Cave Talk

Cave Talk

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Cave Talk
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Cave Talk
National Cave Association
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Cave Talk is a publication of the National Caves Association, a non-profit trade association founded in 1965 by a small group of private show cave owners. These initial members sought to bring together show cave owners and operators from across the United States to promote the show cave industry to the public, to share information and ideas, and to lobby for legislation favorable to the show cave industry.
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June 2017
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Robert A. Holt PO Box 625, Cobleskill, NY 12043 E xecutive Director Phone: 518 231 5420 E mail: June 2016 Note from the executive director Greetings As I write to you it is M emorial Day weekend it s 95 degrees here in upstate New York! I hope you al l had a wonderful and very busy unofficial kick off to the summer season. In this edition you will find some interesting stories that have made the national news this past month. Rod Horrocks of Carlsbad Caverns w as interviewed on the Today Show by Al Roker in observance of the National Parks Service s Centennial Celebration. Most recently, Hidden River Cave made the news when a hard hit rain storm sent high water into the cave while an advent ure tour was taking place. Of course the media fielded the news as people trapped. Dave Foster gives us the story. And our friends at Meramec Caverns are still not open. You ll read the latest on the Environmental Protection Agency asking the cave to stay closed for now. Claudia Yundt will give you a teaser as to what s to come at the 2016 convention this fall in Indiana. Get yo urself prepared for a lot of Hoo sier hospitality! Susan Berdeaux will give you the code in this issue for booking your room at the French Lick Resort Within the next few weeks I will be sending you the convention registration forms Watch for both a n e blast and postal mailing. We have another fa ntastic NCA Buyers Talk article by th at fantastic guy himself, Jeff Campbell from the one and only Fantastic Caverns. Do you ever ask yourself W hat s my be st seller? Find out what advice Jeff has to offer about the subject! Best Regards Bob Hol t Joan Bogart relocates Joan moved to Kansas City. Her new address is: Joan Bogart 2105 NE 75th St Glad stone, MO 64118 816 415 3625 OFFICERS President : Patty Perlaky Raccoon Mt. Caverns, TN Ph: 423 821 9403 Vice President : John Graves Luray Caverns, VA Ph: 540 743 6551 john.graves@luraycaverns. com Secretary Treasurer : Bob Holt Mercer Caverns, CA Ph: 518 231 5420 Past President : Steve Rawlings Mercer Caverns, CA Ph: 209 728 2101 REGIONAL DIRECTORS Region One : (CT, DE, ME, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT) Rob Arey Polar Caves Park NH Ph: 603 536 1888 Region Two : (MD, VA, WV, KY) Denise Bell Seneca Caverns, OH Ph: 419 483 6711 Region Three : (IL, IN, MI, OH) Claudia Yundt Squire Boone Caverns, IN Ph: 812 732 4382 Region Four : (AR, IA, KS, MO, NE) Dennis Boyer War Eagle Cavern, AR Ph: 479 789 2909 Region Five : (MN, MT, ND, SD, WI) Tom Hagen Rushmore Cave, SD Ph: 60 5 255 4467 Region Six : (CA, ID, NV, OR, WA, AK, HI, Barbados, Bermuda) Matt Doyle Lake Shasta Caverns, CA Ph: 800 795 CAVE Region Seven : (AZ, CO, NM, UT, WY) Steve Beckley Glenwood Caverns, CO Ph: 970 945 4CAV Region Eight : (LA, OK, TX) Ed Mayfield Caverns of Sonora, TX Ph: 325 387 3105 Region Nine : (AL, FL, GA, MS, NC, SC, TN ) Tim Lacy DeSoto Caverns Park AL Ph: 256 378 7252 D IRECTOR EMERITUS Steve Runkle Cave of the Winds, CO Ph: 719 685 5444


