THE HISTORY OF THE PHILADELPHIA GROTTO 1962 to 1971
As written in 1972, author unknown.
Chairman (January to March): Ed Bardet
(March to December) : Bill Zimmerman
Vice-Chairman : Norma Jackson
Treasurer : Lou Lutz
Secretary ( January to March) : Elizabeth Witt
(March to December) : Bill Murphy
and Editor (March to December) : Bill Meuman
1962 was only ten years ago, but in many ways it was not only a different year, but a different world. The Philadelphia Grotto was celebrating its fifteenth anniversary. Founded in 1947, the Grotto met continuously at the Academy of the Natural Sciences, except for a brief period at LaSalle College and at 1520 Race Street, between 1958 and 1960. In 1948 The Grotto dues were $2.00 and they remained at that level in 1962. The income from dues was supplemented by 25 cents trips fees, although in 1962, the collection of these fees was sporadic.
1962 was really a different world. Someone mentioned that Lou Lutz was the only caver at the MAR meet who carried out his spent carbide. Everyone else buried their carbide in the caves. Most of the Grotto two days trips had a Saturday rendezvous point, so that the cavers who were camping could get together with those members who preferred motels. One Philly Grotto trip member ran into two boys who were removing formations from Shofers’s Cave and gave then a stern lecture. In July, the cabin across the road from Shofer’s cave was for sale for $4500, but no one in the Grotto bought it.
The Grotto ran several joints trips to New York caves with the Kittatinny Grotto of New Jersey. In May, George Jackson and Ron Simmons led a trip to Rhode’s Cave near Port Jervis, New York. Later that summer, members of the two grottos visisted the then non-commercialized Ellensville Ice Caves, and Pompey’s Caves near Ellensville, New York. Kittatiny Grotto also Joined Philly Grotto on a joint trip to Leigh Cave, New Jersey.
George Jackson, Lou Lutz, and Ed Selfinger led the trip to a Sinnit and Trout Caves. This was before the connections between Sinnit and Thorn Mountain Cave was discovered. The trip to Sinnit and Trout Caves marked the Grotto’s only West Virginia caving in 1962. Every month or two, the Grotto sponsored a climbing session at Livesey Rock or at Ralph Stovers State Park. The Grotto picnic held on August 14th at Bill Murphy’s house was also quits memorable.
The Ameriacn Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) had their annual meeting in Philadelphia in 1962, and Philly Grotto held a reception for NSS members. Some of the outstanding Grotto meetings included George Jascson on caving in the Black Hills, Robert Davies on the underground rivers Labouiche in the Pyrenees, Joe Lawrence on Rio Camuy, and Jerry Bloch on vertical techniques.
Perhaps the most important event in 1962 was the October birth of the PHILADELPHIA GROTTO DIGEST.
The monthly trip announcements were transformed into newsletter and Bill Neuman became the first editor. Some Grotto members who joined in 1962 and keft a mark on the Grotto include Mark Blumenstein, Gerry Forney, Valerie Gamble, and Ed Selfinger.
The Grotto held several events in celebration of its fifteenth birthday. In May, a historical committee consisting of Bill Hill, Eleanor Borden, and Robert Dickson published a booklet entitled “A History of the Philadelphia Grotto 1947-1961.” The December meeting was set aside as “Old Timers’ Night” and W.S. (Bill) Hill and John Dyas (Jack) Parker showed slides of grotto activities spanning many years.
In 1962, most of the caves that the Grotto visited were in Pennsylvanian. Ron Martin of the Kittatinny Grotto discovered Ron Martins Cave sometime in 1962. Over the independence Day weekend, the MAR sponsored a cave really near Hillside , Pennsylvania. That was the only MAR meet that year. The caves visited at the Mar included Veiled Lady, Deerbone, Sharer, Hennigh, and Sunnyside. The Grotto also visited other caves in 1962 including Durham Cave (lehigh County), Dreibilbis Cave (berks County), Hosterman”s Pit
(Centre County), and of course, the Franklin County Caves such as Carnegie, Cleversburg Sink, Conodugenet, Hershey, and Huber Coy.
In August , Bill Wilt, along with Bill Zimmerman and his family, Installed a cave register in Shofer cave. The NSS Conservation Committee provided the registers in hope s that visitors would write their names in the Book rather than on the walls. The number of names in the book also provided a measure of traffic that the cave was receiving. One problem with Shofer’s Cave seemed to be that very few cavers knew how to spell its name. In the Grotto Minutes, It is variously spelled “Shofers,” “Schofers,” and even “Shoffers.”
Chairman: Jerry Block
Vice-Chairman: Wilson Van Alstyme
Treasurer: Lou Lutz
Secretary and Librarian: Valerie Gamble
Editors: Bill Neuman,
George Jackson, and
Board Member : Paula Carson
1963 was a year of financial crisis for the Grotto. The Philadelphia Grotto Digest, with its ambitious exchange policy., plunged the Grotto into immediate fiscal troubles. Lou lutz proposed that Grotto Dues be raised to $3.00, and that the 25 cent trips fee be collected more conscientiously. Bill Hill suggested a dues increase from $2.00 to $4.00 and a family membership without publications of $2.00. Mark Blumenstein. Proposed a traveling lecture team to give talks on caves and raise money for the Grotto. However, No immediate changes resulted from these suggestions.
