The Texas Caver

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The Texas Caver
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The Texas Caver
Texas Speleological Association
Texas Speleological Association
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Regional Speleology ( local )
Technical Speleology ( local )
serial ( sobekcm )
United States


General Note:
Contents: Buffalo Cave -- Caves as fallout shelters -- TSA convention -- Valdina Farms Project -- Long Caves of Texas -- Cave rescue seminar -- Bill Steele for NSS BOG -- NSS membership policy -- Magnetic Hole revisited -- El Doctor San Joaquin -- Texas NSS convention.
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Vol. 23, no. 02 (1978)
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See Extended description for more information.

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University of South Florida Library
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University of South Florida
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K26-04616 ( USFLDC DOI )
k26.4616 ( USFLDC Handle )
11350 ( karstportal - original NodeID )
0040-4233 ( ISSN )

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the TexascaveR Volume23, No.2, 1978 CONTENTS Buffalo Cave 19 Caves as Fallout Shelters 22 TSA Convention Valdina Farms Project. Long Caves of Texas Cave Rescue Seminar Bill Steele for NSS BOG NSS Membership Policy Magnetic Hole Revisited El Doctor & San Joaquin Texas NSS Convention 23 24 25 26 27 27 28 30 . 32 ** ** ** ** ** ** ** This Issue Edited by Bill Russell Staff: Marie Cole Cris Olejniczak The TEXAS CAVER is a bimonthly publication of the Texas Speleological Association (TSA)3 an internal organization of the National Speleological Society (NSS) and is published by James Jasek in Waco3 Texas. SUBSCRIPTIONS are $5.00 per year. Persons subscribing after the first of the year will receive all back issues for that year. Single copies are available at 90 each3 postpaid. The TEXAS CAVER openly invites contributors to submit: articles3 reports3 neWS3 cartoons3 cave maps3 caving articles3 and photographs (any size print bZ.ack & white or color print) .for publication in the TEXAS CAVER. Address all SUBSCRIPTIONS and EDITORIAL material to the editor: James Jasek3 l0l9 Melrose Dr.3 Waco3 Texas 767l0. I When sending in a change of address3 please include your old address. Persons interested in EXCHANGES or FOREIGN subscriptions should direct correspondence to the editor. ATTEND THE TSA CONVENTION The forthcomming TSA Convention in Austin, Texas, April 15 and 16 is an important event. This year Texas is responsible for the NSS convention in New Braunfels. All Texas cavers will have to cooperate to make this convention the success it should be. Perhaps the best place to find out what is needed for the convention and to bring forth new ideas is the TSA Convention. Chuck Stuehm has an excellent series of talks planned and there will be an unusually good Bar-B-Que by one of the TSA past masters of the art. And camping at Camp Ben McCullough is alone worth the trip to Austin. Texas is a large state and Texas cavers have diverse interests. Austin caves in Mexico. Dallas caves in New Mexico and Arkansas. The only Texas caves where one evere meets another caver are Gorman Falls and the Devil's Sinkhole. But Texas cavers do have more in common than Gorman Falls and the Sinkhole. They share an idea of caving that emphasizes good people going to good caves no matter where the cave is. If the Texas way of caving is not to be replaced by a less satisfying outing club approach we need to show the world what caving is about. And the world will be in Texas in June so lets go to Austin to be for them. * SEE YOU IN AUSTIN COVER PHOTO: Lisa Wilkes in the main passage of Buffalo Cave, Blanco County, Texas. Photo by Paul Fambro. Copyright The Texas Caver 1978


BUFFALO Access to Buffalo Cave has long been difficult, not due to the rocky t errain, but due to the legeno.ary hostility of the owner, who would only allow a few close friends on his land. He was one of the old time school of s h oot first and bury your mistakes. He regul arly patrolled his ranch on horseback with a rifle. According to local sources Lyndon Johnson and Ladybird w e r e interested in establishing a nature trail along the Perdernalas from the LBJ ranch to Johnson C ity. They obtained permission for a group of naturalists and secret service m e n to walk the proposed trail. Even though the trail would not cross his ranch the owner didn't want a "nature t rail" anywhere near his place and as soon as the group of trail makers were visible from his ranch he opened fire, scattering the group. The only casualty was the idea of a nature trail. CAVE By Bill Russell Finally the owners eyesight declined to where he could no longer adaquately protect his property, and he sold it to an Austin bank. The bank was more friendly but succumbed to economic pressure and subdivided the land. It is hoped that cavers can reach an accommodation with the new owners. Buffalo Cave is a long linear maze composed of parallel fissure passages connected by occasional cross passages. The opposite ends of the mapped cave are 1300 feet apart, but in no place is the maze over 90 feet wide. In the central part passages are larger and more numerous, with smaller passages extending from each end of the central maze. This central section is composed of a main passage 12 to 15 feet high and 5 to 6 feet wide, flanked by up to five parallel passages. Many of the passages are connected by a low open Martha Meacham views hands thrust through a row of holes in a thin partition known locally as the Post Office in Buffalo Cave. 19 Photo by Paul Fambro