T ODAY S HOW Al Roker talks with cave specialist Rod Horrocks Those who donned their hiking shoes and headed to the Carlsbad Caverns probably didn't expect a free celebrity sighting along with the entrance fee. Sunday morning May 8 Al Roker and a production crew from the Today Show descended into the cave to film a segment for a series honoring the National Park Servi ce's Centennial Anniversary. The segment aired on Tuesday morning May 10 Today Show. For one week, the Tod ay Show hit parks all over the country to bring some of the United States' most beautiful landscapes and natural formations into the homes of its audience. And New Mexico in one segment; the crew head ed over to White Sands National Monument near Alamogordo after filming in the cave. Roker said while he had no say in which destinations were chosen for the series, members of the show were trying to feature national parks that aren't as well known as Yellow stone or Yosemite. However, Roker said the Carlsbad Caverns and the White Sands were two New Mexico destinations that he's always wanted to vis it. "Kind of cool, so the two places that I've always wanted to see," he said. The crew knew beforehand that the elevators were out of service and that they'd have to make the journey on foot. Despite the four hours the crew had budgeted for the steep walk Roker was undeterred. "I have kind of a gamy knee, but I'll just take my time," he said. While in the cave Roker had a personal tour guide in Rod Horrocks, Cave Specialist. Roker also interviewed Rod which can be viewed by using this link: caverns al roker takes you inside the natural wonder 682664515925 The film crew had arrived three days bef ore the shoot to prepare and Roker had been in the area since Saturday May 9 He said it was his first visit to New Mexico and described the landscape as "very Roadrunner, Coyote." On the drive up to the caverns, Roker said he and the crew encountered many of the state's animals such as barbary sheep and deer. "We saw a sheriff on the way, just outside, I guess a couple of cattle got loose," he said. Unfortunately, Roker said he was so tired from the long trip that he was unable to try out any of the local fare. But there was one iconic restaurant that did get some facetime with the Today Show celebrity. "I went to McDonalds and called it a night," Roker said. Connie Lee and Maddy Hayden, Carlsbad Current Argus Horrocks in observance of the National Park Service Centennial year. Al Roker and members of Carlsbad Caverns National Park head into the cave. (Photo: Connie Lee/Current Argus)


Hidden River Cave deals with national media attention after rain storm raises water level while adventure tour in cave Dave Foster, the Executive Director of Hidden River Cave and the American Cave Museum in Horse Cave, Kentucky tells us that they were ex pecting only a 15% chance of rain on Thursday May 26; but that prediction did not hold true as a deluge of rain hit the area extremely hard while an adventure tour of 19 college students were in the cave. They have an emergency plan in place to get folks out of the cave or to higher areas within the cave in the event of high water as this happened to them once before in 2012. Dave sped home to get his boots, called 911 to alert them to be ready should they need assistance and ran into the flooded cave to find them. If he didn't act fast, he thought, the group of guides and college students there on a five hour tour could be in there until the water receded. Dave said they all made it out safely after navigating deep water, rushing currents and mud so thick it sucked off a police chief's boot. When they came out they were surrounded by a huge fire and rescue p arty ready to help and members of the media who reported such headlines as e through neck News quickly spread via national media outlets and reports were on Good Morning America and other tv and radio networks on Friday morning the media know that no one was in any danger as they were not such stories. The first thoughts that come to mind when something like this makes national news is who next will want to impose some new guideline for our industry? We ing one of the safest things to do in a cave. Dave said he's turning his attention to any safety updates that might help prevent another close call. His worry after this fl ood is communication. The group entered the cave around 10 a.m., and when the rain started hours later there was no way to warn them to hurry back above ground. a telephone line. Dave also said he will consider stashing warm clothes and supplies deep in his cave. But after spelunking there for 30 years, he said he knows the cave and how the water rises in it, and was confident that he had enough time to get ever ybody out safely. The rescue party awaiting topside wer e all trained for river rescues which is all well and good however, Dave suggested we all consider inviting our local recue folks to spend time touri ng our facilities doing some on site training for our needs Bob Holt


Convention is just around the corner Summer is about here so that means convention is right around the corner! My crew and I have been working hard on making this convention an educational but fun time for our NCA Family. We are so honored to be hosting the 51 st NCA Convention Here is a taste of what to expect during the convention. Cracker Barrel. We will have questions posted ahead of t ime that you, our members have given us. This will allow everyone a chance to think about the topics before actually going into the Cracker Barrel. We already have two of the questions on the roster. If you have a topic you would like us to discuss please e mail mail me at Our Field Day will be to Indiana Caverns, downtown Corydon and Squire Boone Caverns We will be taking a tour of Indiana Caverns and they will have several other stations for us to learn about other aspects of the cave and the property. Our visit to downtown Corydon will give you a taste of our small quant town that we love! It was the first state capitol of Indiana and this year is our 200 th anniversary! Then the adventure will take us to Squire Boone Caverns for tours of th e NEW passageway, village and ziplining. Then our evening activities will be food and square dancing! s. Get those outfits ready!! wait to see everyone dressed up! The DJ is ready to show us Last but not least. When you are planni ng your driving time/air flight etc. Bluespring Caverns and Marengo Cave are preparing for your visit too! Monday morning (Sept. 19 th ) Bluespring Caverns will have special tours available for all NCA members! Then on Friday morning (Sept. 23 rd ) Marengo Cave will have special to urs available for NCA members. Please take advantage of their hospitality and plan on seeing 4 caves during 1 convention! Flying in? There are two airports to choose from: Louisville, KY is 83 miles/1 hour 20 minutes. Indianapolis, IN is 2 hours via a shortcut or 2 hours 30 minutes via the interstate. Either way you will need to rent a car. The excitement in Indiana to host this ye incredible. Please, please consider attending. We are going to have information packed seminars, a vendor show, time just to talk a nd a fun filled convention. If you have never attended a convention you are really missing out. I personally have learned so much from this wonderful group of people and the things I have learned have helped me make our cave a better and more profitabl e cave! Come and hang out with us Hoosiers, I know you will learn something and enjoy yourself while you are here! See you in September! Claudia Next Page Book Your Hotel Room at the French Lick Resort Squire Boone Village & Grist Mill


