The Early Years 1947-1961

As written by W.S. Hill Eleanor Borden, and Robert Dickson in 1962 in celebration of the grotto’s 15th anniversity


The history of Philadelphia Grotto stands recorded in many different forms. Among these forms are the minutes of its regular monthly meetings and of its Board meetings, accounts of field trips and other Grotto matters published in the NSS NEWS, articles in the NSS BULLETINS, Newspapers articles, Correspondence and Myriads of photographs. In compiling this history all of these sources have been consulted to the extent that the historian has been able to do so. But in the main, the material has come from meeting minutes and the NSS NEWS. SomeiImportant information will no doubt be omitted because it was not properly recorded, and other items will be inaccurate for the same reason. The historian regrets having omitted anything which should have been included and apologizes for oversights.
The plan of presentation following this introduction is as follows:
Section 1. Founding of the Grotto,
Territory of operation and purpose.

Section 2. Running accounts of highlighs during each year, Including caves visited, special meeting programs, important resolutions, and brief mentions of important activities.

Section 3. Detailed accounts of special projects and activities.

Section 4. Membership list.

Section 5. Acknowledgements.

The major part of this history is presented in chronological form, each year being considered a separate chapter, so to speak, so the entire story rewritten and revised at intervals.

During the first fourteen years of its existence, some outstanding facts emerge from the background which can aid in appreciating and better understanding the accounts as it is presented in the following sections. One of these is that the Grotto has shown unusal stability. After fourteen years of operation, it still has about as many active menbers as it had in its younger and most enthusiastic days. A few of its charter menbers are still active in its affairs.

Another fact is that it has always has a rather high proportion of members who cannot be termed “youthful ” in years, which is unexpected considering that caving is an active sport. This has probably contributed heavily to its stability.

The influence the Grotto has had on the national society and on caving in general is due mainly to the achievements of its menbers as individuals rather then to the carrying out of groups projects. To the national society it has contributed one presdient (and a second presidentwho was a member of the Grotto during parts of his term), Four vice-presidents, a long list of Board members and an equally long list of chairmen of important committes. The relativity small numbers of important groups projects is due, at least in part, to the fact that ts members are scattered over a large geographical area and are therefore difficult to assemble. And another factor in the situation is very fact that many of its able members have been so occupied with their duties as national officers, ect., that they had little or no time left to devote to activities of their local group.

Still another fact which is plainly evident is that its meetings and other activities other than field work have assumed a relatively prominemt position in its total cativity. Again, its membership makeup partially explains this, but another factor is that the area easily accessible to its menbers for one-day trips is not overabundant in caves and that the ones most frequently visited are relatively small. Furthermore, the region is so heavily populated and completely mapped and explored that the likelihood of finding many new caves is almost non-existent. This scarcity of caves in eastern Pennsylvania led a national officer to predict, at about the time the Grotto was founded, that the group would be short-lived. The Grotto has now at least proven that you don’t need caves to have a caving society.

Section 1



Just prior to the time the Philadelphia Grotto was founded, there were six NSS members living in the Philadelphia area. These were W. S.Hill, Robert Lewis,Charles Mohr, Wm. Nixon, Richard Ryan and Robert Sutcliffe. Since five was the magic number needed to form a Grotto according to the then existing NSS by-laws, this group knew that at least, numerical requirements couls be met eve without recruiting. A Grotto was possible. But Charles Mohr, then Vice-President of the national society and Director of Education at the Philadelphia’s Academy of Natural Sciences,was confident that a number of others could be inducted to join. Furthermore, Robert Lweis had been caving for some time with his friends and had been needling Mohr occasionally to get something started. The moving of the writer of this history from the active Richmond, VA., area to South Jersey and his discussing the matter with Mohr also probably contributed to getting the matter jelled.

Mohr proposed to get things moving by running one of the Academy’s “expeditions for Everyone” as a trip to commerical Crystal Cave, near Kutztown, Pa., and , after visiting the commercial caves,to give all who wanted some dirtier caving, an opportunity to follow himto Schofer’s cave, a few miles distance from Crystal. It would be announced on this trip anyone intersted in joining an organized caving group could attend an organization meeting later to be held at the Academy. The date of the “expedition” was set as Sunday, November 10, 1946

The “expedition” to Crystal and Schofer’s was a complete success. An entire busload and several additional carloads of people, about 50 in all, made the trip to Crystal Cave and about 20 from this party continued on to Schofers’s where they joined another party led by Bob Lewis.

Sophisticated as we now are about proper attire for caving and our insistance on hard hats and proper lights, that group to us would now present a strange sight. Outside of Mohr and those who had arrived with Bob Lewis, there was almost a complete absence of hard headgear. Some were wearing plastic raingear over ordinary streetwear. Others just had on old shirts or blouses, or sweaters and old trousers or slacks as outergarments. Footgear ranged from hip-boots to street oxfords. Light ran in about the same vein, flashlights, including the small pencil variety, and candles. And again with the exception of Bob Lewis’s group and other NSS members, nobody knew what to expect inside that dark hole and several were prepared for the worst. The gentleman with hip-boots had a large ball of string which he carefully unwound as he huffed and puffed his way through the narrow crawlway that is the entrance to Schofer’s main innards.

Most of those people on that first trip to Schofer’s were indeed “green” as cavers, but they were all good sports and quite a number later joined up when the group was formally organized.

