest dome in Illinois Caverns. Still goingdownstream, there is a wide opening on the right where you can climb up somevery muddy rock banks to enter into a huge dome, approximately 15 x 20 feet,with a 30 foot ceiling. It's quite a sight! We just walked around craning ournecks for a while, trying to believe our eyes. Impressive!

A ways past this area, we notice that the ceiling had begun to lower and wasnow flat. Although we didn't yet have to stoop, we were clearly entering into adifferent section of the cave. It wasn't until the ceiling was within a foot ortwo of our head that we noticed that the flecks of light colored material stuckto it was vegetation. When we had to stoop, it became clear that in times ofvery high water, that the cave bottlenecks at this area and sumps! Since it hadbeen raining, and we were unsure if more rain were in the offing, we becamecautious, and decided not to go much further. We went another hundred feet orso to a point where the main passage ends, and divides into a very low ceilingstreamway, and a passage which goes low past some breakdown. This seemed like agood point to turn around, since we had reached our main objective, andexplored the cave to the point where the main trunk passage ends, and anothertype of cave continues.

When we reached the waterfall, it again became time to think. The banks weretoo steep and slick to climb, so we tested out this place and that. I finallystarted wading toward the waterfall to see just how deep it really got. I gotto chest deep, when I found a ledge that I could step up on and wade just a fewfeet to the waterfall, which is only about two to three feet high, and not adifficult climb at all. We did it!

Usually, on the way back, we stop at the Pizza Hut in Waterloo, but thistime we decided to try the Lincoln Trail restaurant, which we pass on everytrip to the cave, but had never tried. Well, I'm sorry it took so long! Greatsalad bar, and very good food! We'll stop there again!

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