20 LEFT Main Passage in Buffalo Cave Note the thin fallen slab, apparently an old partition between two passages that are now joined into one. Photo by Paul Fambro BELOW The Attic in Buffalo Cave A low wide area festooned with ceiling pendants. Photo by Paul Fambro


lea near the floor level This r o or level of the cave is only about 30 feet below the surface, so numerous entrances have developed. Nine surface sinks have been connected with ilie known cave. These sinks on the !surface are long linear features align e d NW-SE parallel to the cave passages. The largest are 10 to 15 feet wide and 20 to 30 feet deep and up to 200 feet long. A row of sinks to t h e SE of the known cave leads to low c rawlways that probably connect with 1the cave The cave appears to be d eveloped where a series of parallel joints intersected a very favorable bedding plane. This bedding plain is well exposed in local outcrops and appar ently channels water flow. The cave is developed in the Paleozoic Cap Mountain Limestone, and these rocks in the Buffalo cave area, and commonly elsewhere have lost most of their and permeability during long burial at depth. Thus caves develop onl y in favorable areas of fracturing, and tend to be composed of strongly joint controlled fissure passages. The cave drains to the SW and a small stream siphons at the downstream end. About 1000 feet beyond the end of the cave along the same fracturing is a sizeable spring with a flow many times the small cave stream. The most convenient entrance is a walk-in entrance in the central part of the maze. An easy climb down over dirtcovered breakdown leads to a narrow passage 3 to four feet wide and 15 feet high crossing the maze at an angle. In both directions from this entrance passage, the main passage of the cave can be easily followed. To the northeast the main passage soon breaks up into a series of smaller passages, but to the sw it continues past several sinks where it is partly blocked by breakdown. These blockages can easily be bypassed by crossing over to parallel passages. Connecting with the main passage at floor level is a wide low area with thousands of roof pendants--stalactite-Continued page 26 Paul Fambro extrudes himself through a small hole between passages. 21 Photo by Lisa Wilkes


THE USE OF TEXAS CAVES AS FALLOUT SHELTERS There are currently 27 Texas caves designated as fall-out shelters with a combined capicity of 26,609 persons. The rated capacity of individual caves ranges from 39 persons in Wonder Cave at San Marcos to 7947 persons in Caverns of Sonora. These capicity figures mean that in the case of nuclear attack 7947 people could find shelter from radioactive fall-out for two weeks in the Caverns of Sonora. In the past food and other materials for the comfort and support of the people have been stored in the cave to be available if needed. These materials have deteriorated over the years and can pollute the cave environment. The deteriorating supplies, the potentially undesirable publicity and the urge to "improve" the caves designated as fall-out sheltr s has prompted the Conservation Committee of the TSA to review the suitability of caves as fall-out shelters. It is clear to any visitor that 7947 people could not comfortably, if at all, find shelter for two weeks in Caverns of Sonora. Adequate ventilation, space and sanitation facilities are lacking. The capacity figures for caves were established early in the shelterprogram and were based on a figure of a given number of people per square foot of floor space. In the case of caves, all the floor space was considered usable without careful evaluation. Later standards are nore realistic and based on ventilation. The Corps of Engineers determined ventilation to be the limiting factor in the number of people who could occupy a shelter. The anount of ventilation needed is determined not by the need for oxygen, but by the heat produced by people. Approximately ten times as much air is required to carry away the heat produced by a person as to supply a person with oxygen. The fall-out shelter standards were developed for buildings where the walls are insulated. As cave walls are cool and more conductive they could absorb some of the heat produced; so a cave should not require as much By William Russell ventilation as a building. Unfortunately the ventilation is not actually measured, but is calculated from a table listing ilia numbers and size of openings. This might be adequate for buildings where resistance to air flow between openings is negligible, but is probably not adequate for caves. If caves are to be used as shelters actual ventilation should be measured. Most caves now desingated as shelters are unsuitable, and if left on the shelter list might suffer damage through publicity and improvements. In the event of the need for protection, people might actually try to use the caves for shelter only to be forced outside, whereas if they had used an adequate shelter they would have been safe. cavers should review the caves currently classed as shelters and try to have unsatisfacmry shelters removed from the list by pointing out their obvious inadequecies. Several caves classed as shelters are inhabited by bats. The health hazards from bats should be enough to remove these caves from the list. Other caves are inaccessable or lack the necessary ventilation. Most of the caves now designated as shelters are lacking in usable space and could not support enough people to warrant their use as a shelter. To remove a cave from the official list one has to convince the county Civil Defence Coordinator, at the county court house,that the cave is unsuitable. Cavers should cite actual measurements, maps and photographs Once the county coordinator is convinced the cave is inadequate he will contact the corps of Engineers to have it renoved from the official list. The majority of caves on the officia l fall-out shelter list date from their initial listing in 1965. Since then cave information has not been updated. As there has been little interest in fall-out shelters many of the obviously inadequate caves have not been renoved. These caves will remain on the list u n l ess positive action is taken to remove them. ATTEND THE TSA CONVENTION-AUSTIN, TEXAS: APRIL 15,16, 1978 22


