Fifty Years Under the Sinkhole Plain

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Fifty Years Under the Sinkhole Plain

Postby SinkholePlain » May 29, 2009 1:59 am

A new book that will be available around June 15-20 called ]Fifty Years Under the Sinkhole Plain by Gary Roberson NSS 9364. It is the story of the Indiana Speleological Survey, a loose nit group of NSS cavers, and the exploration of Binkleys Cave in southern Indiana. Binkleys is currently 22.7 miles in length and 21st longest in the US. The book is just over 400 pages and includes many photos, a number of maps and sketches and a small color insert section. It will be available through the NSS bookstore and Speleobooks. The caving literature doesn't currently have too much about the big stream caves found in the vast karst plains of the US. This book gives a good flavor of what sinkhole plain caving is all about.
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Re: Fifty Years Under the Sinkhole Plain

Postby Anonymous_Coward » Jun 2, 2009 9:39 am

Actually, that lower photo gives a good flavor of what sinkhole plain caving is all about!
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Re: Fifty Years Under the Sinkhole Plain

Postby Larry E. Matthews » Jun 17, 2009 10:01 am

I just got my copy in the mail yesterday and this is a really impressive book, for a variety of reasons.

One, it is MASSIVE !!! It is 402 pages long, undoubtedly the biggest, single cave book I can remember seeing, if you don't count Atlases or things of that sort. This book basically describes one large cave system.

Two, it is generously illustrated with photographs and maps. As you go through the text (which I haven't read, yet), you will be able to see the places the book describes and follow your way along on the maps. Maps include both underground passage maps and topographic overlays. Very handy!

Three, this is a long, on-going story of 50 years of exploration. It ties together years and years of exploration and generations of cavers, all working to solve this vast, undground puzzle. I was pleasantly surprised to see photos of old-time cavers, like Charlie Fort and Lewie Lamon, and other people I have known over the years.

This may be the best, most detailed history of any long-term cave exploration outside of the Mammoth Cave area. I look forward to taking the time to slowly read this book from start to finish. I may never go to these caves, but I will enjoy reading about them.

Every serious caver needs this book in their library. It will be a CLASSIC !!!

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Re: Fifty Years Under the Sinkhole Plain

Postby Danny Brass » Jun 18, 2009 9:21 am

In this fascinating tale of adventure and passion in caving, Gary Roberson offers a comprehensive account of a half-century of exploration and discovery in the longest cave system in the state of Indiana. This detailed and meticulously researched book will be of interest to all Indiana cavers and to anyone else with a penchant for pushing leads into the unknown.

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Re: Fifty Years Under the Sinkhole Plain

Postby Larry E. Matthews » Jun 25, 2009 1:17 pm

Well, I have been reading this book on my lunch breaks, and I have now finished the first ten chapters, pages 1 - 124. Very interesting so far. The story starts in 1966 and is up to 1968 on page 124.

This is EARLY caving, with carbide lamps and old rubber rafts and cotton long underwear and waders. No fancy equipment like modern cavers use. I remember it well !!! Same way we caved down here in Tennessee in the 60s. For new cavers, with all the nice equipment, this will be an eye-opener on how tough it used to be. (Well, either we were tough....or stupid !)

This is the type of cave we called a "Mud Hole" here in Tennessee. You stayed wet and in the mud all the time. You really have to be motivated to explore this type of cave, and they did. It is just great that all this history has been written down, published, and preserved.

Good job Gary !!!

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Re: Fifty Years Under the Sinkhole Plain

Postby LindaKYTeacher » Jun 27, 2009 6:22 pm

Hi, Larry:

I read your comment about Charlie Fort and was interested to know whether or not you caved with his friend, Bill Lawson (I'm his daughter). I'm interested in documenting several stories about his caving adventures with Charlie to keep as family momentos for his grandchildren. I'd appreciate hearing back from you.

Thanks,

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Re: Fifty Years Under the Sinkhole Plain

Postby wyandottecaver » Jul 1, 2009 6:18 pm

Just finished the book after picking it up Sat. What the book lacks in proofreading, it far makes up for in mass of detail and enthusiasim. I can't imagine anyone reading the whole book and NOT being excited about "doing work" in Binkly's. Of course a few trips in a classic sinkhole plain cave might cure you. I was particularly struck that contrary to the habits of many project cavers involved with an active project, many of the current "hot" leads in the system are right there in print just begging (literally) for ambitious cavers to exploit them. With well over a thousand (maybe 2) feet of virgin cave in just the last several months maybe Gary is trying to make sure we don't procrastinate and get us working before hardcore cavers start "stopping off" on their way to and from Convention. :tonguecheek:

Over all a good book and I think it's major accomplishment is that 50 years from now the questions about history, survey, mindset, decision-making, and personal histories associated with this major system will still be there for cavers to read....assuming all our softbound books aren't worn to tatters from use!
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Re: Fifty Years Under the Sinkhole Plain

Postby Larry E. Matthews » Jul 24, 2009 3:47 pm

Well, I'm up to page 178 now. This book just gets better and better the more of it I read.