Convention hotel now b ooking! Happy summer season! Here's hoping all will be enjoying great busin ess. It's not too early to start thinking about our annual meeting in Indiana this fall. Claudia and her staff have been very busy for the last several months, getting everything in place. Everyone got their 70's outfit? Reservations can be made eith er over the phone or online. Either way, you will need to use the code 0916NCA The call in number i s 1 888 936 9360 The link to provide for online reservations is ; Be sure you use the code!!! The cut off date is August 18, after which you will be taking your chances on both availability and rate. Don't miss out! Looking forward to seeing everyone in Indiana! Susan Berdeaux Convention Coordinator Watch For Convention R egistration Coming In The Next Few Weeks Fred Flintstone hangs out at Bridal Cave According to Steve Thompson, t he most famous caveman in America is even a Bridal Cave fan! sure want to take a cruise with him in that cool car!


Meramec Caverns remained closed on Memorial Day weekend Outdoor opportunities for the traditional start of the summer season did not include tours of Meramec Caverns on the holiday weekend. Barring a last minute reprieve from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the cave remain ed closed because of potentially harmful vapors that were discovered late last year. Visitors to the popular Franklin County tourist destination are down 90 pe rcent since March, when the cave was closed. Turilli said he has been frustrated by that measured above a level of health concern. TCE is a solvent used mainly to remove grease from metal parts but also is an ingredient in adhesives, paint removers and ot her products. The environmental agency classifies it as a carcinogen, or potential cause of cancer. The EPA says the vapors in the caves likely came from a former auto parts factory and a landfill more than 4 miles away in Sullivan. Both are associated wit TRW, is responsible for the costs of reducing the levels of TCE in the caverns. The work is expected to involve improvements to air ventilation systems. The concentrati ons of vapors in the more famous upper portion of the cave have been reduced but are still above the levels of health concern, according to EPA spokeswoman Angela Brees. A reopening date has not been determined, she added. Meramec Caverns has laid off about half of its 100 employees, Turilli said. The gift shop, motel and restaurant are open, and visitors can still enjoy riverboat rides, canoe and raft trips, panning for g ems camping and zip lining. But main attraction is the 80 minute walking tour through the ancient mineral formations and the advertised hideout for outlaw Jesse James. The cool year round temperatures in the shuttered caves were especially appreciated by visitors in the hi gh summer sea s on In nearby Stanton, motels, restaurants and the Jesse James Wax Museum are supported by cave tourists and have also taken a hit. The cave off Interstate 44 about 60 miles southwest of St. Louis, had just reopened in February after a complete remodel the flooding is connected to the lev els of TCE in the air. concentrations. Air flow systems were upgraded, and the concentrations remained acceptable for the next few years. In 2011, the EPA lowered the level at which exposure to TCE is believed to pose health risks, based on new research. Late last year, tests showed the vapors were above the new level of concern, and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry recommend ed in February that cave workers not be exposed to the TCE levels detected there. Turilli s St. Louis Post Dispatch


Natural treasure: Diggers searching golf course sinkhole for underground caves Although the term images of pirates, gold filled wooden chests and that one guy on the beach with a metal detector, Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris and his dig team think they may have a different kind of treasure un der their feet in Missouri. Last May, a sinkhole opened up at the golf course at Big Preserve after heavy rainfall. Nobody was injured and the initial plan was to fill it up with massive boulders, smooth it over and get back to hacking aw ay on the green. Morris has something of a fascination with hidden, underground caves in the area his interest dates back to 1993, when he uncovered a formation described by National after five years of searching. After it was noted that water sprung up that the two could possibly be connected via a long underground cave system, so he and his team stepped in. Per f the Rock and we hope the best is Not only did they prevent the filling of the hole, they have expanded the site considerably since its first appearance. The sinkhole is now 12 times larger than it was 10 months ago, as it measures 200 feet wide, 170 feet long and 100 feet deep. The crew has not found a cavern similar to that which Morris found 23 years ago, but he has been pleased with the work that has gone on so far and will continue the dig in hopes of uncovering the system. excited about our chances to find a great cavern, but whether we find a cave or not, the incredible formations Despite all the dirt and digging, Top of the Rock is still a functionin g golf course and will be holding the Pro Shops Legends of Golf Tournament later this year. Nick Martin writes for The Early Lead, covering anything and everything of interest in the sports world and separating facts from falsehoods for re aders. He is also a senior at Duke and still plays Donkey Kong 64. Congratulations! We would like to extend our congratulations to both Bridal Cave at Thunder Mountain Park and Ohio Caverns for receiving the 2016 Certificate of Excellence from Tripadvisor.


