Black Friday 2020 Discovery in Grassy Cove Saltpeter Cave

On a cool March Friday in 1972, John Wallace checked out his 4 seat airplane on the Charlie Brown Airport in Atlanta for a flight to Tennessee. The plan was for John’s spouse Youlanda, and their kids Paul and Erika together with Artwork Smith, and Jack Tempo to drive as much as the Cumberland Mountain State Park in Crossville, Tennessee and hire a cabin for the weekend. My spouse Kathy, our six-year-old daughter, Deanna and I might fly with John to the Crossville Memorial Airport in Crossville and we’d spend a day of caving the subsequent day.

We’d alternate driving and flying in an effort to have transportation from the airport to the caves we visited within the southeast. Half of the group would fly and the opposite half would drive. This journey was fairly a pleasant one alongside the interstate after which we adopted the state street into Crossville. It was after darkish after we arrived and the airport’s lights weren’t on. The airport is on high of a mountain and we had been a little bit nervous about discovering a spot to land. John’s spouse was there however couldn’t contact anybody on the airport. John ultimately managed to radio somebody they usually turned on the lights.

It was a big cabin on the park and we settled in for night time of relaxation earlier than the journey the subsequent day. We deliberate to go to Devils Sink Gap with the household after which the 4 of us would discover Grassy Cove Saltpeter Cave on the opposite aspect of the mountain. Kathy and Deanna spent a stunning day climbing across the park whereas we went caving.

A couple of miles southeast of Crossville is positioned Grassy Cove, A despair between two mountains that by all rights needs to be a giant pure lake. The rain water that falls within the cove runs north right into a cave, then emerges on the Devils Sink Gap, south of the cove and over the mountain. This lengthy mountain comprises many caves and a serious stream that stream utterly underneath it. Grassy Cove Saltpeter Cave is well-known for being a dusty cave and mud masks are useful to keep away from histoplasmosis, a lung illness widespread in dusty caves and hen homes. I did come down with a lightweight case of this later and it might very properly have been from this cave. The physician needed to know if I had been round any hen homes.

We entered the cave and debated about exploring the west dry passages or to enterprise down the waterfall on the east finish of the cave. There have been reported to be extra caves under the water fall. Nevertheless, ropes could be required and we weren’t ready for that. The water fall room sounded too good to go up so we opted for happening by the chasm and to the water fall.

The Chasm is a brief drop that may be climbed for those who chimney out to a slender portion of the drop. We nonetheless selected to make use of the rope for the drop. We continued right down to the waterfall room and poked round on the lookout for any simple result in proceed on. John was checking behind a big rock on the north aspect of the passage when he seen air blowing from the rocks. All of us received excited and began serving to with the straightforward dig.

In lower than an hour we had a small gap that seemed to open up under. I used to be elected to provide it a attempt, I’m not positive why I used to be first however I used to be grateful. I went ft first into the outlet eradicating my arduous hat in an effort to squeeze by. On the backside there was a low craw that went to the northeast for about 50 ft after which a ledge with a brief drop of about 5 ft into a big room sloping downward. I research the ground and couldn’t make out any tracks. I sat there yelling encouragement to the others to return on down. We had discovered one thing huge.

I felt like Neil Armstrong on the moon after I made that first step on the ground under and left that first foot print the place nobody had ever stepped earlier than. The mud had a black coating on high and once you raised your foot it left a really clear orange print about 1 inch deep. It felt unusual to stroll down into that massive room after which look again on the lonely set of foot prints that will quickly flip right into a well-worn path.

We explored the one thousand ft of sixty ft large and thirty ft excessive passage for the remainder of the day, discovering formations alongside the west wall and crystal gypsum flowers protecting the ground because the ceiling grew to become decrease close to the tip. We crawled by some breakdown right into a a lot smaller room on the finish and will discover no approach to proceed.

We had been all very enthusiastic about our new discover and deliberate to return to map this new part the next month. We returned on Saturday, April 22, 1972 with the extra help of my spouse’s cousin, Invoice Meier, and mapped the March 18th Discovery. I used to be working for Eastman Kodak Co. On the time and had entry to the most recent house film cameras. I used to be attempting out a brand new mannequin with very low gentle functionality for taking films within the cave. We used a Coleman Lantern for the sunshine supply and the shutter velocity set sluggish to seize as a lot gentle as potential. These brief films may be considered on my caving site.

When Jack Tempo moved to Nashville he advised the caving group there concerning the discovery. Three years later in 1975 a bunch of Nashville cavers pushed the tip of the Georgia Room and found the Nashville Extension, a stream passage that prolonged the cave far underneath the mountain. That is the explanation we go into caves, to see what’s there.

As of the shut of 2013, the most important room in Grassy Cove Saltpeter Cave doesn’t have a reputation. As I used to be the primary particular person to set foot there, I benefit from naming the passage that averages thirty ft excessive by sixty ft large, and one thousand ft lengthy, the “Georgia Room.”

Grassy Cove Saltpeter Cave now ranks eleventh within the state of Tennessee for the longest cave. I want to assume that we made it a little bit simpler for future cavers to find the miles of cave that adopted on this nice cave. Nice discoveries had been made within the following years, after which within the late 70’s the Smoky Mountain Grotto sealed our small gap with a slab of concrete marked “S.M.G.”

1 Blue Spring Cave 33 miles

2 Cumberland Caverns 27 miles

three Xanadu Cave System 23 miles

four Rumbling falls Cave 15 miles

5 Nunley Mountain Cave System 15 miles

6 Massive Bone Cave 15 miles

7 Snail Shell Cave System 9 miles

eight Rice Cave 9 miles

9 Cuyler Cave eight miles

10 Dunbar Cave eight miles

11 Grassy Cove Saltpeter Cave eight miles

12 Wolf River 7 miles

13 Haws Spring Cave 7 miles

14 Zarathustra 7 miles

15 Camps Gulf Cave 6 miles

This was the primary main discovery that I used to be concerned with and I’ve been extra enthusiastic about caving than ever and the problem of not solely exploring however documenting caves with maps, photos, films, and articles.

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