Most of the Grotto trips in 1964 were still to Pennsylvania caves. Philly hosted the summer MAR meet which took place at the Old Dutch Mill Campground, Near Kutztown, Pennsylvania. The caves vistied at the meet included Dragon, Dreibilis, Ohmacht, South Temple, Crystal Shofer, and also two commercial caves, Crystal and Onyx. A check of the Shofer Caves register showed that 108 people vistied the cave and signed the book in a two and a half month period. In November, over 60 people vistied Shofer Cave on one of Brothers Nick’s LaSalle College Geology field trips.
Early in the year, George Jackson led a trip to Wind Cave (Lancaster County, Pennsylvania) and collected a snail that was later identified by scientist at the Academy of Natural Sciences as Tridopsis Tridentata. On April 21 , Jay Reich led a trip to the Pequea Silver mMind near Wind Cave. The group also visited Paxtang or Big Pit near Harrisburg, which had just been opened by a bulldozer excavating a parking lot. Big Pit had a 45-foot pit entrance and some of the nicest speleothems in Pennsylvania.
There were also Grotto field trips to caves in other parts of Pennsylvania. Mark Blumenstein led a March 17th trip to Peiper and Carniegie Caves, near Chambersburg. On October 5th to 6th, another Grotto trip to the Mercersburg area visited Overcash, Bushanan, Woodchuck, Welsh Run, and Baker
The fall MAR meet was held in Centre County, and Grotto members visited hosterman’s, Milroy, Deerbone, and Veiled Lady Caves. In August, Valierie Gamble, Mark Blumenstein, and Jerry Forney visited Nails and Seawra Caves in the same area. In October, Blumenstein,along with Gardner Lane and Ann Smith made an unsuccessful trip to ask permission to visit Carpenter’s Cave. Instead, they
found a cave above the entrance to Durham Cave, and they named it Maranga, an acronym of their
first names. However, Maranga Cave turned out to be Durham #2 Cave which had been described in
the April 1962 Nittany Grotto News.
On May 12th, George Jackson led a Grotto trip to Leigh Cave, New Jersey. The land around the
Entrance had recently been purchased by the State of New Jersey, so there was some question about access. However, the group did get inside.
Over Memorial Day, Doug Fox led one of the Grotto’s first long West Virginia trips. The group camped near Franklin and visited Organ-Hendricks Cave. At the Old Timers’ Reunion over Labor Day, Doug also led a trip to Mystic Quarry, and Kenny Simmons Cave. That same weekend, Lou Lutz and Jerry Bloch led a group through Schoolhouse Cave. The people who visited Schoolhouse had previously passed a qualifying practice at Livezey Rock in Philadelphia.
Brother Nicholas Sullivan, FSC presented several Grotto programs on caving in Australia, and on Cathedral Cave, Kentucky. Several meetings before and after the Schoolhouse trip included slides and movies taken inside the great vertical cave. June was the first Grotto auction, with schlockmeister Mark Blumenstein as auctioneer. The “Take ” was only $24.26, but the amount continued to rise for many years thereafter. Several Grotto Meetings included programs on other aspects of caving. Joe Lawrence spoke on Mapping, Bill Murphy talked about cave photography, and Jerry Bloch lectured on Speleothems. Ed Deverell and Nick Miskovski spoke on caves in the alps and in other parts of Europe.
In December, Terry Belcher was “suspended from all field trips for one year for failure to comply with reasonable safety precautions.” Much time was wasted on debating this suspension, and the incident reflected little credit on the Grotto or on any of its members.
In the Fall of 1963, George and Norma Jackson moved to Los Angeles, and the Grotto lost two of its most active members. George was one of the earliest members of NSS, and joined the Grotto in 1955. Norma (Lipman) had been a member since 1949.
Chairman: Mark C. Blumenstein
Vice-Chairman : William S. Hill
Treasurer : Ed Deverell. Jr.
Secretary : C. Gardner and
Editor : Lou Lutz
By 1964, The Pennsylvania caves were becoming too familiar and the trips seemed repetitious. The Grotto members did more caving in West Virginia than ever before. In February, Grotto cavers visited Big Pit, Pennsylvania. In March, they saw Wind and Refton Caves, and in April, the Grotto trip went to Hosterman’s Pit. In May, Mark Blumenstein, and two new Grotto members, Laurie Cameron and Ed Tapp, attended the Nittany Grotto Picnic and revistied Aitkin and Nails Caves. The Fall MAR was at the Old Dutch Mill Campground again. There was yet another Trip to Big Pit in September. Doug Medville, as an NSS member who had just moved from New York, led a November 22nd trip to Cleversburg Sink. On that trip,Laurie Cameron had the first series of minor accidents. A natural bridge collapsed while he was standing on it.