The next step toward organizing the Grotto was a meeting called by Charles Mohr at the Academy of Natural Sciences, Nov, 22, 1946. All who expressed an interest in becoming cavers and in organizing an NSS Grotto were invited to attend. At this meeting, the purposes and activities of the NSS were explained and slides were shown by Mohr, not only of Pennsylvania caves, but some from Mexico as well. At this meeting it was decided to formally organize and the orgization meeting was called for Jan, 10, 1947, at the Academy. Six of those present at this pre-organization meeting filled out NSS applicaton blanks and a good nucleus was assured.

The organization meeting took place at the Academy on January 10th as planned. There were 17 members, or those who had applied for membership, and 3 guests, in attendance. At the meeting, the group selected as its name “The Philadelphia Grotto”, Took as its territory “The Philadelphia area”, elected an executive, named officers and settled on a regular metting night and place of meetings. The first executive committee was: Hill, Lewis, Ralph Lutz, Mohr and Nixon. Officers were: Chairman, Bob Lewis; Secetary, Margaret Loye; and Treasurer, Eleanor Borden. Meetings were to be held at the academy the first Thursday of the month. The group has kept the same meeting night during the entire 14 years (except for temporary changes) and remained at the Academy all but a couple of years.

Principal territory of opration of the Grotto has always been the southeast counties of Pennsylvania about as far west as Harrisburg and the Cumberland valley. Of course, many field trips have also been taken beyond this area. Grotto members are drawn from within a radius of about 50 miles from the center of Philadelphia with a few even beyond this limit. Most active members have been residents of Pennsylvania with a few from New Jersey and Delaware. In fact, at times there have been more than a few from New Jersey. For some years quite strong nucleus of cavers existed in the Trenton, N.J. aera.

The purposes of the newly organized group were simply those of the national society with particlar attention to exploring and studying the caves of Pennsylvania

Section 2


The first regular meeting of the Grotto was held Jan 19, 1947, at the Academy of Natural Sciences with 20 people present. Of these, 17 either were NSS members already or would later become members.

During its first year the Grotto lost its chief organizer. Charles Mohr moved to Greenwich, Conn., to become Director of the Audubon Nature Center there. James Fowler, another NSS member, replaced him as director of Education at the Academy. During that first year, Hill also resigned from the Executive Committee and was replaced by Oscar J. Gossett.

Money was raised by collecting 10 cents from each member present at each meeting since it was believed that the NSS by-law prohibited the assessment of annual dues. Additional funds were obtained by collecting field trips charges.

Regularly sponsored field trips were scheduled at one per-month although many additional field trips were conducted on an informal basis by small groups. Caves officially visited during the first year were: Kookens, Schofer’s, Onyx (commercial), South Temple, Reese’s, Baker’s Cavern (commercial), Pinnacle, Tuckerton and Wind. One of the first regularly sponsored trips was to Koonen’s. It was well attended with 17 members and 7 guest.

During the year a Grotto scrapbook was begun with a book presented by Alice Sutcliffe. Some good publicity was obtained when Jerome M. Ludlow appered August 6th on Trenton’s radio station WTTM, the Mary and Davy Program. An article telling of the grotto’s activities appeared in the “Philadelphia Bulletin”.

Grotto meetings during that first year set a pattern that was to be pretty closely followed for many years to come. Meetings were held on the first Thursday of the month. These were usually divided into a rather lengthy business and a program of entertainment or instruction. The Program sometimes was merely the showing of cave slides by anyone who had some to present. Sometimes a talk was scheduled on some aspect of caving. After the meeting, many of the group adjourned to a local Horn and Hardart Restaurant for a more informal type of fellowship. Attendance increased repidly during the year to reach a maxium of 43 in August. Of this number, however, 25 were guest.

Since the year of its founding, Philadelphia Grotto has been characterized by contributing an unusally high percentage of its members to important activities of the national society. During this first year Charles Mohr was NSS Vice-President, James Fowler and Bill Hill were members of the Board of Governors, Hill was also Editor of the NSS NEWS LETTER. Mohr and Hill also served on the NSS Editorial Board.

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Chairman – Robert Lewis
Secretary – Margaret Loye
Treasurer – Eleanor Borden
Board members – John D, Parker, Jerome Ludlow, O.J. Gossett and Charles Zensen

The most important decision made during this year probably is that of setting regular annual dues of $2 with a special rate to full time students of $1. This at once placed the group on a fimer financial footing which it has held to the present day.

Many successful fields trips were held during the year. One of the most interesting of these was to the old abandoned Durham Iron Mine near the town of Durham in Lehigh County. Dr Harold Hitchcock, a member of the faculty of Middlebury College’s Biology Dept. had asked aid in banding bats in the mine and in capturing bats to look for bands previously put on by himself and Charles Mohr. Some 1300 bats were seen on this occasion. As many as possible were captured, Catalogued and banded if they did not have a band already. Charles mohr found three of the bats he had banded 8 years previously and 39 od a group of 985he had banded in 1942. Mohr has found six different species of bats at this location over an 8 year period.

Another interesting trip was a joint venture of Philadelphia Grotto with D.C. and Pittsburgh Grottoes to several western Pennsylvania caves. These were Kooken’s Warrior Ridge, Arch Spring (now re-named Ty-Toona) and Lincoln Caverns. The latter two were commercial caves.