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CONSERVATION: VALDINA FARMS RECHARGE PROJECT The Texas Water Rights Commission Avoids Real Issue: Will the Valdina Farms Project Work Austin (1/13/78) The Texas Water Rights Commission today concluded a hearing to approve an application by the Edwards Underground Water District to build a dam and diversion channel on Seco Creek at Valdina Farms Sinkhole, a large cave in northwestern Medina County. The action concluded four days of dissention-filled hearings in which several individuals and agencies, including the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, sought to convince the Commission that the project was inadvisable. The focus of the hearing desolved to questions of the effect of the recharge project on the Farms Salamander, a sp-cialized blind amphibian known to occur only in the cave, and the value of this salamander in comparison to water supply needs. The is now in a position to decided that the survival of the salamander is of; secondary importance to the additional groundwater the project promised to make available to the Edwards Aquifer. Disappointment was expressed by the opposing interests that the Commission failed to adequately consider the hydrological feasibility of the recharge project. University of California professor Sam SWeet argued that the cave is incapable of transmitting the quantities of water which the project will divert into the sinkhole. Water flow is to be increased fivefold in frequency and thirteenfold in volume over the maximum flow ever observed under conditions. This increase combined with evidence presented in a report commissioned by the E.U.W.D. that the cave presently fills with standing water led Sweet to contest conclusions of the project applicants that the increased flow would result in additional recharge to the aquifer. "If the cave backs up under one-thirteenth of the proposed input who can believe that the project can produce any benefit?" Sweet later said. "This is an expensive and pointless experiment in hydrology which will benefit no one." 24 Long-time Austin caver Bill Russell, who is familiar with the cave, conunented that "if they build the project the first flood will make the sinkhole the deepest lake in the county, and succeeding floods will just fill the cave with mud. u.s. Geological Survey studies show that a fault immediately south of the cave blocks easy groundwater access to the Edwards Aquifer, and in any case all of the water in Seco Creek"enters the aquifer through natural openings downstream. Stream-gauge records show that no useful amounts of water get past these natural recharge inlets." In testimony received by the Commission, Sweet also maintained that increased flooding of the cave would destroy both the habitat and food sources required by the Valdina Farms Salamander, leading to its extinction by a project of questionable merit. The recharge proposal also requires the approval of the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, who must evaluate its feasibility in the light of a reconunenda tion by the U.S. Department of the Interior that the construction be deined. News release by BITE (Biological Investigations of Troglobitie Eureyca.) LOST, 5 Jan '78: Chest harness of 2" black webbing with ascender box. Hidden Cave, Dark Canyon area, Carlsbad, NM. Return to: Thomas Reinbold 1003 Welsh St College Station, TX 77840 PH (713) 846-1669


BUFFALO CAVE BLANCO COUNTY, TEXAS Brunton and Tapa Survey by the BLANCO COUNTY CAVE SURVEY September 1970 Drafted by William Russell & Peter Sprouse / / 0 15 30 60 90 120 150 F!ET