Over Memorial Day weekend, Blumenstein, Cameron, Ed Tapp, and Jerry Schnapper joined and Jim Hixson at Sugar Shack in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. They explored Roadside Pit and Poorfarm Cave. The Old Timers’ Reunion was especially eventful. Mark Blumenstein broke his leg when a telephone-booth sized rock he was standing on fell off Seneca Rocks. He was retrieved by Bill Karras’ rescue team, then known as Friendship Grotto. Over Thanksgiving, a group that included Bob Barton, Dan Foss, Hilt Long ,and Doug Medville explored Hellhole, in Germany Valley, West Virginia.
The NSS Convention took place in June in New Braunfels, Texas. After the convention, Earl Geil and Mason Sproul invited Grotto member Ed Tapp to go on one of the early Terry Raines trips to cave in Mexico. Ed wrote an article for the Digest, and also gave the program at the November Grotto meeting on Bustamante and the Caves of the El Abra Range, Mexico.
At other Grotto meetings, Brother Nick and Joe Lawrence spoke on the initial exploration and
biological studies in the Rio Caumy Cave, Puerto Rico. For the January meeting, George Jackson mailed slides and a commentary on California caves. Jerry Forney showed slides of Bethlehem Cave, South Dakota, that he had taken on a Lasalle College geology field course taught by Brother Nick. Ken Alto and Doug Medville, who had just moved from from New York , showed slides of their caving activities in that state. Other Grotto programs with caving techniques and featured talks by Laurie
Cameron, Jack Parker, and Ed Tapp. In an attempt to remain solvent, the Grotto raised the dues to $3.00 in
The 1964 NSS President, George Moore came through Philadelphia in November. He gave a special talk on Speleothems. To raise some much- needed money, the Grotto sold copies of the book Speleology that Moore co-authored with Brother Nick.
In 1964, Philly Grotto also held climbing sessions at Livezey Rock and in Ralph Stover State Park. The Grotto picnic was held in July at the Old Dutch Mill, and it was well attended.
Chairman : Ed Tapp, Jr.
Vice-Chairman : Mark Blumenstein
Treasurer : Bob Barton
Secretary : Valerie Gamble
Editor : Laurie Cameron
Board Member : Ed Deverell, Ed Werner
1965 was the year of Cassell’s cave. On September 5, 1964, the Potomac Speleological Club discovered a new passage leading from the pit in Cassell’s Cave. On October 18th, Doug Williamson and Paul Errington discovered Cassell’s Windy Cave. Philly Grotto’s first trip took place on New Year’s weekend, and the group included Bob Berton, Laurie Cameron, Warren Heller, Doug Medville, Stu Smith, and Ed Werner. On Febuary 6th, Philly Grotto members discovered the connection between Cassell’s Cave and Cassell’s Windy Cave
Over Memorial Day weekend, Frank Thompson of PSC broke his ankle in Cassell’s Cave, and Philly Grotto helped with the reacue. During a July 10th trip to Cassell’s Cave with Bob Barton, Ed Tapp, and “solo” Lew Bicking, a scaling pole failed and Doug Medville was slightly injured. Cassell’s Cave gave the Grotto a project, and a worthwhile focus for its activities. The construction of Interstate 81 moved West Virginia quite a bit closer to Philadelphia. In all, 17,500 feet of Virgin passage was mapped in Cassell’s Cave in 1965
Philly Grotto ran trips to many other West Virginia Caves. In September, a group that included Laurie and Marji Cameron, Doug Medville, Tapp Alto and Werner visited Simmons-Mingo Cave. That same weekend, Laurie and Marji discovered Marshall’s Cave, which has gone down in Speleological history as one of the most miserable and toughest. The weekend before Thanksgiving, Barton, Medville, and Tapp along with Lew Bicking, Rick Banning, Bobbi Nagy, Rick Nelson, and Rick Rigg visited Briars’ Hole , West Virginia. Over Thanksgiving, Stu and Edith Ann Smith, Tom Stewart, and Laurie Cameron roped down Cass Cave. According to Doug Medville’s records, the Grotto ran 21 trips to Virginia and West Virgina in 1965. These trips has 5 to 15 people on them, 16 virgin caves were explored and 14 others were located.
The Grotto also explored its usual quota of Pennsylvania Caves. During a March trip tp explore Ron Martin Cave (Northumberland County), Blumenstein,Medville, and Werner discovered several smaller caves. In May, Medville, Tapp, and Warner returned to map these caves and then went on to Aitkin Cave, near State College. Laurie Cameron led a May trip into Big Ridge Cave, Pennslvania’s deepest cave. At the request of the cave manamement, Ed Tapp and several other cavers explored the undeveloped portions of Crystal Cave (Berks County). The passage turned out to be nothing but a crawlway and unsuitable for commercial development.
Doug Medville also maintained interest in New York Caves. In July, He led a trip to Schoharie and Albany Counties. In October, he took a group to visit Rhodes Cave and Bells Cave in New York. With Ed Werner, Ed also went prospecting in Schoarie County and revisited the Ellensville Ice Cave.
1965 was also the year of the first Medville-Werner trips to Wyoming. That trip started a tradition that is still going on , almost ten years later. In November, Doug showed the Grotto slides of the various western caves that he visited.
In late July and August, there was a trip to Sotano de Tlamaya in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, But Warren Heller was the only grotto member of that rather cosmopolitan group.