Among the most iteresting meetings programs of the year were John Meenehan’s (D.C. Grooto) talk on cave safty and parker’s carefully prepared illustrated talk on this same subject.

During 1948 an Important project was begun that has contiued for many years. This was taking over the complete job of getting out the NSS NEWS. It was in January of 1948 that the Grotto began its long continued job of editing the NEWS and getting it mailed. A detailed stroy of this project will be found in the section entitled “Special Projects”.
Another project during this year was the sponsoring of one on a series of natural science lectures, on caves, at the Academy of natural Sciences. Jack Parker was mainly responsible for this. Parker also led in another project which later served as the basic for an NSS Safty Program. Parker and others worked up a number of rescue procedures and first aid techniques particulary adapted to caves.

NSS Positions Held

Charles Mohr – Editor of NSS Bulletin 10, Chairman of publications comm.
Jerome Ludlow – Editor of NSS Bulletin 11 and many succeeding ones, Chairman of the Hydrology comm.
James Fowler – Board of Goernors, Chairman of cave Biology Comm.
Hill – Board of Governors
Lewis, Gossett and Zensen – NEWS Staff

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Chairman – Robert Lewis
Secertary – Margaret Loye
Treasurer – Eleanor Borden
Board members – Jack Parker, Jerome Ludlow, O. J. Gossett and Charles Zensen

This year saw the beginning of an interesting cycle of activities that was to continue for the next several years – that of participating in the gigantic Sportmen’s shows of New York and Philadelphia. Ernest Ackerly and some other Met Grotto menbers were struck with the idea that an NSS booth at the annual National Sportsmen’s Show at Grand Central Place would attract a lot of attention and perhaps result in signing many new NSS members. And, since at that time Met Grotto had few members, it was natural that they should send out a call for help in their effort to their Philadelphia friends. Our Grotto responded by sending several members to New York to man the booth and help set it up and dismantle it after the show was over.

There is no doubt about the NSS booth being a big hit. And the stars were a cage full of bats. The antics of the bats drew a constant crowd of onlookers and when somebody opened the cage and the bats got out and swooped all over the “Palace” it simply provided the crowning touch. Newspapers carried nationally synicated stories. Two hundred people signed up for further information about the society.

Our own grotto derived one very tangible benifit from its efforts. We got John Spence as a member of our own Grotto even if he did live in Brooklyn
Field trips

Lost Cave (commercial) Mystic (W. VA)
Schofer’s (Pa) Lisburn (Pa)
Elk Horn Mtn. (W.VA)
Aitkin’s Cave (Pa) Carpenter’s Cave (Pa)
The trip to Mystic Cave was the first of many such affairs at thebeginning of a long-continued acquaintance with the hospitable Rai Family, owners of the land on which Mystic cave’s entrance are located.

Two expeditions this year were digging expeditions. Periodiocally, somebody has whipped up enthusiasm to get out the pick and shovel brigade in the hopes of “opening up a new one”. This year, the digging was at a quarry near Mt. Joy, Pa, and also in a sink near Portland, N.J. Neither effort could be said to have produced much except blisters and sore muscles.

Two especially noteworthy meetings programs this year were a talk by Sam Dunton, Official Photographer of the New Youk Zoological Society, on Cueva Chica, Mexico, and a talk by G. Chaterji on caves of India. Mr. Chaterji was working with Jerome Ludlow, at the time , in the U.S. Geological Survey.

There were other noteworthy event of the year. The Grotto donated a number of color slides to the national files. Parker and Gossett offered to Donate their time in making up these slides and then Grotto paid for the materials. Another event was Parker’s talk “Wonders Underground”. Parker’s finally report on cave safty, which led to the adoption of an NSS Safty Code is also worthy of mention.

NSS Positions held

Jerome Ludlow – editor of the NSS Bullentin, Chairman of the Hydrolgy Comm. , Member of the Publications Comm.
Parker – Chairman of the Safty Comm.
Hill – Chairman of the Nominations comm.

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Chairman – Robert Lewis
Secretary – Margaret Loye
Treasurer – Ellen Pietsch
Board members- Jack Parker, Jerome Ludlow,
Charles Crutchfield and Charles
Inspired by Met Grotto’s success at the National Sportsmen’s Show in New York the previous year, Philadelphia Grotto decided to have a booth at the Phildelphia Motorboat and Sportsmen’s Show at Convention Hall. Jack Parker and Charles Crutchfield were in charge of the exhibit with many members being present at various intervals to man the booth and otherwise help out. The Exhibit included a display of photos and examples of clothing and other articles used by cavers. Some of the same material which had been on display at the New York show was included.

The main purpose of the exhibit was to interest new members in the Grotto. This could hardly be said to have been achieved since only one new member directly attributable to the show was finally signed up. However, the united effort did provide a lot of fun and interesting activity.

Probably the most important event of the year for the Grotto was the biggining of the Schofer cave project. Carl Gaum was the director of this important scientific project for the study of himidity, Temperature and water level changes, principally in the caves, although it also extended to other areas. A more complete story of this project will be found in the section “Special Projects”.

Another event that proved of great interest was the Grotto’s participation in the NSS Annual Convention in Washington, D.C., March 29 – April 2. Grotto participation in this convention was more complete than it has been before or since. There were four Philadelphia Grotto exhibits. Bob Lewis put on a cave clothing exhibit from Levi Straus Co. Margaret Loye prepared a special exhibit for the NSS NEWS. Ellen Pietsch had an exhibit of her pottery. Jerome Ludlow exhibited publicit Material. The Grotto also staged a big party extending into the small morning hours after the schedual convention events were over.