THE LONG CAVES OF TEXAS 1. Powell's (Jack Pit} Cave 2. Indian Creek Cave 3. Caverns of Sonora 4. InnerSpace Caverns s. Cave-Without-a-Name 6. Airman's Cave 7. Longhorn Caverns 8. Prassell Ranch Cave 9. River Styx Cave 10. Stowers Cave The status of the long caves of Texa3 has been in tunooil ever since I started caving. Finally, after talking to lots of people and digging through the TSS files I've come up with the top ten long caves of Texas. Of course, there will be additions and corrections to b'lis list as time goes on. POWELL'S (JACK PIT) CAVE claims the number 1 spot and has for a long time at 16.20 km. This cave is still going with the possibility of many added kilometers, both upstream and downstream. The owner only allows major expeditions into the cave and this is one of the main reasons it has been mapped to 16.2 km. INDIAN CREEK CAVE is deemed the second longest cave in Texas at 6.71 km long. This cave has been closed for several years so exploration and mapping stopped around 1969-70. UTSS members, among others, were instrumental in the mapping of the cave. The figure 22,000 feet is an estimation of the mapped length and will be used until the exact figures can be tabulated. CAVERNS OF SONORA is the third longest at this time at 6.10 km. Most of this mapping was done by Abilene cavers and the UTSS back in the late 50's. The figure of 20,000 feet was arrived at by estimation and will be used until the actual notes can be tabulated. Unfortunately, the cave has not been totally mapped and the present owners do not allow anyone off the commercial trail. This is mostly because of the delicate helitites found throughout the cave. By DALE PATE March 3, 1978 16.20km 6. 7lkm 6.10km 4.5lkm 4.3lkm 3.4lkm 3.00km 2.62km 2.56km 2.39km 53,150 22,000 20,000 14,803 14,151 11,200 9,850 8,580 8,387 7,845 Menard Uvalde Sutton Williamson Kendall Travis Burnet Kendall King Kerr 25 INNERSPACE CAVENS is presently the fourth longest at 4.51 km. The cave was originally mapped from 1963 to 1966 by UTSS members and Dallas-Ft. Worth Brotto members. Members of the SWTG surveyed in the cave from 1968 to 1969. Since then, several including William Russell, Brian Peterson and William Elliott have done surveying in the cave. Potential for more passage is very great as more leads are pushed. CAVE-WITH-OUT-A-NAME has been known for a long time, but only recently Wayne Russell has been mapping and exploring past the major sumps. He has pushed the cave to 4.31 km to be fifth longest. Hopefully more cavers will try to start following Wayne's lead and get some good projects started with the long caves in Texas. AIRMAN'S CAVE is ranked sixth longest at the moment with lots of unexplored crawlways still waiting. Balconies and UT Grotto members have pushed the cave to 3.41 km. This was mostly done from 1971-1974. LONGHORN CAVERNS is presently ranked as the seventh longest at 3.00 km. It was mapped in 1971 at a TSA project and was continued by the Dallas-Ft. Worth Grotto to its present length. PRASSEL RANCH CAVE was mapped in 1969-1970 to its present length of 2.62 km by Roger Bartholomew and others. This makes it the eighth longest at present. RIVER STYX CAVE the nineth place at 2.56 km. It was mapped by many people from 1963 to 1975, but Mike Walsh and John Graves got the information together for publication in 1976.


Long Caves-Continued The tenth longest at present is STOWERS CAVE at 2.39 km. It was mapped by Roger Bartholomew and others in the late 60's or early 70's and completes the top ten long caves of Texas. Several caves are close to becoming one of the top ten and perhaps this will prompt different people to get the work done. As more accurate information becomes available it will be relayed to anyone interested by means of the Texas Caver. Meanwhile get out there and map. FIRST NATIONAL CAVE RESCUE SEMINAR Included in the February Internal Organizations Newsletter of the NSS, and printed on the official NSS letterhead is the following: The NATIONAL CAVE RESCUE COMMISSION is pleased to announce the FIRST National CAVE RESCUE SEMINAR. This seminar is to be given right here in Texas at the School of Medicine of the University of Texas San Antonio, June 12 through 16, 1978. The annoucement notes that the seminar Buffalo Cave-Continued like projections that were not deposited but left behind by solution. The flood water entering the cave has established a gravel-floored streamway through this section. Finally the large passages end, and to continue one must follow the low crawlway into which the cave drains. This crawl way soon narrows to a small mudcovered tube, half filled with water and organic debris--the Black Death Crawl. Only one person has ever entered the Black Death Crawl and he reported that it did not continue. He has since committed suicide, and whether or not the Black Death Crawl was a contributing factor, the crawl is not recommended. The spring entrance along the same fracture is passable, but only by getting wet and has not been pushed. Considerably more water flows from the spring than the small trickle entering the Black Death Crawl. This spring flow indicates that a large area of limestone outcrop is drained underground, and perhaps there are more caves in the vicinity. is given with the assistance of, among others, the National Parks Service, the Appalachian Search and Rescue Commission, the International Cave Rescue Commission, and the British Cave Rescue Organization. Subjects to be covered include the Underground Environment, Organization and Management, Tools and Equipment Medical Management, Extraction, Evacuation and Hauling Systems. Following the Seminar there will be trips arranged to local wild caves for the further enrichment of students who wish to continue their experience. You can participate for all five days for $95.00 or observe for only $50.00. Deadline is May 1, 1978. Send money to: Terry G. Jones Deputy Director National Cave Resuce Comm. 16240 San Pedro #257 San Antonio, Tx 78232 26 Know how to find the North Star It might get you safely home on a cold winter night.


