Photo by Ron Simmons

New York Times, 2/16/54

CRYSTAL CAVE, Ky., Feb. 15 - The woman attired in Army khaki fatigue suit and a miner's helmet with carbide lamp was descending into the cave for a week's sojourn. A reporter inquired:

"Is there anything nicer you'd rather do?"

"Yes," replied Mrs. Ida V. Sawtelle, 47 years old, of Brooklyn, N.Y. "I'd like to go down for two weeks."

Mrs. Sawtelle is typical of the fifty-five men and women engaged today in exploring Crystal Cave in the Mammoth Cave National Park area, 100 miles south of Louisville.

Last night, she accompanied another woman and four men on the first stage of the exploration, requiring nine hours of crawling and hiking. They carried 250 pounds of personal effects and equipment. Exhaustion finally defeated them.

Mrs. Sawtelle, who earns her living training dogs, was accompanied by Marguerite Klein, 21, a schoolteacher from Chevy Chase, Md. Neither had spent more than a day in a cave.

The other woman preceded them underground as the National Spelelogical (cave study) Society launched the seven-day expedition. They were Nancy Rogers, 41, a bacteriologist of Arlington, VA., and Audrey E. Blakesley, 21 a secretary from Trenton, N.J.

Sixteen men were working their way toward uncharted portions of the cave 200 feet below the earth's surface as the expedition's first day ended.

A dozen of the men together with Miss Rogers and Miss Blakesley spent their first night at Advance Camp No. 1, normally six hours travel from the entrance. Today a four-man party searched without success for a site for Advance Camp No. 2, six hours farther in. From Advance Camp No. 2, small parties will go out on eighteen-hour trips investigating what geologists estimate are forty miles of unexpected passages.

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