NCA Buyer s Talk: I would like to take a moment to thank everyone for the 2015 Best of Cave Talk Award. Whenever someone asks something of me, for better or worse, I give my all. A long time ago I was told that the NCA is a place to meet with people at sure is true. This is a diverse group with all kinds of experience. There is so much to learn from one another and I look forward to reading Cave Talk articles from even more of us in the future. When I was younger I drea bestseller. Did you mean the total number of units or the number of units sold per person. Or maybe you meant total volume or volume per person. So in my youth you could ask me that question a nd I would be prepared to give you not only the top seller in volume, volume per guest, total units sold, and total units per enough I would tell you all of that for #2 through #10 as well. As time went by it occurred to me there is a flip side to that question that no one ever ther? These questions bounced around inside my head for a while and as with most things, I filed it in my brain under important, it fairly regularly and finally decided I should start doing something about it. At the end of the 1996 season, as usual, I went over how each retail category performed. As always the wood department (locally made cedar, oak, sassafras souvenirs) was only 1.5% of sales. I decided that 1.5% was just not eno money to order anything if I was wrong. The dollars that would have funded that department went to the top go to any new merchandise; instead I committed that money to existing selection. This ensured the only change to the product line was the discontinued cedar boxes and their ilk. In addition, not only did I eliminate those ite ms, I also removed their display from the sales floor entirely. This took a retail space that was hard to maneuver during the travel season and made it a little less congested. In the end it was a person sales were up 8%. The results of elimi nating an entire display and the merchandise on it emboldened me. At the end of the season the worst selling category was now 4% of annual sales, but 4% is a little more money. I decided to risk it, but save a little budget money back just in case I was person spending was up higher than normal. t shirts? was that we had kids items in 2 of gotten the year before. Coming off these successes I decided to do an in depth evaluation of each item in the store. I calculated the per person spending of EVERY item. In addition, I also figured the per an education. were actually high theft i tems. I quickly replaced the easy to pocket merchandise while at the same time I decided to send the high were losing another gross to breakage. Obviousl y that makes them a lot less profitable. have to break a few eggs to make an omelet Once I had the per pe rson results of everything I had to decide were the line was. Of course not each item can be the best seller, however it was/is my belief that each item can be one of the best sellers. There was no magic retailer formula


average per person for all items combined and that was the goal to beat. Over the next oves on just like everything else. At the same time I was also looking broader, by category. Here are the different departments we had in use 20 years ago: Jewelry Rocks and Minerals Onyx Printed (books, postcards etc) Educational Food and Beverage Ozarks Made/Wood Toys and Plush Apparel FC collectibles Film Miscellaneous The categories in red did not have enough sales to keep pace with the rest of the line up except for film. We kept it as a customer convenience until film cameras were gone from the scene. Today the remaining departments generate an average 75¢ per visit or. else, we had dozens of pad printed souvenirs. At any given point we had 5 10 different coffee mugs available, all of which were the same as the attractions down the road except theirs had a different attraction name. After looking at many different industries I decided that one fully custom c offee mug had way more value tha n those cookie cutter ones we were selling. Since it could b e found nowhere else it allowed us to control the price. one FC shot glass, two sizes. bells, no plates, no salt and pepper shakers, no coin purses, no back scratchers etc. etc. None of these items passed the test. We still carried all of these things and more in the mid ava ilable because a small handful of people each year bought them. None of it really generated the revenue to justify the valuable display space they were taking up.