By Late 1965, The Grotto had 35 members. The Grotto made money selling GE Cinelites for cave movies, with Mark Blumenstein directing sales.
In addition to the annual auction, the Febuary meeting featured George Jackson’s slides and commentary on Titus Cave, California. In april, Russ Gurnee came from New Jersey and spoke on caving in Guatemala and Costa Rica. The may meeting included a slide show and NSS Safety Committee commentary on the Dolgevill Body recovery. James Mitchill, a young NSS menberdied of exposure in Shroeder’s Pants Cave, New York while trying to prusik through a waterfall.The July meeting featured slides taken at the June NSS convention in Bloomington, Indiana. In December, Rick Nelson showed slides from caves in Alabama and near State College, Pennsylvania.
Chairman : Warren Heller
Vice-Chairman : Doug Medville
Treasurer : Bob Barton
Secretary : Marji Cameron
Board Members ; Mark Blumenstein,
1966 was one of the most active years in the Grotto’s History. Explorations continued in Cassell’s cave, and much of the activity was concentrated in an area known as Skeleton Dome. On May 28th, Warren Heller and a group of Grotto members carried scaling poles down the pit and through the caves to Skeleton Dome. That same weekend, Bob Medville, and Ed Warner made a wet downstream push. On the 25th, Heller along with Lance Kelly, Stu Smith , Tom Stewart, and Ed Tapp returned and used the scaling poles to nail up Skeleton Dome. That same weekend, the Camerons and Doug Medville, found the Philly Connection from the base of the Cassell’s Cave Pit. This connection proved to be an important short cut on future trips. By the end of 1966, there were 22,444 feet mapped in Cassell’s Cave with another three-fourths of a mile or so of unmapped passage.
During 1966, Grotto members found 32 new caves in West Virginia. On Febuary 27th, Doug and the Camerons started exploring the long stream crawl in Marshall’s Cave. Over Easter, Bob Barton, and Jerry Forney followed the passage until it opened up. The others explored nearby Devil’s Kitchen Cave. Between December of 1965 and September of 1966, the members of the Grotto found 23 new caves in the Cloverlick Valley, Pocahontas County, West Virginia. Trips to Cloverlick went out in January, Febuary, March, May, June, and July. Many of the caves were names after Grotto Members and friends including Ed’s Cave, Smith’s Crawl, Tapp’s Trap, Tom’s Pit and Rick’s Brig. Stu Smith also found time in the midst of this activity to visit Stratosphere Balloon and Sinnit Cave. Over 100 attended, and John Rutherford spoke on the activities of WVACS ( West Virginia Association for Cave Studies).
Back in Pennsylvania, Laural Cameron led a small group including Francis Laping, a new photographer into Hosterman’s Pit and Aitkin’s Cave near state College. The group included Craig Bartholomew, Jules Alciatore, Stu and Edith Ann Smith, Bob Barton. The trip resulted in an article and pictures in the “Philadelphis Sunday Bulletin Magazine” (June 26,1966). Although Laping promised to let the Grotto review the article before it was published, he failed to do so, and several people were upset with the resulting inaccuracies. The article resulted in two phone inquiries and three letters, and apparently no new members.
In January, Mark Blumenstein led a group of 18 people into Carnegie Cave (Franklin County, Pennsylvania). In late August, Doug Medville was present for an unsuccessful diving attempt to find underwater passages in Penn Aqua Cave. Paula Carson, who later moved to Pittsburgh, led trips to explore caves in the Chester Vally near Philadelphia.
The almost annual Ellensville (New York) Ice Cave trip took place in October. The group included< the Bartons, the Camerons, the Smiths, Tom and Hazel Stewart, Ed Tapp, Doug Medville, along with Dave Brison and Jim Young of York Grotto.
September was the month of the Great Kentucky Cave Trip, a well known and fondly recalled fiasco.The group included a great bunch of people; Pete Hauer, Ed Miller of Boston, The Smiths, Craig and Ann Bartholomew, the Camerons, Lance Kelly, Tom Stewart, Ed Tapp, and Ed Palczewski to name a few. But cave wise, the trip was a flop.
In August, Mark Blumenstein and his British side-kick, Stanley Q.Spencer, went on the Great sightseeing circle tour of the Western United States. In November, Hazel Stewart, Ed Tapp, Howard Buschar, and the Camerons explored sewers and founded the Philladelphia Sewer and Subway Society.
Socially, a great deal was going on in the Grotto. Some time in January, Ed Tapp took up a semi-permanent resident in Cass cave. Bob Barton and Karen Seig got married when the weather got warm. Warren and Doug Medville started back to school at the University of Pennsylvania after a few years of honest labor. On the other hand, Stu reentered Brown. Bob Feuer joined the Grotto about then too.
On October 30, 1966, Lew Bicking died in a motorcycle accident. No one whoever knew “solo Lew” will ever forget him.