Another Item of special interest that occurred during this year was John Spence’s donation of a 300 ft. section of DeJoly Ladder to the Grotto – a truly magnificent contribution.

A meeting program of particular interest this year was the showing of a motion picture depicting a U.S. Army training program on mountain climbing.

Field trips

South Temple Lisburn Snively (Md.)
Dreibilbis Crystal Pit Moler’s (W.VA.)
Aitkin’s Emmig’s
Head of Mill Pond (W.VA) Refton
Alexander (Commercial)
Grapevine (W.VA) Whiting’s Neck (W,VA)
NSS Positions held

Charles Mohr – President of the NSS, Chairman of Publications comm.
Fowler – Board of governors, chairman of Biology Comm.
Ludlow – Board of Governors, Editor of Bulletin 11
Gaum – Chairman of Hydrology Comm.
Parker – Chairman of Safty Comm., Member of Editorial Board of Bulletin111

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Chairman – Jack Parker
Secretary – Ruth Boyer (Jan-Aug.) , Charles Crutchfield (Sept. – Dec.)
Treasurer – llen Pietsch
Board Members- Flower, Carl Gaum and Znsen

An improtant project during this year was the participation by several Grotto Members in a Geology course run by the Academy. The course comprised a series of 10 lectures with two extra lectures on caves. The entired course was recorded on tape and illustrated with about 350 slides. Jack Parker, Carl Gaum and Rudolph Gaum took part. Other lecturers on the program were from the U.S. Geological Survey and the New Jersey Geological Survey.

Another project begun during this year was a study of New Jersey Caves led by Jerome Ludlow.

Also, this year, the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science was held in Philadelphia during December. The Geology section meeting included talks on caves by NSS members and the Grotto entertained with refreshments after this section meeting,

Meeting programs this year rose to new levels of interest with Carl Gaum giving a talk on our Schofer cave Project, Bob Lipman giving a talk on Knot-tying, Jack Parker delivering a talk on cave mapping and Jerry Bloch introducing the Grotto to the latest in climbing techniques.

Grotto Board meeting were held at Ewart’s Restaurant.
Field trips

Carpenter’s Helfrich’s Kooken’s
Siler’s (Md) Shofer’s Aitkin
Arch Spring Whiting’s neck (W.VA)
Dragon Rupert’s Tippery
Dreibilbis Seawra
Lincoln Cavern Commercial
Guthsville Taylor’s Carnegie
Huber Coy’s Hershey’s
Piper’s and Wind Caves
Climbing trips – Ralph Stovers State Park
NSS Positions held

Charles Mohr – President of the NSS
Ludlow – Board of Governors, Vice-Pres. For Publications, editor of Bulletin
Fowler – Board of Governors
Carl Gaum – Chairman of Hydrology Commission.
Hill – Board of Governors

1 9 5 2

Chairman – Carl Gaum (succeeded by Rudolph Gaum)
Vice-Chairman – Robert Lipman
Secretary – Molly Pearsall
Treasurer – Ellen Pietsch
Board members- Charles Crutchfield, Robert Lewis and Jack Parker

An important special project was the continuing of a series of science courses which had begun in 1951. These courses were planned and coordinated by Jack Parker under the direction of Jim Fowler, Director of education at the academy of natural Sciences. The Spring course was devoted to invertebrate animals and the fall series dealtwith historic geology and Paleontology.

Important Meeting Programs

The farmer looks at the caver – Bob Lipman
Cave Photography – Jack Parker
Ice Caves of Germany – Clare Bayer
Engineering Aspects of Caving – Carl Gaum
Minerals – Charles Crutchfield
Radio – Carbon Dating – Charles Crutchfield

Field Trips

Schofer’s Dreibilis Blow Hole ( W. VA.)
Carpenter’s Reddington Mystic
Reichard’s Carnegie Schoolhouse
Arnold’s Cleversburg Sink Seawra

NSS Positions held

Jerome Ludlow -V.P. for publications, Editor of Bulletin
James Fowler – Board of Governors
W. Hill – Board of Governors

1 9 5 3

Chairman – Charles Crutchfield
Secretary – Molly Pearsall

During this year one of the chief activities was to continue to sponsor the science course at the academy of Natural Sciences. Parker and Crutchfield had charge of the project.

NSS positions held

Ludlow – Editor of “The American Caver” and “Occasional Papers” and V.P. for publications
J. Lawrence – V.P. for Organization
Parker – Safety Chairman *MAR Board Rep., Chairman of MAR Constitution Commission
Fowler – Board of Governors
Hill – Board of Governors
Lipman – Vice-cahirman of MAR
*Mar – Mid Appalachian Region of the NSS

1 9 5 4

Chairman – Samuel Davis
Vice Chairman – Ulysses Lutz
Secertary – Audrey Blankesley
Treasurer – Norma Lipman
NSS Positions Held