BILL STEELE FOR NSS BOARD Bill Steele, an Austin resident when he is not caving, is a candidate for the NSS Board of Directors. Bill has a wide range of caving experience, and feels he can represent all Texans. H e has provided the following information. William Steele NSS 8072F, Austin, T exas. 29 years old. BA Indiana U nivers ity. Began caving as Explorer Boy Scout in 1963. Was active with the CRF in Flint Ridge from 1968-1972. Beginning in 1969, held the office of C hairman (twice), Vice-Chairman, Corresponding Secretary and Editor for the Bloomington Indiana Grotto. Was the Vice-Chairman of the 1973 NSS Conventi o n in Bloomington Indiana, masterminding such facets as the Possum Roast and the successful Auction of Speleo-Memorabilia. 1977 recipient o f the NSS Lew Bicking Award. Currently: Editor of Inside Earth, Board Member of the NSS Vertical Section, Member of editorial staff of Association for Mexican Cave Studies. Active expedition cav er--organized and led the 1977 Mexico Expedition that reached the sump at mnus 859 meters in Hemisphere. Camped 36 days underground in the past year as a part of the exploration of the deep caves of Mexico. Have spent the last four summers in wilderness areas of funtana exploring and surveying various alpine cave systems. Have caved in the the following states: Indiana, Kentucky, Georgia Tennesee, Virginia, West Virginia, Missouri, Montana, Utah, and Have been active caving in Mexico for a decade. Consider myself well read i n caving literature. Maintain a regular correspondence with speleologists both the USA and abroad. Am well publlshe d with writings in most major US caving journals including the soon to be Published Proceedings of the National Cave Symposium. Am active in the Planning of the 1978 NSS Convention in T exas Chairman of the Exploration S ession for the '78 convention. Bill Steele can be an effective sp okesman for Texas cavers and would like to talk with all interested cavers at the TSA meeting. Let him know how You feel the NSS can be improved. 27 A NEW MEMBERSHIP POLICY FOR THE NSS 1978 is a crucial time for the National Speleological Society. Increasing numbers of members are critical of the organization and feel they have little in common with the rest of the membership. The quality of the NSS News has declined to the point where knowledgeable cavers discuss whether an expanded Canadian cover or an NSS sponsored Inside Earth Magazine would be the best method to bring quality reporting to American Cavers. Western cavers, with their fragile caves on public land, denounce the NSS for what they see as reckless expansionism, encouraged by commercial interests. These are not problems that can be "solved," as they are essentially differences in life style. The NSS board does not need problem-solvers; it needs leaders. The identity of the NSS has long been somewhat vague. Should the NSS be a group of persons united by their strong sustained interest in caving, or should the NSS try to organize all who ever visit caves? This conflict is basic to many of the problems of the NSS. The real strength of the NSS is the knowledge, dedication and common interests of its members. These could be greatly strengthened by making the NSS less of a mass caving organization and more of a group of dedicated enthusiasts. The following changes would be greatly beneficial to the NSS: 1) Make membership in all grottos available to non-NSS members. This is now done in student grottos and is an excellent way to reach people and would legitimatize the defacto policy of many grottos. 2) Reinstate the endorsement policy and list in the annual membership list below each member, the names of a l l new members they have signed for. 3) Encourage grottos to advertise their existence through methods designed to reach cavers, such as registers at caves, rather than to recruit cavers from the general public. 4) Enrich the NSS News with long articles on exploration, and do not spend scarce resources printing publicit y for new cavers. Continued page 31