The typical display is required to generate 20¢ per person except in the case of a jewelry display, like the one above. These displays must meet a 25¢ goal streamlinin items we are able to order more depth, which means we seldom run out of anything. We need fewer displays, which While these things are subtle, they still increase sales. going. I evaluate everything nearly every fall to make sure it passes the cut. In the end though, I never cringe when I hear someone ask Now I can confidently tell you that everything is my best seller. Jeff Campbell Fantastic Caverns WNS R eport USFWS/CBD, etc. The USFWS decided against designating any caves, mines, or forests as critical habitat fo r the northern long eared bat. The concern is that a designation would increase the risk of vandalism and disturbances. The Center for Biological Diversity disagrees and claims there is no evidence to support the concerns. Defenders of Wildlife filed a federal complaint wanting the court to make Fish & Wildlife reconsider the listing. New Locations: For the first time, a bat in Rhode Island tested positive for WNS. Also, it has spread in Wisconsin it is now present in 14 counties. In a Grant County mine, the first place in Wisconsin that WNS was found (2014), there was a 94% drop in population. Western States: The western states have been busy asking the public to report any unusual bat activity Oregon has a website for reporting California is starting a webpage for WNS, currently being constructed. Other: TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) is installing a total of 25 bat roosts at 5 locations as part of a conservation effort. Patty Perlaky WNS Chair The typical display is required to generate 20¢ per person except in the case of a jewelry display, like the one above. These displays must meet a 25¢ goal.


Many of you are familiar with Interstate Graphics of Morristown, Inc. as we already print rack cards or brochures Interstate has been handling printing jobs for the tourism industry since the mid 1990s. We print millions of rack several times. We pass on the best prices we can to our customer s and stay on top of the entire job through finished product and we try to pass on updates as soon as we receive them, including any additiona l charges for changes made or extra fees associated with delivery problems. We print digital, sheet fed and web jobs. We are now working with a free lance designer who has many, many years of experience and who offers us really good rates! Keith Manis can make changes to your native files or create a job from scratch relationship with him. (Several of us were former employees of Morrison Printing, here in Morristown, until it went out of business in 2009.) Neiman Marcus, Alfred Knopf Publishers, University of Tennessee, John Hopkins University, and Architectural Digest, among others. Keith has won Tennessee Press Association awards for various ad d esigns, and received the recognition of Adobe Software Company as one of their "Adobe Certified Experts." ************* INDUSTRY UPDATE: a difference in the quantities our customers have ordered from us over the last several months. ************* just give us a call. We can handle it! Email Joy Herman for a quote request at or call direct to 1 888 343 0111.


Monthly Historical P hoto Shenandoah Caverns This photograph is of the original Shenandoah Caverns Lodge in 1923. The top story was a full service hotel until it burned in a fire in 1957. Do You Have A Historical Photo To Share? Now that our 50 th like to continue this column to include a photo from our member caves. If you have a picture to s hare, please send me a digital copy that might include people, a building, or cave scene with names and a description. Thanks, Bob Calendar of Events NSS Convention 2016, Ely, Nevada, July 17 23, 2016 NCA Convention 2016, Host: Squire Boone Caverns, French Lick, Indiana, September 19 23, 2016 Smok y Mountain Gift Show 201 6 Sevierville, Tennessee, November 1 4, 2016; Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg, Tennessee, November 2 5, 2016 IAAPA 2016, Orlando, Florida, November 15 18 2016 Tucson Gem and Mineral Shows 2017, Tucson, Arizona, January 28 February 12, 2017 NCA Mid Winter Board of Directors Meeting, Renaissance Airport Hotel, St. Louis, Missouri, February 2 6 March 1 201 7 NSS Convention 201 7 Rio Rancho, New Mexico June 19 23, 2017 NCA Convention 2017, Host: Mark Twain Cav e, Hannibal, Missouri, September 18 21, 2017 Smok y Mountain Gift Show 2017 Sevie rville, Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg, Tennessee, (Dates TBD) IAAPA 2017, Orlando, Florida, November 14 17, 2017 Tucson Gem and Mineral Shows 201 8 Tucson, Arizona, January 27 February 1 1 201 8 NCA Mid Winter Board of Directors Meeting, Renaissance Airport Hotel, St. Louis, Missouri, February 2 6 28 201 8 NSS Convention 201 8, Whitefish, Montana, July 29 August 4, 2018 NCA Convention 2018 Host: Racoon Mountain Caverns, Chattanooga, Tennessee, (Dates TBD) Smok y Mountain Gift Show 2018 Gatlinburg, Tennessee, (Dates TBD) IAAPA 201 8 Orlando, Florida, November 11 16, 2018 NCA Convention 2019, Host: Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, Glenwood Springs, Colorado (Dates TBD) Got News? Please make sure you let Bob Holt know when you have news to share with the membership regarding you and your cave. It is the goal of the NCA office to continue producing monthly issues of Cave Talk and this can only happen when you help with the sharing o f your news. Please send your articles, photographs to Ju ly 2016 Cave Talk Deadline Please have all articles to Bob Holt no later than June 15. Thank you


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