Parker – National Safety Chairman, Convention Chairman, Mar Board Rep.
Lawrence – Leader of Floyd Collins Crystal Cave Expedition, V.P.For Organization, Chairman of Grotto Congress
Fowler – Chairman of Biology Committee, Board of Governors
Ludlow – Editor of ” Bulletin” and ” Occasional Papers”, V.P. for Publications
Hill – Board of Governors, Chairman of Nominations Committee
Audrey Blakesley – Crystal Cave Expidition
Carl Gaum – Chairman of Geophysics Committee
Charles Crutchfield – Chairman of Chemistry Committee

1 9 5 5

Chairman – Carl Gaum
Vice-chairman – Jerry Bloch
Seceretary – Audrey (Blakesley) Wels
Board Members Molly pearsall and Robert Lipman
Parker – Chairman of Program Committee

Thie year was one of the most active in the history of the Grotto so far as project activity was concerned. A course in spleology was organized and met on Thursday evening beginning March 17. Topics were, Zoology, Cave Photography, Geology, Paleontology. Mineralogy, Ecology, Hydrology, Formation of Cavern, Firs Aid, and Mapping. Class instructors were : Charles mohr, John Spence, Isa Sawtelle, Carl Gaum,Charles Crutchfiled and Jack Parker. There were 18 enrollees.

As an aftermath of the famous C-3 expedition into Floyd Collin Crystal Caves, Sam Davis, Joe Lawrence and Jerry Bloch helped in further reconaissance in Flint Ridge, Ky. Joe Lawrence was co-author of the NSS Sponsored book, :The Caves Beyond”, which told the story of the C-3 expedition.

Several Grotto members participated in a work trip to dig out fossils at Cumberland Bone Cave, Cumberland, Md. Brother Nicholas was in charge of the project.

Many members shared editorial reading and criticizing of the manuscript for Grotto member Frank Folsom’s book “Exploring American Caves”. The publisher commended our group for its useful assist and the Grotto treasury was enriched by $150.

Two equipment displays were conducted during this year. One of these was to advertise “The Caves Beyond” and was put on by our Trenton Group led by Jerome Ludlow. The other was at the philadelphia Public Library and was staged by Jack Parker.

The Grotto revised its By-laws. Sam Davis was Chairman of the revision committee. And our celebrated its 100th meeting with a party. Finally, we paid half the expenses of putting a door and a lock on Carpenter’s Cave.
Field trips

Mt. Joy Wind Breakneck Ridge (N.Y.)
Blue Spring Aughenbaugh’s Carpenter’s
Schofer’s Dragon Dreibilbis S. Temple Milheim Sharer’s Noll’s Pinnacle Mummau’s

NSS positions held

Ludlow – V.P. for Publications
Lawrence, Parker and George Jackson -Board of Governors
Sam Davis – Chairman of Nominations Committees
Parker – Chairman of Visual Aids and Safety Committees
Carl Gaum, Jerry Bloch – Delegates to MAR
Hill – Secertary-Treasurer of MAR

1 9 5 6

Chairman – Joe Lawrence
Vice-chairman – Jerry Bloch
Seceretary – Nancy Sylvanus
Treasurer – Lou Lutz
Board Members – Molly Pearsall, Sam Davis and Carl Gaum

This year marked a significant change in the conduct of Grotto meetings. The major part of eash meeting was to be planned program of entertainment or instruction. Most buiness was relegated to sperate Board meetings. With the meetings freed of tiring business routine, they took on fresh interest.

Meeting Programs

Wyandotte Cave – George Jackson
Climbing – Lou Lutz
Problems of
mining in Hungary – Nicholas
Skin Diving in Caves – Robert Davies
Venezuelan Caves – Jeanne and
Russell Gurnee

Field trips

S, Temple Schofer’s Newberry-Bains (Va.)
Carpenter’s Cleversburg Sink
Schoolhouse (W. Va) Dreibilbis
Nail’s Breakneck Ridge (N.Y)

NSS Positions held

Parker – Chairman of Special
Committee to consider
plans for reorganizing
Board of Governors;
V.P. for Administration
Jackson – V.P. for Publications and
assoc. ed., of “Bulletin”
and Ludlow – Board of Governors
Sam Davis – Chairman of Nominations

Special Notes:

The Grotto did a national good deed by contributing $25 to the cost of continuing Flint Ridge Project.

Our group was saddened by the passing of Charles Zensen who had been active member of the group form its earliest days. Generous goodhearted and full of fun, an incurable practical joker, but ready to pitch in and help anywhere, Charley was greatly missed.

1 9 5 7

Chairman – Joe Lawrence
Vice-Chairman – Hill
Secretary – Nancy Sylvanus
Treasurer – Lou Lutz
Board Members- Molly Dickson, Robert
Davies, Sam Davis

Meeting Programs

Climbing – Jerry Bloch
Geology of
Pennsylvania – Dr Meyers (Moravain
“Caves of Pierre Ste. Martin” (movie)
Climbing the Grand Tetons – R. Davies
Carlsbad Caverns – Brother Nicholas
Cave Quiz Program

Field trips

Welsh Run Carpenter’s Mystic (W.Va.)
Carnegie Kooken’s Schoolhouse (W.Va)
Hershey’s Cleversburg Sink
Sinnett (W.Va) Devil’s den Whitings neck (W.Va)
Breakneck Ridge (N.Y.)

