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Lilly's Musical Flutes and Roots Cave

Back at OTR, my old friend Larry Lilly excitedly told me about some new property he had bought not far from Scott Hollow, with all sorts of promising sink holes in abundance. Let's see: 1/2 mile from a 30-mile cave, lots of promising holes, sounds like it would be worth a look! I told him I'd be in the area for the annual Sligo SLAM in October, and we made plans to get together to check out some of the holes on his property.

For a lot of reasons, the SLAM did not happen this year. Since I was going to be halfway to Lewisburg at the Grand Caverns Survey that weekend anyway, I decided to go ahead and meet Larry. We met Monday morning in Pickaway and headed over to his property. First stop, a big sink that had been filled with trash until just recently. When are these farmers going to figure out these sinks drain directly into their water supply? Larry, with the help of the DNR, removed the trash and had it hauled away. A friendly backhoe operator, who was working on the foundation for Larry's cabin, cleaned out most of the larger rocks. What was left was a narrow sink with a solid limestone headwall. The sink was blocked by microwave-sized rocks, but passage could be seen below thru the cracks.

We pried rocks loose, hooked them up to Larry's winch, and hauled them out of the pit. We dug the loose dirt from around the rocks, and repeated this for many hours. It finally got to the point where we were literally digging the rocks out from under our feet, so we rigged a rope and worked on belay. In the early afternoon, we almost blocked our own way in when a rock slipped out of its sling and fell deeper into the crack. We were fortunately able to retrieve it, and by 3 PM had removed enough rocks to expose an 18" wide vertical slot.

With daylight running short, and a long drive home ahead, we figured we should check it out while we can. Larry graciously let me go first. From the bottom, Jim's voice yelled up "The good news is: It's a cave! The bad news is it doesn't seem to go anywhere." Larry rappelled in to see for himself. The cave is a crevice about 20' long, 6' wide and 15' high with flowstone at one end. Water drains below the flowstone, but it is too tight for us to even consider. Oddly carved flutes line the lower part of the walls, and these proved to be subterannean instruments that enticed us with their melodius notes. The floor of the rest of the cave is loose dirt, probably knocked in by us! It may be diggable. We did a quick survey before heading out. After a quick tour of the other promising pits on the property, we headed out for dinner and the long drive home. What a great day!

All photos by Jim McConkey except as noted. (Click on each thumbnail for a full-sized picture.)

A promising sink emerged once the garbage was removed. Larry prys a rock out of the way.
One by one the microwave-sized rocks blocking the fissure were removed... ... and hauled out of the pit by a winch.
Time to shovel out the loose dirt, and repeat 20 times. Sure looks like a crack! We can see passage, but can't get to it yet. Each dropped rock and falling dirt triggered an enticing musical note from below.
After many hours, we had finally removed enough rocks to get in. Looks like about 20' down. Jim got to go first. The happy owner checks out his new cave.
These flutes were making all the enticing musical notes. Roots dangle above Larry as he checks out where the water flows. Too small for us!

This site is written and maintained by Jim McConkey. Last update: 22.Nov.2004
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