Philly Grotto had only 27 members in 1966, but was quite active in spite of its small membership. In March, Thanks to Bob Feuer, the grotto moved its meeting place from the Acedemy of Natural Sciences to the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. The rent was constantly increasing at the Academy while the Grotto was poorer, and the new quarters were rent free. In Febuary, The Grotto officially became the Philadelphia Chapter. A number of member were deducting various caving activities from there income taxes, and felt that chapter sounded more dignified and might help them in their dealings with the IRS.
In January, Jack Stellmack came and spoke on Alpine Karst and Caves in Darby Canyon, Wyoming. He also showed slides from the International Congress of Speleogy in Yugoslavia. Next month, the controversial cave resue leader Bill Blumenstein was the “Schlockmeister” at the annual Grotto auction. Over $37 was taken in, in this “caver’s equivalent of a bake sale”.
In June, Jerry Forney spoke on Bethlehem Cave in the Black Hill of South Dakota. Sandy Szerlip of Sandia Grotto gave the October meeting on a new passage in Carlsbad Cavern and on Glory Hole in Montana. In November, Dave Brison spoke on caves in Europe and the Near East. The year ended with a December trip to Warm River Cave, Virginia. It is said that the saying “never trust a naked cave explorer” originated on this trip.
Chairman : Doug Medville
Vice-Chairman : Mark Blumenstein
Secretary : Hazel Stewart
Treasurer : Bob Barton
Editor : Laurie Cameron
Board Members : Warren Heller and
1967 was the yaer of Flower Pot. In January of 1967, Doug Medville and Hazel Stewart were checking caves leads in Elklick Valley and near Witmer, West Virginia. They discovered, or more properly, rediscovered, a cave named Flower Pot. They roped down a pit and found a tight crawl at the bottom. The cave had been examined by early NSSers in 1949, but they didn’t crawl, and considered the pit deadened.
In mid-February, Doug and Hazel and Rick Baning climbed down a second pit at the end of the crawlway and discovered an underground stream. In April, the three returned with Marji Cameron and Bob Barton, and the group started mapping the cave. On the third exploring trip, also in April, Medville, Stewart, and Banning were joined by a group from West Virginia University that included Bill Duncan, Greg Eddy, and Charlie Larson explored to the top of the first waterfall.
July the 4th was the date for the Big Push. A large grouped managed to ladder over two underground waterfalls. After that July trip, Doug and hazel returned for two more mapping trips. On September 18th, a group from Pittsburgh pushed several leads and found some new passage. On Sptember 25th, a group of 13 people from Philly Grotto and McMaster University reached an endurance barrier and the tight downstream passage. Exploration stopped after a Thanksgiving “Mop-Up” Trip. March of 1968, 14,387 feet of passage had been mapped in Flower Pot. The total depth of the cave was 372 feet, making it one of the deepest caves in West Virginia.
Flower Pot really dominated the Grotto’s caving activities. But in May, Laurie Cameron led a trip through Big Ridge Cave, Pennsylvania. In March and April, Cameron and Dave Brison went caving in Mexico. At the June Grotto meeting, Cameron showed slides of his trip. That wasn’t the only international caving in 1967. Warren and Kitty Heller went caving in Pierre St. Martin in France in September of 1967. He later wrote his trip up in the NSS NEWS. The NSS Convention was held in Birmingham, Alabama, and the large Philly Grotto contingent there included Blumenstein, the Cameron’s, Doug Medville, Tom Stewart, and Ed Tapp.
Closer to Philadelphia, Bob Feuer led day trips to Dreibilbis Cave (Berks County, Pennsylvania) in October and to South Temple Cave (also Berks County) in November. Marl Blumenstein led a group through Sinnet cave, West Virginia in November. That fall, Jerry Forney along with the University of Delaware Outing Club visited Whiting Neck Cave and Moles Cave, West Virginia. In December, Pete Hauer and Forney did a swing through New Jersey and visited its largest and most beautiful caves, namely Leigh Cave, and Twin Lakes Cave.
In 1967, the most membership of the grotto seemed to have leveled off at 26 members or so. Some of the new members included Dick Zink and Ed Palczewski. The Febuary and March Grotto meetings were replaced by a SpeleoSeminar. Brother Nick gave four talks on the geologic and biological aspect of speleology. In April, the annual Grotto auction took place. Dave Brison gave a multimedia presentation on “Caves and Cave Music” at the May Meeting. At the July meeting, Laurie Cameron spoke on “How not to Cave.” This talk was later transformed into a widely read and reported article.
In December, the AAAS meeting were held in New York City. At the NSS sessions on caves geography and exploration , Doug Medville gave a talk on the discovery and exploration of the Flower Pot. And 1967 ended.
Chairman : Tom Stewart
Vice-Chairman : Hazel Stewart
(January- March) : March Blumenstein
( March- december) : Meredith Schlenker
Treasurer : Bob Barton
Board members : Bob Feuer,
In Januarry of 1968, Mark Blumenstein led a group from the American Youth Hostels into Shofer Cave.
On April 20, 1968, Inez Trindle and Bob Feuer ran a joint AYH and Grotto trip to Dreibilbis Cave. The cavers who joined the Grotto through the AYH or as friends of the AYH cavers brought new blood into the Grotto. These people included Fred Behm, Eileen Caya, and Fred Wagner.
