Tunnel Cave, MO

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Tunnel Cave, MO

Postby Phil Winkler » Dec 17, 2005 11:54 am

Any Missouri cavers out there that can tell me something about Tunnel Cave and its geology? I visited it many years ago and remember what an impressive cave exit it has in a bluff on the Roubidoux Creek plain. For those who don't know it the cave goes right thru a ridge which has a highway (Rt 17??) on it. It is north of Waynesville. It may be in Bretz' Caves of Missouri which I don't have any more. I wonder what I did with it?
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Postby STLCaver » Dec 17, 2005 3:26 pm

Yo Phil! Ahh Tunnel/Spring Cave. I was there not long ago. James Corsintino and company are mapping the cave. The Tunnel is impressive. It reminds me of a TAG cave for some reason. I do no know the geology of the area, but I will private message you with the e-mail of someone who can tell you everything you could possibly want to know about Pulaski County. Tony
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Postby Phil Winkler » Dec 17, 2005 5:48 pm

Tony,

Wonderful! I cut my caving teeth in Pulaski Co in the late 60s and early 70s. There was a Pep Boys store on the town square in Waynesville that sold Justrite lamps.
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Postby STLCaver » Dec 17, 2005 6:47 pm

That is a really neat area, I wish I did more caving down that way, but there is so much to do here! The MSM boys are doing a lot of the work down there, a lot of it is CRF stuff. The last trip i was on there, they all went surveying in the back of Spring, and I went to work on a dig. The dig was exciting, a small pit cave at about 1000' elevation blowing all kinds of wind. I worked on that puppy all day with a rotary hammer, stuff blowing in my face egging me on. I finally got a crack opened up enough for the small guy, around and down he went, more of the same around the corner! Bummer. Anyway, I think the Tunnel Spring cave system is well over a mile, could be more I do not remember. I think they have it about tied up. The trip from the lower entrance to the upper is really fun, there is no mud! That makes it unusual for our neck of the woods right there! The clean washed stream I guess is what reminds me of TAG. It is an unusual cave for Ozarkistan.
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Re: Tunnel Cave, MO

Postby ethan » Dec 19, 2005 10:48 am

Phil Winkler wrote:Any Missouri cavers out there that can tell me something about Tunnel Cave and its geology? I visited it many years ago and remember what an impressive cave exit it has in a bluff on the Roubidoux Creek plain. For those who don't know it the cave goes right thru a ridge which has a highway (Rt 17??) on it. It is north of Waynesville. It may be in Bretz' Caves of Missouri which I don't have any more. I wonder what I did with it?


I can't tell you much about the geology, but I've always known it as "Dance Hall Cave" - the story I've heard is that they used to have a bar and a wooden stage in there and it was used as a dance club. We were just there a couple weeks ago:
Image

This is all speculation, but my guess as to how it formed is that the larger right side passage was "upstream" and the smaller left side passage was "downstream." It seems like the cave originally had a cross section similar to the downstream passage size and ran parallel to the bluff. At some point it cut through the bluff and the flow then ran from "upstream" directly out the bluff and into the river. Hence the upstream side and bluff entrance continued to grow, while the downstream side stayed small. But again, I'd really be curious to see the map and learn if this is really what's going on. EDIT: I looked in the guidebook from the convention there and my speculation is wrong. The smaller left tunnel is a side infeeder and the right tunnel is the main upstream passage.

If you're in the area, be sure to check out Roubidoux Spring (underwater cave) and the small dry cave in the bluff above it (a.k.a. Angry Hissing Racoon Cave).

Ethan
Last edited by ethan on Dec 21, 2005 12:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Phil Winkler » Dec 19, 2005 10:58 am

Hmm...That Dance Hall tale rings a bell. I may have heard that from someone, too. When I went thru it it was with my two sisters-in-law who were like 10 and 8 yrs old at the time. They loved it. We entered the cave going downstream I think and exited at the bluff opening near Roubidoux Creek. And, yes, it is definitely an uncharacteristic cave for Missouri due to its cleanliness.

Anyone crawled back thru Berry's Cave? I was in there taking pictures back around 1970 when we heard voices coming from INSIDE the cave! We didn't know what to expect, but soon several MSM cavers showed up. They had been back in the caves about 8 hrs. That is also when I first learned of the NSS, but didn't join until 1971 or 1972.
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Postby foonley » Dec 20, 2005 5:13 am

Phil Winkler wrote:That is also when I first learned of the NSS, but didn't join until 1971 or 1972.