NSS Positions held

G. Jackson – V.P. for Publications
Hill – Chairman of Editorial
Advisory Committee

1 9 5 8

Chairman – Dr, R. Davies
Vice-chairman – Sam Davis
Secretary – Nancy Sylvanus
Treasurer – Lou lutz
Board members – Lawrence, Laessig and

After spending its entired life to this time at the Academy of natural Sciences on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, The grotto voted to move to La Salle College. Reason for the move was the announced increase in our rent from $4 to $5. Brother Nicholas kindly obtained a room for us at the College reant free. So – We moved, not without regret and some misgivings.

Meeting Programs

Origin and Growth of
Rimstone Pools – Hill
Cave Photography – Heinrichs
Cave Photography – Parker
Climbing the Matterhorn – Davies
“The Devil’s Sinkhole” – (Movie)
“Spelunking” – (movie)
Lescaux Cave abd International
Speleogical Convention in Italy – Gurnes

Field Trips

Carpenter’s Carnegie Organ-Hedricks
Peiper’s Dreibilbis Mystic (W.Va)
S. Temple Kooken’s Breakneck Ridge
West York

NSS Positions held

Lawrence – Chairman of the Directorate and MAR representative
G. Jackson – V.P. for Publications
Brother Nicholas – President of the NSS
Parker – Safety Chairman
Davis – MAR Representative
Hill – Chairman of Grotto Publications Contest

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Chairman – Hill
Vice-Chairman – Dickson
Secretary – Sylvanus
Treasurer – Lutz
Board Members Davies, Davis and C, Crutchfield
(Succeded by G. Jackson)
Norma Jackson – Chairman of Refreshment Committee
Lou Lutz – Property Custodian


Principal project of the year was acting as host to the annual Mid Appalachian Region Meeting. This Meeting was held at Caledonia State Park (Pa,) with many caves of the nearby area visited, Cleversburg Sink with the water levels at a fortunate low, was the caving attraction of the weekend. The meeting was the best attended of any MAR meetings to date.

Meeting Programs

Kooken’s Cave – (Various contributors)
Indiana Caves – G, Jackson
NSS prepared slide program on cave near
Auburn, Texas
Climbing and Safety – Lutz and Bloch
Cave Animal life – Sloane
Cave life – Mohr
Goatemala Caverns – Jeanne and
Russell Gurnee

Field trips

Wind S. Temple Peapack (N.J.)
Nails #2 Bootlegger’s Sink Organ-Hedricks
Cleversburg Sink Peiper’s Bottomless Ladder Hershey’s Huber Coy’s Breakneck Ridge Carnegie Schofer’s
Dragon Seawra Aitkin

NSS Positions held

Sloan – Chairman of Photo-Salon and Trustees
Hill – MAR Representative to NSS Board
Lawrence – Board of Governors
Brother Nicholas – President of NSS

This year the Grotto was the fortunate recipient of a large length of Nylon Rope donated by Jerome Ludlow.

In April of this year the Grotto made its second move. This time the move took us back to the central part of the city to 1520 Race Street. With the return to the central location the meeting attendance came back up to level of the years at the Academy. It was also possible to meet at a nearby restaurant. The woman members of the group rotated in getting together and serving the refreshments.

During this year we were also pleased to welcome back Charles Mohr, One of the Founders of the Grotto. Mr Mohr returned to become Director of Swiss Pines Conservation Area.

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Chairman – Wm. Murphy Secretary – Elizabeth Witt
Vice-Chairman – Robert Dickson Treasurer – Lou Lutz
Board Members George and Norma Jackson and Hill
Chairman of Grotto Equipment and Safty – Lutz
Chairman of Refreshment Committee – Norma Jackson
Chairman of Historical Committee – Hill


A Noteworthy project carried out during this year was the remounting of a NNS Photo Salon prints for the NSS. George Jackson directed this effort.

The Grotto also contributed $10 toward the restoration and Transferal of 16mm. film of the historic Russell T. Nevill movie film of cave exploration. When completed, this film will be a valuable addition to the NSS Archivies and available for circulation among thr Grottoes.

Another noteworthy event of the year was the Grotto move back to the Academy of Natural Sciences for its regular meetings.

And we are not forgetting the Hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Murphy who were our hosts at the annual picinic in August.

Meeting Programs

Mystery Falls Cave, Tenn. – Chattanooga Grotto
Cass Cave (NSS Library) Slides and taped comments
Russell Cave (NSS Library) Slides and taped comments
“Speleothems” (NSS Library) Slides and taped comments collected by
George Moore
“Cave Breakdown” – Parker
Floyd Collins Crystal Cave – Joe Lawrence
Rockclimbing Techniques – Bloch
Contest – Short Cave Subjects

Field Trips

Carpenter’s Peiper’s Grapevine (W.VA)
Refton Stroudt’s Bridge
Whiting’s (W.VA) Wind MT. Joy Moler’s (W.VA) Ohnmacht Durham Mine Breathing (VA) Butler (Va) Leigh (N. J.) Rhodes ( N.Y.)

NSS positions held

Lawrence – Chairman of Governors
Sloane – Chairman of Photo Salon, Trustees
Brother Nicholas – President of NSS

Section 3

Special Projects


The Philadelphia Grotto took over the complete job of getting out the NSS NEWS in January 1948. In 1947 it had been decided to advance the publication from its then mimeographed form to printed format. Our Grotto offered to take over the mailing job. Bob Lewis, Grotto Chairman, was the one most instrumental in organizing the effort.