However, cave-wise, 1968,was not one of the Grottos most active years. On March 9, 1968, 13 people from Philly explored Devil’s Kitchen Cave, (Randolph County, West Virginia) and Mapped 3,663 feet of passage. Exploration continued in Flower Pot every now and then. On May 31st, one of the most beautiful sections of the cave, the “Primrose Path” was discovered. On July 27 to 28, there was yet another big downstream push. After the push, the total mapped passage in the cave was 16,612 feet. There were also several attempts to blast and dig rocks to find another entrance to Flower Pot.
Over the Easter Weekend, there was also another push in Marshall Cave. In November, 1968, Doug and Hazel discovered Harman’s Waterfall Cave. However, groups from York Grotto led by Pete Hauer did most of the exploration in this cave. By April of 1969, 6,850 feet had been mapped in this cave.
There were a few trips to Pennsylvania caves. In February, Bob Feuer led one of the last trips into Big Pit near Harrisburg before it was paved over. The Spring MAR meet was held at Bald Eagle, Pennsylvania.
There were also two Grotto trips to Mexican caves. In July, the Camerons, the Hellers, Tom Stewart, Dick Zink and a group from Huntsville Grotto descended Sotano de las Golandrinas. Over Christmas and into the New Years of 1969, the same Philly Group along with Meredith Schlenker and T. Dennis Coskren returned to Mexico. They went to Tampapatz and the Soledad-Tequila area in the state of Puebla. In a cave near Tamapatz, Laurie Cameron fell on a climb, was washed over a waterfall, and was slightly injured.
At the Grotto meeting in January, Warren Heller showed slides of his September 1967 trip to Pierre St. Martin in France. The Grotto auction was held in February. In May, Russ, Jeanne, Susan, and Wendy Gurnee came down from New Jersey, and Russ spoke on recent explorations in Rio Camudy, Puerto Rico.
The meeting was preceded by a memorable meal at the Tip Top Bar and Grill, one of Philadelphia’s lesser known but better eateries. In September, Doug Medville and Ed Werner showed slides on their summer’s explorations in caves in the Tetons. Carl Walker joined the Grotto in Febuary,1968 and quickly became one of the most active members. At the November meetings, Carl spoke on his caving trips to Jamaica.
Chairman : Carl Walker
Vice-Chairman : Arnold Ross
Secretary : Meredith Shlenker and
Treasurer : Bob Barton
Editor : Gerald Forney
Board Members : Warren Heller and
1969 was a year of growth and changes for the Grotto. There were few big discoveries, but many activities in varied areas. On April 5th, Grotto members visited a Greenbrier County, West Virginia farm owned by Pete Allison. Two caves on the farm, the Pilgrim Rest Church Caves were explored.Mark Blumenstein took the memorable picture of the group which appers on the cover of this issue. Pete Allison, his son Jay, And Pete’s brother Neville were magnificent hosts for that enormous crowd of cavers.
On May 17-19, the Grotto sponsored a trip to Cassell’s Cave. On this trip, we met a mythical two headed beast known as the “Fred.” It consisted of new members Fred Wagner and Fred Behm. That weekend in Cassssell’e, Warren Heller led another not so successful scaling pole attempt in Far Dome. In the meantime, Doug Medville and Ed Werner, Found some new caves in the Cloverlick Vally. Werner was writing a master’s thesis on the caves and Karst of the Valley. This paper appeared as Wesy Virginia Speleological Survey “Bulletin II”. Later in May, Doug and Hazel and Gerry Forney made an upstream push in Marshall’s Cave (Randolph County, West Virginia) and found some new walking passage. Marshall’s Cave was so tough that people emerged demotivated and vowing never to go in again, so that a year often went by between trips. In August, there were some more attempts and “Instant cave” used to make a new entrance to Flower Pot along with another trip to Cassell’s Cave.
The Grotto also went skiing. Over Memorial Day, Warren Heller led a group up Tuckerman’s Ravine on Mt. Washington, New Hampshire. There in the shadow of the mountain, they caught the last snow of the season.
In January, Gerry Froney led a beginner’s trip to South Temple, Shofer, and Dragon Caves in Berk’s County, Pennsylvania. The Spring MAR was held in Hillside, Pennsylvania. The group included trips to caves that had been closed for many years. Gerry Forney and Inez Trindle hitched across Pennsylvania after Trindle’s car broke down. The Fall MAR was held at lenig’s Campground, Near Fisher’s Ferry, Pennsylvania. The group included new Grotto members Allen Friedman and Dan Gealt and they visited Ron Martin and several other caves. About that time, Ron Hubbard moved to Philadelphia and joined the Grotto.
In Late October, A large Philly group drove to State College, Pennsylvania, and camped out in Stu and Edith Ann Smith’s living room. Stu was back in School again, and this time he was at Penn State. We drank his homemade beer and visited J-4 Cave, Hosterman’s Pit, and Big RidgeCave all near State College.
Now it can be told ! These last two named vertical caves were training and conditioning for the Grotto’s super Thankgiving Trip to Schoolhouse Cave. Although the Schoolhouse group was large, the trip went off without a hitch thanks to Warren Heller’s brilliant job of organization. That same weekend, some of the group also visited Cass Cave.