Was that when you were at Ft. Sam doing AML (Advanced Medical Lab School).
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Postby Phil Winkler » Dec 20, 2005 8:09 am

Bob,

How'd you know that? I'll be damned! I just looked at your profile. Bob Burdic! Where you been, man?

No, after returning from 'Nam in 1971 I was stationed at Ft Rucker in Alabama. That's where I met Jimmy Harrison and a bunch of other cavers like the Ediger's, Paul Boyer, etc. It was then I joined the NSS. I went to Ft Sam in 1973 and joined the Bexar Grotto in San Antonio.
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Postby foonley » Dec 20, 2005 10:25 am

Hi Phil,
yes, I remember that now. I'm terrible with dates. After AML, I went to Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Bacterial/Viral diseases, the after ETS, I became a Physician Assistant for 22 years, then programmer for 7 and now retired from Kaiser in Denver.
I actually came here from my astronomy group looking for information on cave structure, geology and extraterrestrial caves. Some people look for deep space objects or small green people, I look for caves. I saw your name in several areas of the group and of course remembered you for introducing me to caving so long ago.
It's nice to meet you again.

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Postby Bruce Rogers » Jan 3, 2006 12:38 pm

Listeros,

In response to Phil Winkler's question about Tunnel Cave, the following is from J. Harlan Bretz's "Caves of Missouri".

"Tunnel Cave, Plusaki County, MO

Tunnel Cave completely perforates Bear Ridge which is the narrow upland traversed longitudinally by Missouri highway 17 immediately north of the Gasconade River. The cave's eastern (intake) mouth (Fig. 153) is in the bottom of a sinkhole, and its western (discharge) mouth is at the base of a cliff on the Gasconade river. The distance between the two openings is about 1,000 feet. A wet weather stream which drains about one square mile and is a torrent in wet weather enters the cave at the sinkhole. Even during a drought. one must wade deep, rock basin pools to get through the cave. Few caves show so well a young, canyon-like lower portion, cut into the bottom of a cave that was made long before the ridge it perforates was carved. 

The stream, now pirated by the sinkhole and flowing westward through the cave, formerly continued southeastward toward the Gasconade River and descended about 150 feet in a mile and a half. The cave lay approximately 75 feet (the depth of the sinkhole) beneath this stream. When the first collapsing began, a vertical drop of 75 feet was offered in lieu of the gradient of 100 feet to the mile down along the stream's valley. Accepting this, the stream shortened its route to the river by more than a mile. 

Rejuvenation of the stream above the sinkhole was inevitable. A sharply cut, little, rock-walled gorge was incised in the older valley floor. Southeast from the sink, the old valley lies empty for half a mile (Fig. 164). Beyond this, the junction of two tributaries brings in enough surface drainage to give the old valley a central, flood-wash gully which is floored with chert gravel.

Both openings to Tunnel Cave have excellent showings of spongework and walls and ceilings cavities which are unmodified on the ceilings and upper walls except by rockfall, but are greatly modified on the lower walls and bedrock floor from the abrasional effect of chert gravel carried through in flood time. The descent is about 50 feet for the length of the cave.

Tunnel Cave could hardly be improved for the purpose of convincingly demonstrating a pre-existing cave which has, by later capture of surface drainage, become a free-surface underground stream course. Peneplain remnants in the vicinity lie at about 1000 feet above sea level. The original cave-making, if it occurred during the peneplain cycle, took place more than 400 feet below the level of the peneplain eventually produced. If the cave is to be dated back only to a later, lower, and incompletely developed surface, then it was made nearly 200 feet below the overlying land surface.

Dale and Bridge (1923, p. 23) briefly described Tunnel Cave, but advanced no interpretaion."

Figure 163. Tunnel Cave, Pulaski County. Intake entrance: Spongework and ceiling pocket can be seen above the stream-cut gorge. Photograph by G. Maisse, Missouri Resources Division. (Shows large entrance with Bretz sitting on outcrop at right side of photograph. Much spongework on walls and ceiling plus a meter-deep pocket at top center. Also nicely shown are a bench about 10 feet above the rock floor and a shallow, foot-high notch just above the floor. A 10 foot+ deep canyon cuts down into the rocky, fairly smooth [smoothed by that chert gravel] floor.)

Figure 164. Abandoned valley downstream from Tunnel Cave. Photograph by G. Maisse, Missouri Resources Division. (Shows winter photograph of the wide, grassy valley with small cabin and grazing horses.)


Bretz, J.H., 1956, Caves of Missouri: Rolla, MO, Geological Survey and Water Resources Div, State of Missouri Dept. of Business and Administration, p. 424-26.