First issue in its new printed form was January, 1948. That first issue was done by photo-ofset printing and posed many difficulties in make – up. To keep the cost as low as possible, Bob Lewis sought a typist good enough to prepare copy meeting our exacting standarts. He happend upon Strayer’s Business College and was befriended by Mrs. Strayer. That kindly lady had the entired issue suitable type for us at no cost to the NSS. Moreover, she offered us a large room at her school to do the mailing.

Making up the dummy so that printing plates could be made also proved to be a sizable task. Again, Bob Lewis assumed responsibility and he, aided by Jim Gossett, and Charles Zensen, sat up nearly all one night doing the job.

After the issue was printed, a large part of the grotto membership met at Strayer’s to prepare the issue for mailing. This part of the job included folding each copy, affixing an address lable to each and then collating into bundles by cities and states for second mailing. It was quite a job but it was fun, too.

After that first issue, the editor, Bill Hill, decided that the make- up job had to be simplified, so the composition and printing were changed. Linotype composistion and letter press printing were adoted.

At the end of the 1948, because of job-alignments, Bob Lewis was appointed Business Manager and Jim Gossett was named Circulation Manager. Later, when Jim Gossett had moved away, Charles Zensen was named Circulation Manager. After the January 1948 issue, No further assistance was needed by the Editor for typing or make-up.

Bob Lewis continued as Business Manager until Decenber, 1952. At that time Sam Davis took over the job which he still holds (July,1961). Ellen Pietsch and Margaret Love served as staff artists. Howard Sloane, later to become a Philadelphia Grotto member, served as Advertising Representative for a number of years.

The mailing group met at Strayer’s for several years then moved to Albert Ledward’s Apartment. Finally, in 1953, the mailing job was taken over by the members living around Trenton, N.J. For several more years the mailing porject continued as a group effort with the mailing meetings being held at verious members homes. Ultimately, However, the need for mailing meeting ceased due to a new addressing system and Sam and Ethel Davis took over the entire job of addressing and mailing.

A large part of the Grotto membership took part in the project at one time or another. Besides those previously mention, we have recorded the names of the following Grotto members at mailing meetings. The list is not complete. Wives and friends of mant of the members helped out. Memebrs in addition to those mentioned above were: Jack Parker, Albert Ledward, William Michener, Eleanor Borden, Ken Dutill, Isobel Williams, Jerome Ludlow, Charles Crutchfield, Don Ryan, Molly Pearsall (dickson), Robert Lipman, Norma Lipman (Jackson). George Jackson.Bayard Kemble and Carl Gaum.

Over the many years the Grotto has preformed this service for the NSS, Thousand of dollars in services have been volunteered for the NSS. Without this help, it is unlikely that the NSS could have financed a monthly Publication as costly to print as the NEWS. But the Grotto benefitted, too. It brough a large part of the menbership together in a united effort such as no other Grotto activity has done.


The Schofer Cave project was the largest and most important scientific study undertaken by the Grotto to date. Covering a period of about two years during 1950 and 1951 it required the cooperative effort of more than a dozen cavers, most of whom were from the Trenton, N. J. ,area. The study included the gathering of data such as cave air temperatures compared to outside air temperatures, water tempatures and relative humidity, also barometric readings and water levels.

The cave is one of the most well known and most easily accessible of all the caves frequented by Grotto members.. It has several pool of standing water, large and small rooms, and a rather complex system of passages. For all these reasons, it was deemed to be the best selection for a study of the type planned.

Carl Gaum directed the project and wrote the final report. Carl also published the report as an article in “Bulletin 14”. Credit for conceiving the project goes to Oscar J. (jim) Gossett. Among those who participated most actively are Jerome Ludlow, who acted as project coordinator and who wrote the preliminary reports; Bob Lipman, who with Gossett furnished preliminary maps of the cave and aided in getting the project under way; Rudolph Gaum, who participated in most of the trips; Henry Herpers (Deceased), who wrote a brief report on the geology of the aera, and the following, Elizabeth Gaum, eve Herpers, Jerry lieberman, May Ludlow, Norma Lipman and Walter Sittner.

During the time period in which the study was made, continuous readings were taken of the barometric pressure within the caves and these were compared with reading at the cave entranced. Recording barographs requiring weekly rewinding and charts changing were utikized to make the readings.

Continuous temperature readings were also made at various points within the cave and at the cave entrance, at verious times during the study. Clock-driven thermographs were used for this purpose. Ordinary thermometers were also left installed and postcards were supplied to enable anyone visiting the cave to read the temperature and send the reading to the project coordinator.

Water level fluctuations in the “big room” of the cave were also measured over a considerable period. To accomplish this, a staff gage was installed and readings taken by anyone visiting the cave, continuous readings were also made over a considerable period of time by means of a water-stage recorder.

Other data taken included water analyses and measurements od relative humity.

