Photo by Ron Simmons

Explorers Find Hidden River, New Caverns In Crystal Cave
By Tom Blinkhorn

Cincinnati Enquirer, 9/4/56

To say that the members of the National Speleological Society are a determined group would be putting it mildly.

Yesterday, the cavers, with much reluctance, emerged from Crystal Cave after passing the Labor Day weekend digging and crawling through the vast network of pits and caverns that lie beneath the wooded palisades of Green River, 14 miles west of Cave City, Ky.

Their tireless efforts resulted in the finding of an underground river and a few new caverns-pieces to the puzzle which is the Crystal Cave system. With 32 miles of cave already found, the explorers estimate that 45 miles have yet to be uncovered, and they weren't going to stop until every inch is investigated and surveyed.


Floyd Collins, a trapper and cave explorer, discovered Crystal Cave under his father's farm, in the winter of 1917. A steel trap, set at the base of a sinkhole, disappeared. Seeking the cause of his loss, he was requred to crawl into a small crevice which ultimately led him into the seemingly endless, interlacing maze of passages.

The cave received national publicity in 1954 when a group of cavers from the NSS, doctors, scientists and newsmen, explored the sprawling system for a week. Beautiful rooms, exotic formations and medical discoveries were the fruits of this undertaking.

Since that time Crystal Cave has been the story of an entirely new underground world and the thirst of men who try to know it.

Roger Brucker, the leader of the latest venture, typifies the average caver. A slight, soft-spoken man of 27 from Yellow Springs, Ohio, he is intelligent and quiet. A sense of adventure seems to throb underneath his sedat mien.


At precisely 10 a.m. Saturday, Brucker led the seven-man team into a tube-like passageway a mile from Crystal Cave's main entrance. This was created six months ago by the cavers for exploration purposes. Jackhammers, dynamite and hundreds of man-hours were used to open it.

At the mouth of the entrance a chill wind was blowing at 15 miles an hour. In the exploration, cavers wear heavy underwear and outer clothing, boots, gloves and miner's hats and carry carbide lamps. Each man carries a flashlight, water canteen and a lunch that usually consists of dried beef, candy, sardines.

Brucker and his men walked back through the passage for 100 feet and dropped five more feet through a small hole. From there the exploration began.

Last night, when their adventurous yen was satisfied, temporarily at least, the speleologists "came back to life."

Brucker reported a new river. "At one point it was four feet wide and three to four inches deep with eyeless fish swimming in it," he said.

Ron Wallis, also from Yellow Springs, said that he found a possible new entrance.

The all-important concern of the cavers, however, was not the new finds, but more exploration in the future-and the solving of the Crystal Cave puzzle.

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