THE MAGNETIC HOLE REVISITED Compiled by Sheila Balsdon and Bill Russell Many years ago at a caver party Bill Russell was told the strange tale of Von Streeruwitz's Magnetic Hole. It seems that early settlers traveling across the flat desert of Transpecos Texas would follow a compass course from one mountain pass to the next. However, in a small area east of the present. town of Van Horn their compass no longer pointed north and they learned to ignore directional readings in this short section. When the first geologist for West Texas, William H. von Streeruwitz, arrived in the area, he was asked the cause of this strange phenomenon. He answered that it must be a magnetic anomaly caused by a body of magnetic ore at a shallow depth. Acting on this information, enterprising locals decided to sink a shaft in the center of the magnetic area. Digging was started but at a shallow depth they broke through into a deep void. They were unable to reach the bottom with all the rope they could assemble, and gave up the project. Von Streeruwitz later visi-ted the site and wrote a report. It was information from this report that was relayed to Bill at the party. Severa 1 years later an account was published in The Texas Caver as amusing anecdote. The only real fact remembered at that time was the unforgetable name of the author of the report William H. von Streeruwitz. After the account was published, one of the Aggie cavers from Houston remembered reading in the clipping file of the Houston Public Library an account of a Magnetic Hole near Van Horn. Sheila Balsdon checked out this report and found the following article from the Houston Chronicle, Feb. 28, 1932. TEXAS UNFATHOMED PIT MAY BE WORLD'S BIGGEST CAVE "A seemingly bottomless pit, which more than 4000 feet of rope failed to plumb, underlies a part of Hudspeth County, which is a region of mountain peaks and open valleys, according to Horace T. Chilton of Beeville, who has the information from one of the two or three persons who know of its existence. He tells the story of its discovery, recites that the entrance has been sealed for more than 40 years and notes a number of curious angles connected with it in the following article. 28 John E. Barlow, contractor to the United States army and pioneer ranchman, in 1886 began to dig a water well on his property about midway between Eagle Flat and Allamore in Hudspeth County, and north of the Texas and Pacific Railway. The first 30 feet was mixed with caliche. The next 20 feet was foliated limestone and so hard that it became necessary to use hard-rock drills and "single jacks" to make progress. With no idea that anything weird was about to develop, the men quit work one evening leaving their tools and a quantity of loose rock at the bottom of llie shaft. The rock was hoisted out the next morning and the drills again brought into play. Only a few blows had been struck when the drill suddenly sank to its head. The surprised drillers pulled it out. Through the hole, which stared at them like a malignant black eye, poured a swift rush of air. Lengthy conferences at the bottom of the shaft were manifestly useless. The men were brought hastily to top, glad to rest their feet on good sod instead of hollow sounding rock. A man was dispatched for a few sticks of dynamite. The long fuse was lighted, and with a dull explosion that became an echoing roar the charge shattered the rod bottom. Where there had been rock there was now nothing but the black empitness of a cavern mouth. Up from the depths came a steady draught of air, an eerie sort of blowing that did not tend to improve the poise of those gathered at the top to peer gingerly down the shaft. BOTTOM NOT FOUND But how deep was the thing? Ropes were collected. A weight was attached to one of the smaller ropes and the others were knotted together until, by measurement, there were more than feet of line, with the heavier ropes at we surface end. The weight was lowered through the shaft into the cavern. Bottom was not touched. The long line was brought up lowered again to make sure that it was swinging free and that the weight on the end was not resting on anything solid. Still there was no bottom. All the rope in that part of the country was in the line. No more was available. Continued next page