The office of Naval Research furnished baragraphs, thermographs, psychrometers, anemometers and other instruments for use in the project. The Pennsylvania Department of Health Provided bacterial analyses of water. Advice and records were furnished by field personnel of the U.S. Geological Survey in New Jersey and Pennsylvania


Philadelphia Grotto Membership List

Ernest Ackerly – 1948-1950      James Gossett – 1947-1950
Nelson Adams – 1958-1959       Marilyn Gossett – 1948-1950
William Anders – 1958      Jack B. Graham – 1947-1948
Joan Anderson – 1951-1952       William H Haedy – 1947-1948
Richard Aspen – 1947-1948      Lawrence Heinrich – 1958-1961
Ruth Aspen – 1948      Elton Herbert – 1955
Edward P.. Bardet – 1961      William Hertel – 1947-1954
Donald Bayles – 1960-1961       William S. Hill – 1947-1961
Fred D. Bentz – 1949-1950       Charles Houghton – 1958
Richard Bishop – 1958-1959      George Jackson – 1955-1961
Raymond Bliss – 1947      Norma Lipman Jackson – 1949-1961
M. Girard Blpch – 1949-1961       Sigmund Kardas, Jr. – 19961
Jean Bogert – 1950-1956      Donald Kearney – 1959
Eleanor W. Borden – 1947-1961       Eva Keller – 1947-1950
Ruth Boyer – 1947-1951      John J. Keller – 1947
Robert O. Brace – 1955      Byard Kemble – 1952-1955
Richard Brillantine – 1952-1954      William King – 1956
Elbart Brower – 1948-1950      Willard Kirchner – 1955-1960
Charles J. Bunczk — 1961      Robert Kitz – 1953-1954
George Butler – 1956-1957      Charles Kresge – 1961
Charles Crutchfield – 1947-1958       S. Kendall Kurtz – 1947
Evelyn Crutchfield – 1951-1955      William S. Kurtx- 1947-1948
Robert E. Davies – 1956-1961      Donald Laessig – 1947-1958
Samual Davis – 1952-1961      Bernice LaFond – 1952
William Devitt – 1949-1950      Marshall Larrabee – 1959-1960
Molly Pearsal Dickson – 1951-1961       Joseph D. Lawrence – 1954-1961
Robert Dickson – 1956-1961       Albert Ledward – 1947-1950
Evelyn Druding – 1956-1958      Howard Lewis – 1947-1950
Allan Dunnavant – 1961      Robert R. Lewis – 1947-1954
Kenneth Dutill – 1952-1954      Jerry Lieberman – 1950
Clarence Eberhardt – 1956-1957 Albert liedtka – 1957
Frank O. Eckert – 1958-1960      Robert P. Lipman – 1948-1955
John Focht – 1958-1960      Margaret Loye – 1947-1951
Franklin Folsom – 1956, 1958-1969       Jerome M Ludlow – 1947-1961
Jack Fowler – 1958-1959      Mabel Willets Lutz – 1947
James Fowler – 1947-1961      (Hon.) Ralph B. Lutz – 1947
Dougalss B. Fox – 1961      Ulysses E. Lutz – 1952-1961
Paula Fox – 1961      Ida Sawtelle Mallory – 1954-1958
Raymond Foxall – 1948      Richard Mallory – 1954-1955
Carl Gaum – 1949-1951, 1954-1955       Florence Marvin – 1952-1953
Rudy Gaum – 1950-1952      Felix Matusky – 1952
Mary L. Geckeler – 1950      Robert Maynard – 1957-1958
William E. Gibson – 1947-1960      Thomas S. Mertes – 1947-1948
William E. Michener – 1947-1961       Wallane Sickler – 1955-1961
Harold E. Mills – 1952      Walter Sittner – 1947-1949
Nicholas Miskowsky – 1955-1961       Howard N. Sloane – 1959-1961
Charles E. Mohr – 1947-1949, 1958-1961      Lucille Sloane – 1959-1961
William R. Murphy – 1950-1961      Peter Smith – 1959-1960
William Neuman – 1959-1961      Ted Snyderman – 1961
Brother G. Nicholas – 1958-1961       John Spence – 1949-1958
William Nixon – 1947-1953      Herbert Spielman – 1955-1960
John Dyas Parker – 1947-1958      Eva Steinmetz – 1956-1958
Adam Patarcity – 1952-1955      Frank Sullivan – 1956 1958
Richard Hans Petterson – 1958      Alice Sutcliffe – 1947-1949
Ellen Pietsch – 1947-1954      Robert Sutcliffe – 1947-1949
George R. Proctor – 1947-1948      Robert Thren – 1959-1960
James Quinlan – 1955-1956       Iris Van Alstyne – 1959-1961
Charles Rarrick – 1958-1961       Wilson Van Alstyne – 1959-1961
Milton Reese – 1958-1959      Ruth Walyman – 1955
Robert Reich – 1949-1952      Kenneth Waltz – 1948
Robert Richter – 1953-1955      J. George Wanewetch – 1952-1961
H. Hansell Ritter – 1960-1961       Hilda Weber – 1947
Nancy Sylvanus Ritter – 1955-1961      Robin Weder – 1955-1956
John Rutherford – 1958-1959      Audrey Blakesley Welsh – 1952-1956
Donald Ryan – 1948-1951      Isabel Williams – 1948-1950
Richard Ryan – 1947-1948       Elizabeth Witt – 1958-1961
C. Jean Schlegel – 1954-1955      J. Eliot Woodbridge – 1952-1961
Harry Sheridan – 1949      Charles Zimmermann – 1947-1954
William Zimmermann – 1960-1961



Grateful acknowledgment of the assistance of the following is made for the larger part they played in completing this history.

Eleanor Borden and Robert Dickson, who served on Historical Committee.

Jerome Ludlow, who read the first draft and made suggestions for correction and improvement.

Elizabeth Witt, who helped gather the source material and prepared the membership list.

W.S. Hill /signed/, Chairman of Historical Committee