Dake, C.L., and Bridge, J, 1923, Subterranean stream piracy in the Ozarks:Rolla, MO, Univ. of Mo. School of Mines and Met. Bull., Tech. ser., v. 7, p. 3-14. 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
As was mentioned by Ethan about the articles in the NSS Missouri Convention Guidebook, the views of Bretz have been modified and the cave pushed in length since 1956 when Bretz wrote this classic book. 
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
The following is from the MO Spelol. Surv. webpage:

Tunnel-Spring Cave, Pulaski County, MO
This large, complex cave system was partially mapped by the MSM Spelunkers Club in the mid 1960's. The Club surveyed over 7,000 feet, but the map was never published or submitted to the MSS. Our resurvey began in the fall of 2001.

Tunnel Cave contains approximately 1,500 ft of large walking passage between two enormous entrances. The upstream entrance is in a deep sinkhole and takes on large volumes of water during heavy rains. Near the cave's massive downstream entrance, a side passage connects with nearby Spring Cave.

Spring Cave contains several small streams that are ponded throughout most of the cave. A good portion of Spring Cave is walking passage, though spots of deep mud and water often complicate exploration.

A wetsuit is not required, though it is recommended that mappers bring extra clothing to put on later in the trip. Travel time to the current limit of survey is approximately one-hour. Trip lengths vary but usually run in the 8-hour range.
Trips dates will be posted on the MSS Calendar.

James Corsentino
Pulaskicaver@yahoo.com
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Cheers,
Bruce Rogers, earth scientist on a good day
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Postby Phil Winkler » Jan 3, 2006 1:21 pm

Bruce,

Thanks for posting all that. It really brings back the memories.

I misplaced/lost/sold my Bretz many, many years ago, but that book was why I visited Tunnel in the first place. I think I bought my copy at the campus bookstore in Rolla. Of course, I didn't begin to understand what Bretz wrote back them when I was about 23 years old.

It is a great cave.
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Tunnel Spring Cave Pulaski County

Postby pulaskicaver » Jan 4, 2006 5:57 pm

All:

Nice to see interest in Tunnel Cave. We are close to finishing the survey of this cave (famous last words!) and the current length of the entire system is just over 2 miles. Most of this footage is in nearby Spring Cave. A line plot/topo overlay prepared by Jeff Crews (MSM) is available to the truly curious...

The cave (and photo) called DanceHall Cave on this list is most likely Roubidoux Cave--which is also located along hwy 17 [south] of TunnelSpring Cave. Roubidoux Cave is also known as Pikes Peak Cave, Kraft Cave and Indian Cave. It was commercially operated for a brief period and did have a wooden dance floor in the entrance. Some manmade structures from this time period are still visible in the entrance and near the highway. Roubidoux Cave overlooks Roubidoux Creek. The downstream entrance of Tunnel Cave overlooks the Gasconade River.



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Postby Phil Winkler » Jan 4, 2006 7:24 pm

James,

Good info. I had forgotten the Gasconade was where Tunnel Cave exited (as it were). Roubidoux/Indian was the one by the road as I recall with the large entrance and just as you were leaving town? I remember the dance hall story, too and seeing some of the old wood work still scattered around. Heck, I think there might have still been wire to see, This was back in 1969-1970, of course.

Doesn't the Roubidoux run back thru the back end of Ft Leonard Wood in the area known as Bloodland? Seems to me I tried crossing it on my Hodaka once while involved in a Roving Trials event one Sunday. Me and the bike didn't make it across. It sucked water in thru the carb and blew the cylinder off on one side.

It took me about 8 hrs to get back to Waynesville. Grrr.... I just took the bike apart, hung it on the wall of the garage with plans to repair it when I returned next year.
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Re: Tunnel Spring Cave Pulaski County

Postby PamSales » Jan 5, 2006 12:51 am

James,

I'm trying to remember how long ago it was that I went on a survey trip with you all in there (Tunnel Cave). You all aren't done with that thing yet? hehehehehe

Do I have to move back to MO to help y'all finish it? :grin:
If it's tourist season, then why can't I shoot them?
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Postby pulaskicaver » Jan 5, 2006 3:20 pm

Yes, the Roubidoux flows through the Bloodland section of FLWood. As you probably remember, the Roubidoux empties into the Gasconade at the 17 hwy bridge north of Waynesville near Indian Cave.

I've done a lot of cave surveying in the Bloodland area, especially near Dundas Ford. Very beautiful part of the county. Some of the caves there are formed along the Roubidoux Sandstone/Gasconade Dolomite contact making for some interesting passages.

The Big Piney River also flows through part of FLW. Miller Cave #1 is probably the most famous cave on that side of the base.
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