Magnetic Hole Revisited-The measured depth of 4000 feet indicated it was one of the deepest known caverns in the world. There remains the possibility mat it is the deepest. Only a well-equipped expedition can determine that. Then another strange thing was noticed. steel tools which were in the bottom of the shaft when the first blast of air rushed upward were found to be highly magnetized. The rock drills, for instance, would pick up their own weight in steel. It was known positively that they were not magnetized previous to that time. That led to another investigation. Any steel object held in the out-draft of air became magnetized almost at once. Shovels, knives, tools of all kinds, and even a pair of scissors belonging to Mr. Barlow's daughter were equally affected. Then the air current developed even more peculiarities. The out-draft continued steadily during the morning, but dwindled toward noon until it ceased. Then it reversed itself and the air poured downward into the cavern all afternoon. Steel objects held in the downward air current were not magnetized. Only the out-draft held that power. This is not a legend. The facts given here were furnished by J. S. Barlow, widely known consulting engineer of Dallas, and son of the late John E. Barlow, who made the discovery. J.S. Barlow was present while the shaft was being dug. He was there when the dynamite charge blew the bottom out of the shaft. He watched the vain attempts to measure the depth. He has held steel tools in the out-draft and tested their resulting magnetization. It was he who held his sister's sisters over the shaft. llie sister, who, in 1927, when the writer first heard of this thing, was living in El Paso, was also there. So were other members of the Barlow family. so, too, were various other persons who happened to be in that then remote section at the time. In 1927 one of the men who helped sink the shaft was still living in that region, and although very old, he remembered clearly all of the details. A comprehensive report on the surface geology of that area, together extensive topographic maps, was made ln 1886 by W.H. Von steeruwitz, at that time state geologist for west Texas under the geological department of Texas. Of 29 the report, printed in 1889, only a few copies remain, but J.S. Barlow has a carefully preserved set. In it are many references to the elder Mr. Barlow's various properties, and among other things it contains a full page plate of the Barlow family grouped on horseback at the foot of the Sierra Diablo. AIR CURRENTS LAID TO UNDERGROUND TIDE Mr. Von Steeruwitz, who spent considerable time at the shaft, attributed the air currents and their reversal of direction to tidal effects,but the younger Mr. Barlow does not recall just how that was explained. Unfortunately, no one thought to observe the air currents at night. Mr. Von Steeruwitz's opLn1on was that the magnetizing effects of the outward air current were due to the presence of a large body of magnetic ore somewhere in the cavern. These two theories admittedly are open to argument. Scientists to whom the questions were put were unable to advance satisfactory explanations. If, as some held, the air currents and their reversal were due to differences in temperature inside and outside the cavern, then there is no way to explain why the reversal occurred at noon, a time when no change, under the temperature theory, should have occurred. The extraordinary magnetizing effects of the out-draught left the scientific men at a loss. But they did not agree at all with Von Steeruwitz's theory. If Von Steeruwitz was correct in assuming the air currents were due to tidal effects, then they, in truth, were the breathing of a giant. It had long been noted that water from seasonal rains, often of torrential proportions, after flooding down the long valleys from the mountains collected in II k" h th h a s1n near w ere e s aft was dug, and disappeared into the ground in an unbelievably short time. Contour lines on the Von Steeruwitz topographic map show the location of the sink and the sweep of country draining into it. The sink itself is roughly egg-shaped with the small end to the southeast. It is five miles long and one mile wide. It lies between Arispe and Eagle Flat on the Texas and Pacific Railway and Grayton on the Southern Pacific Lines, and is in the angle formed by the junction of the two railroads. It is 4500 feet above sea level, and is surrounded by mountains.


Magnetic Hole Continued-Discovery of the cavern seemed to explain where all the water went. Whether enough of it had collected through the ages in that gigantic cistern to appreciably show tidal effects and by its ebb and flow create the air currents through the Barlow shaft will never be known until explorers investigate it. It may be the cavern is one of the largest as well as one of the deepest known to man. Anyone is privileged to make his own guess after considering the following brief items which may or may not have a bearing on the subject. Drills Strike Other Caverns. Ninety miles north, 35 degrees east, lies the famous Carlsbad Cavern, reputed to be largest in the world, and the end of which no man has ever seen. Sixty miles southwest of carlsbad and on an airline between it and the Barlow cavern the Sun Oil COmpany attempted to drill an oil well at the foot of Apache Peak in Culberson County. At 250 feet the drill went into a seeminlgy endless system of supposedly connected caverns. Two others are known to exist on the same airline. North of Sierra Blanca and about 30 miles northwest of the Barlow shaft another oil test-drilled across a cavity at 1100 feet, through which on some days there was a strong outdraught, and on others an equally strong suction. The old Barlow shaft could not be plugged, but it was sealed with rocks and timbers. It constituted a menace to the safety of livestock and occasional range riders. It has not been molested since 1886. The first thing whoever enters it find out why a draught of air can magnetize steel and to delve into the grander aspects of nature's subterranean excavations must face is a known drop of 4000 feet straight down into a more or less terrifying darkness. How much farther he must go to reach bottom he alone will be able to tell when and if he returns to safety and the clear light of day at the top. With this additional information and a relatively accurate location only a few miles from Interstate 10, the magnetic hole, if it does exist could undoubledly be located. Perhaps an air photo would be a convenient way to look for the tailings pile from the shaft, which should be visable even now. The area is underlain by about 500 feet of potentially cave-forming Finley Limestone. EL DOCTOR AND SAN JOAQUIN, QUERETERO, MEXICO Thanksgiving & Christmas 1977 by Patty l4othes Roy Jameson and I first went to the El Doctor area about 60 miles west of Queretero Mexico in November 1977. To the best of our knowledge we are the first cavers to have visited the area. Large dolines on the topographic maps led us to believe that would be caves on the 3000 meter hight plateau. After 5 days of busy hikinq w7 had dropped 8 dead-bottomed pits. One other de Rincon, went about 100 meters deep in 5 drops, and ended in a mud plug. Figuring the northern portion of the area would yield little, we left it unchecked and went to San Joaquin, which is 4 miles east of El Doctor and at lower elevation. The first evening there we found Sotano de los Herreras, an arroyo cave a horizontal entrance, and mapped and photographed the first 300 feet up to the first drop before heading back to Austin. Roy and I returned at Christmas for one week to finish Herreras (89m deep and 510m long). We also discovered and began mapping two new caves. Cueva del Sal to was mapped 600 meters horizontally and 144 meters vertically to a large mul tileveled stream passage. Most impressive was the 90m cylindrical pit located near Salta's wruk in entrance. Another cave (unamed) trends down dip and has been mapped 100 meters. caves continue. We discovered 7 more caves in the vicinity of San Joaquin. Topgraphic and geologic maps and air photos show numerous sinks and closed valleys to the north and east of San Joaquin. Return trips are planned for March and May, 1978. What did the daddy jurnar say to the mother jurnar? Do you think ours will be a left or a right? THE END (FOR NOW) 30