The 1969 NSS Convention was held in Lovell, Wyoming. After the convention, Ed Tapp and the Medvilles explored caves and Alpine Karat in the Tetons. Gerry Forney, Charlie Hallowell, and Peggy Losee visited Bethlehem Cave and Jewel Cave, South Dakota in a slight detour of their way to Arizona. This trip was the first of the legendary “Travels with Charlie.”
Closer to home, Bob Feuer led a PCPS group into shofer and Dragon Caves on December 7th. On this trip, one of the students was slightly injured in a careless fall. A week later, Arnold Ross led a trip to Peiper’s Cave (Franklin County, Pennsylvania).
Socially, the major event of 1969 was the June Medville wedding. What seemed like hundreds of cavers descended on northeast Philadelphia to see Doug and hazel get Hitched. In May, Doug and Hazel moved to Washington, D. C. and the Grotto last two od its most valuable members. Thanks in large measure to Doug”s leadership, The Grotto found 180 new caves in West Virginia between September of 1964 and November of 1969.
In December od 1969, The AAAS , (American Association for the Advancement of Science) Held its
annual meeting in Boston. Several Grotto Members gave talks in the session on cave exploration and geography. Peggy Losee and Doug Medville spoke on the Ellensville, New York Ice Crevice, while Ed Werner discussed his work in the Karst of the Cloverlick Valley, West Virginia.
At the February Grotto meeting, A Philadelphia skin diver and policeman, Lt. Bob Wilson spoke on cave diving. Lauri Cameron and Warren Heller showed slide of their Christmas Mexico trip at the march meeting. Laurie was also the schlockmeister at the April Grotto Auction. In May, Les Kermode spoke on caving in New Zealand. Kermode, a member of the NZ Speleological Society and also an employee of the NZ Geological Survey, was on his way around the worldto go to the International Speleological Congress in Stuttgart. In April, Doug Medville spoke on Flower Pot and the caves of the Cloverlick Valley. In November of 1969, the Grotto moved its meeting place from Philadelphia College of Pharmacy to Hayden Hall at the University of Pennsylvania. The Grotto had 39 members, but in just two years, it grew to 100 cavers.
The September 21, 1969 issue of “Sunday Today: The Inquirer Magazine” included and artical entitled “Caves : Climbing for the Bottom.” The Camerons, Fred Behm, Dan Gealt, Gordon Rodda, Fred Wagner, Allen Friedman and several other Grotto members took Hoag Levins, a reporter, through Baxter’s Cave. Again our experience with media was disappointing. Levins Promised to let Cameron review the article and make suggestions before it was published. He Didn’t. Luckily there were only a few mistakes.
Chairman : Arnold Ross
Vice-Chairman : Rone Hubbard
Secretary : Warren Heller and
Treasurer : Bob Barton
In 1970, the Grotto’s activities were very diverse. The caving began on January 10th when Gerry Forney led a trip through snow drifts to Wind Cave and Pequea Silver Mine (Lancaster County, Pennsylvania) and to Beaver Run Cave, Delaware. In February, Forney led another beginner’s trip to South Temple, Dragon, and Shofer’s Cave (Beraks County, Pennsylvania). On March 10th, Steve Lapinski “Discovered” Red Church Cave and quickly explored its 10000 feet of passage. Red Church turned out to be Frantz Cave which was previously well-known to the Reading and Northern Grottos. On March 22, Gerry Forney and Gregg Woods led a trip to Berks County’s minor caves, namely Camp Joy, Ohnmacht, and Hobo Caves. Arnold Ross led a day trip to Red Church cave in July.
At the February meeting, Richard Franz and Dennis Slifer spoke on the caves of Maryland and their Maryland cave survey. Many Philly Grottos members attended the spring MAR Meet which was held at Sang Run in Western Maryland. The caves visited included John Friend Cave and Crab Tree, and there was also a day of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. The caves visited included Carnegie, Hershey-Huber Coy,and Peipers. The Party and skinny-dipping was very good too.
Exploration in West Virginia caves continued at their usual frantic pace. Early in the year, Dan Gealt reported on newly discovered Yokum Saokem Cave. On April 17th, Gordon Rodda, Dan gealt, Allen Friedman, and Fred Behm found new passage in Baxter and Yokum Soakem Caves.
In Mid-May, Doug and Hazel Medville and Gerry Forney pushed Marshall’s Cave again. Over Memorial Day, Doug and Hazel Medville and Stu and Edith Ann Smith looked for caves in the valley of Otter Creek. On July 12th, Doug and Hazel discovered another important cave, Cook Pot Cave, (Pocahontas County, West Virginia). There were major exploring trips into Cool Pot in July September,and October. At the end of the year, the Medvilles found the Mennonite Youth Camp Cave in Randolph County which was also later explored and found to have more than a mile of passage. The Grotto was also invloved in the exploration of Maxwellton Sink(Cowshit Pit). Over 14,000 feet of passage were discovered on the first trip to that cave.