I just finished reading the section describing the commercial development of Squire Boone Caverns and now I am starting the section on the purchase of Marengo Caverns by the local Indiana cavers. This is just a fascinating story.

I have known quite a few of the people involved in this story, but since they were in Indiana and I was in Tennessee, I never heard all these interesting details of all this cave exploration and cave development. These are people you meet at Conventions, like, and maybe do a little caving with, but you rarely get to hear the details of all their exploits. Well, now you can read them in this wonderful book.

I've still got over 200 pages to go and look forward to reading every page.

My only criticism is that this book does not have an Index at the end. If and when it is reprinted, an Index should be added.

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Re: Fifty Years Under the Sinkhole Plain

Postby wyandottecaver » Jul 25, 2009 9:13 am

Just a FYI

since publication of the book some of the leads mentioned have been pushed and 1 has led to an entirely new section of cave with over 3000' of new survey and with the current survey stopping in true borehole passage! Now there is the incentive I need for a diet :big grin:
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Re: Fifty Years Under the Sinkhole Plain

Postby Larry E. Matthews » Aug 13, 2009 3:23 pm

Well, I just finished reading this book. It was great !!! I am just sad that I have finished it and there is no more to read.

It is a wonderful story of perseverence and determination. You will be hard pressed to find another group that has worked so long under such difficult caving conditions. Bravo !!!

Just a great story.

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P.S. Books like this are never printed in very large quantities. If you want a copy, I suggest you order now. It is available from the NSS Bookstore.
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Re: Fifty Years Under the Sinkhole Plain

Postby tony brown » Sep 28, 2009 1:15 am

Congradulations Gary, this is an awesome book. I appreciated the way it was written, the details of the caves, and the history of some area caves. I believe you captured the Binkley experience very well, the excitement, disappiontment, the extremes of the size, constantly changing conditions--slimy, nasty, extremely wet and cold (exspecially in the Bealz area). I believe it is a must read for any caver, hopefully there will be a second printing, that would include an index and more information on Southern Indiana Caves with maps, locations, and contacts.
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Re: Fifty Years Under the Sinkhole Plain

Postby wyandottecaver » Sep 28, 2009 4:32 pm

I'm sure there will be a 2nd printing...someday...by somebody....given the amount of new work going on. Im also sure that there wont be any locations or contacts and its highly unlikely any other caves would be addressed unless they relate to the Binkly system. It is generally considered bad form to make cave locations, or landowner contacts public and most cave maps generally remain the property of those who drew them.
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Re: Fifty Years Under the Sinkhole Plain

Postby wyandottecaver » Oct 7, 2009 4:08 pm

For those of you who read about Blowing Hole Cave and the suspected upstream continuation....its no longer suspected :banana_yay:
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Re: Fifty Years Under the Sinkhole Plain

Postby Cody JW » Oct 8, 2009 6:20 pm

tony brown wrote:Congradulations Gary, this is an awesome book. I appreciated the way it was written, the details of the caves, and the history of some area caves. I believe you captured the Binkley experience very well, the excitement, disappiontment, the extremes of the size, constantly changing conditions--slimy, nasty, extremely wet and cold (exspecially in the Bealz area). I believe it is a must read for any caver, hopefully there will be a second printing, that would include an index and more information on Southern Indiana Caves with maps, locations, and contacts.
I agree, I got mine a couple weeks ago and have only read a couple chapters so far. I have been on a few tourist trips to binkleys, this makes it easy to relate to.Gary did a great job,a must read for any Indiana caver.
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Re: Fifty Years Under the Sinkhole Plain

Postby wyandottecaver » Oct 27, 2009 4:59 pm

a few thousand feet of survey (mostly virgin walking borehole) in the newly discovered upstream blowing hole and no signs of stopping yet. We didn't even look in the side leads. Potential for a LOT of new cave is very good. If you are near Southern IN, and interested I can hook you up with the project leaders to discuss participation.
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