NSS Membership Continued-5) Change the Ralph w. Stone award from providing research support for a graduate student to provide research support for a non-student. Graduate students in the field of speleology have access to many sources of support. The NSS should actively encourage scientific activity among non-students. Adoption of these policies should strengthen the NSS by creating an organization of those unified by their devotion to caving. The NSS should not attempt to be an exclusive organization; it should stress that all are welcome. The message should be: If a person has a strong sustained interest in caving then he should join the NSS. These views are not to my knowledge the views of any candidate for the NSS Board, but only express my view-point. William Russell ,-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------, NSS '78 CONVENTION PRE-REGISTRATION FORM Mah check payable to: 1978 NSS Convention Name Address City Phone Mail check and completed form to: Karen Kastning N.S.S. '78 Registration Chairman P 0. Box 13165 Austin, Texas 78711 State Zip NSS No. PRE-REGISTRATION DEADLINE: JUNE I 1978 Refunds: lfnotitied by June 1st, full ; Between June 2nd-15 th, Y2; After June 15th none Name Tag Information (Please Print) Names NSS No Affiliation In case of emergency, contact: ( ) 31 Registration Fees: prices will be higher at the gate: No. of Fee Total persons Non-NSS Member 20.00 NSS Member (13+) 15. 00 Children (6-12 years) 8.00 Infants & Toddlers (-6) n/c Patch (Deep in the Karst of Texas) 2.00 Field Trip Deposit-Biology 10.00 Field Trip Deposit-Geology 10.00 Grand Total To assist the Convention Committee in serving you, please advise: Will you need transportation upon arrival by: plane bus rail none _ Do you plan to stay at Compground Hotel Faust (see above) Bring R V ? Would you be interested in participating in a group breakfast plan? Yes No __


The Texas Caver 1019 Melrose Dr Waco, Texas 7671 0 Forwarding Postage Guaranteed PRE-REGISTAR FOR NSS '78 CONVENTION Pre-registration deadline: June 1, 1978 BULK RATE US. Postage PAID Permit No.1423 Waco, Tx. 76710 While no one should have to cut up their Texas Caver, if you dont have access to a copy machine, cut out the NSS '78 Convention pre-registration form on the back of this page and pre-register for the New Braunfels NSS Convention. This is the first Texas NSS convention in a long time and everyone should be there. By pre-registration you save yourself money and at the same time give the Convention Committee money they need to pay expenses. This will be one of the best NSS conventions evere, as Texas is a place where cavers from across United States (and Mexico) can meet. With the increasing cost of imported gasoline there might never again be a convention to rival the Texas New Braunfels convention. This is the chance of a lifetime-dont miss it. ATTEND THE TSA CONVENTION-AUSTIN, TEXAS: APRIL 15-16, 1978

Contents: Buffalo Cave
Caves as fallout shelters --
TSA convention --
Valdina Farms Project --
Long Caves of Texas --
Cave rescue seminar --
Bill Steele for NSS BOG --
NSS membership policy --
Magnetic Hole revisited --
El Doctor & San Joaquin --
Texas NSS convention.