There was also a great deal of Vertical caving in and out of caves. Over Easter, about ten Grotto members rappelled and climbed Whiteside, a 1000 foot cliff in North Carolina. On Memorial Day , a Grotto grouped toured Ellison’s Cave, Georgia’s famouse tough one. In July, Rone Hubbert, Bob Kezell, and Gordon Rodda decended Carpenters-swago Cave in West Virginia.
In 1970 NSS Convention held at Watoga State Park, West Virginia and State College, Pennsylvania was chaired by Diug Medville and sponsored by the MAR. Philly Grotto was heavily invloved especially in organizing and running the field trips. During the summer, Peggy Losee, Fred Behm, and Gordon Rodda mapped and explored the Ellensville Ice Crevice. Over Memorial Day, yet a third Grotto group went to Tuckerman’s Ravine.
Jo Yankauskas joined the Grotto in 1070 and quickly became one of the most active members. She went on many Grotto trips and also went to Kentucky and Tennessee over Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday. But in 1971, she married Kentucky caver Dave Beiter and moved from Philadelphia.’In November, Jo, Gerry Forney, and Frank Eckert, a former Grotto member, visited the Alpo Dog Food Factory Caves, near Allentown, Pennsylvania.
At the March Grotto meeting, Mark Blumenstein spoke on caves in the Mendip Hills of England. Mark was also the Autioneer at the June Grotto auction. In April, courtesy of the University of Pennssylvania geology department, Will White came from Penn State and spoke on resent discoveries in Mammoth Cave.At the August meeting, Jay Bradbury showed slides of Alabama Caves. Bob Barton gave a retrospective talk on Cassell’s Cave at the September meeting.
Jay Bradbury was in Philadelphia working for Boeing, while Bob McKelvey was stationed at the Navel Hospital. In October, the Grotto moved across 30th Street to the David Rittenhouse Laboratories where it meets today. That month, Bob McKelvey spoke of caves in Missoouri and Arkansas. In November, Bob showed pictures of various caves in Tennessee, Alabama, and arkansas. That year ended with a talk by Gerry Forney on caving in Greece. In 1970, Philly Grotto had 68 members. There was a trip to Mexico at the end of 1970 and several exciting discoveries were made. However, these were never reported because of fear that other groups would go in and explore some of the leads left in these caves
Chairman Robert Kezell
Vice-Chairman: Rone Hubbard
Secretary: Fred Behm
Treasurer: Bob Barton
Editor: Rone Hubbard
Board members: Gerald Forney
In 1971, the membership in the Philadelphia Grotto hit it’s highest peak ever at 108 members. Exploration in Cook Pot, Greenbriar County, West Virginia, continued with a big push in May. By mid-1971, the total length of passage in Cook Pot was 6197 feet. In the spring, the MAR and the Virginia Region held a joint meet at Pete Hauer’s farm, and Philly cavers visited many of the local caves.
The Grotto continued to do a great deal of vertical caving. Bob Kezell led a May trip to Hosterman’s Pit and Big Ridge Cave. Over Memorial Day, Gordon Rodda led a trip to Alabama to explore Fern Cave. Dan Gealt led a second trip to Hosterman’s in late July. The annual Grotto skiing trip in Tuckerman’s Ravine also took place over Memorial Day. Over July 4th weekend, the Medvilles and Eb and Judy Werner went back for another look at Cloverlick Valley.
There were also some day trips to Pennsylvania caves. In early January, Gerry Forney and Frank Eckert led a trip to Durham cave near Allentown, Pa. Forney led another trip to Red Church Cave and South Temple Cave in February.
Carl Walker prepared an exhibit stressing cave conservation for the Pennsylvania Mineral Show which was held April 17th to 18th at Valley Forge Military Academy. On March 27th, the Medvilles held a long-awaited party at their apartment in D.C. Cavers came from all the surrounding states.
The NSS convention took place in June at Blacksburg, Virginia. There was a very large Philadelphia Grotto contingent. The caves visited included Spruce Run Mountain and New Castle Murder Hole. At the convention, Doug and Hazel Medville received the Bicking award for hard-driving cave exploration, of the sort “Solo Lew” fostered.
After the convemtion, Gerald Forney, Fred Behm, and Charlie Hallowell went on an extended trip to locate and map caves in Nova Scotia. Behm came back to Philadelphia in time to join the Medvilles, Eileen Caya, Mark Blumenstein, and several other people in exploring caves in the Tetons and Gros Ventre Mountains of Wyoming. Doug showed slides of their findings at the October Grotto meeting.
At the February meeting, the grotto saw a re-run of the ABC-Explorer’s Club movie entitled “Riddle of a Mayan Cave” The movie starred Russ and Jeanne Gurnee, Brother Nicholas, and many NSS cavers. At the April grotto meeting, Roy Zeper showed his movie entitled “Bats and Gold” on bat caves in Mexico. In May, Mark Blumenstein was the auctioneer for the annual Grotto Auction. Carl Walker gave a two part talk on hiking and mountain climbing in the Alps at the June and July meetings.
Unfortunately the Digest died, the Poop Sheet became sporadic, and minute taking became sporadic about halfway through 1971. Therefore it’s hard to say what, if anything happened after that point. So ends the story of ten years, very productive years, of cave exploration based in Philadelphia.