National Speleological Society 2015 Convention Brings National Attention To The Cave State

Waynesville, MO in Pulaski County has been chosen as the host of the 2015 (NSS) National Speleological Society annual convention. The event is held in alternating states and regions of the United States each year. Established in 1941, the non-profit organization is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has nearly 250 chapters called “grottos” across the country.

The NSS is the largest organization in the world dedicated to exploration, preservation, education and conservation of caves. The Society’s over 10,000 members include scientists, cartographers, explorers and cave enthusiasts from the United States and all over the globe. The NSS organization is sectioned in 15 specialty interest areas of the membership to include geology, archeology, technical research and rescue, underwater cave diving and many artistic disciplines.

National Speleological Society Logo

National Speleological Society Logo

The Pulaski County Tourism Bureau has teamed up with the Mississippi Valley Ozark Region as well as the NSS to work to bring this convention to central Missouri. Missouri previously hosted this conference in 1997.

This is a week-long event, featuring daily symposia, guided cave trips, and major events each evening. Conventions are a great way to learn about caves in other regions, share new techniques, meet old friends, and make new ones. On Thursday evenings, the auditorium is packed for the Photo and Video Salons and awards, and Friday’s Banquet features the annual NSS Award presentations. Convention activities will also include vertical contests, hydrology & geology field trips, and Salons encompassing- craft and design, cover art, fine arts, print, symbolic emblems, t-shirt, and cartographic. The Junior Speleological Society will have youth activities scheduled throughout the week.

2015 National Speleological Convention Logo revised

Joe Nicolussi, co-chair of the 2015 NSS Convention, announced in February that Carroll Cave is the “crown jewel” of this year’s conference. Jeff Page, Carroll Cave Conservancy (CCC) Membership & Access Chair, “couldn’t agree more and CCC is eager to share this jewel with as many convention attendees as possible.” Carroll Cave is the second longest cave in Missouri and is a National Natural Landmark.

Convention Hall 2 Tagged

Caving opportunities will be plentiful during #NSS2015. A small sample of the caves that will be offered to attendees include: Skaggs, Perkins, Tunnel-Spring, Grempczynski, Pike’s Peak, and Railroad Cave. Cave/cavern diving opportunities are available to certified divers at Roubidoux Spring, Boiling Spring, and Bennett Spring. Several show caves across The Cave State will be offering discounted tours to Convention attendees. Kirsten Alvey-Mudd, Cave Chair, is particularly excited about the cave and float combo trips that are offered-“This is a quintessential Missouri caving experience- an experience that you do not want to miss while you are in the Ozarks for Convention 2015.” Alvey-Mudd also added that concierge decontamination service will be offered nightly at the campground.

Photo by Jennifer Idol, Ozark Cave Diving Alliance www.ocda.org

Photo by Jennifer Idol, Ozark Cave Diving Alliance http://www.ocda.org

Campground Chair Larry Abeln is ready to welcome cavers to their “home away from home” during Convention 2015. Pulaski County-Fort Leonard Wood Shrine Club Campground is top notch- campers will find plenty of shaded, level spots, shower facilities, a large common area centered around one of Mid-Missouri’s largest outdoor stages, a clubhouse (with wi-fi) and other amenities. Abeln is also excited that campers will be able to have small campfires at the campground.

Waynesville High School will be the site for #NSS2015 Convention registration, sessions, salons, workshops, the international vertical contests and vendors.

Waynesville High School will be the site for #NSS2015 Convention registration, sessions, salons, workshops, the international vertical contests and vendors.

In addition to favorite, traditional Convention activities such as Howdy Party, Speleo-Auction, and Banquet, Activities Chair Alicia Wallace has coordinated with Pulaski County Tourism Bureau to offer attendees “local flavor”- including a tour of the Old Stagecoach Stop, a tour of the Frisco Depot Museum in Crocker, a paranormal investigation of one of Waynesville’s oldest homes, and a BYOL (Bring Your Own Light) head lamp tour of the 1903 Route 66 Courthouse Museum. Self-guided driving tours of Route 66 and a walking tour of historic sites and points of interest in downtown Waynesville are available free of charge through the Pulaski County Tourism Bureau.

Local Attractions During National Speleological Society Convention 2015

Kris Nicolussi, co-chair of the 2015 NSS Convention reminds cavers that registration for “Hitchhikers Guide To Missouri Caving” is now available online and that discounted registration is available before June 1st. She encourages everyone to visit the official website at http://nss2015.caves.org for updates and states that #NSS2015 can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Google +. She and Mayor Luge Hardman are “thrilled to show off Waynesville to cavers from around the globe”, – and Kris reminds everyone to bring their towel.

National Speleological Society- http://www.facebook.com/NationalSpeleologicalSociety
NSS 2015 Convention- http://www.facebook.com/NSSConvention2015
Pulaski County Tourism Bureau- http://www.facebook.com/PulaskiCountyUSA
City of Waynesville, Missouri- http://www.facebook.com/cityofwaynesvillemo

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2015 National Speleological Society (NSS) Convention To Be Held In Waynesville, MO

2015 National Speleological Society Convention Logo

The 2015 NSS Convention will be held July 13-17th, 2015 in Waynesville, Missouri. Missouri is nicknamed “The Cave State”, and Waynesville is the heart of Missouri’s cave country. Waynesville is the county seat of Pulaski County and is one of the gateway cities to Fort Leonard Wood. Fort Leonard Wood is one of the largest joint training installations in the United States. All branches of service, including the Coast Guard, train at Fort Wood. Pulaski County is home to more than 300 caves, many of which will be open for cave trips during Convention. Some of these include- Skaggs Cave (Skaggs’ rimstone terrace graced the frontispiece of J Harlen Bretz’s book Caves of Missouri, published in 1956.), Tunnel-Spring Cave, Grempczynski Cave, Pike’s Peak Cave, and Railroad Cave.

The crown jewel of the 2015 Convention is Carroll Cave, just 25 miles away from the Shrine Club campground. It’s currently mapped passage of 20+ miles is entered via 120ft rappel drop through a manmade conduit and boasts three main sections: The Carroll River which leads from the entrance to the T Junction where it intersects Thunder River, Upper Thunder River which is the second section and lastly, Lower Thunder River. Each section has several side passages, some over a mile long in themselves, abundant biology and spectacular examples of every formation limestone caves have to offer!

Cave divers will be able to dive and explore Roubidoux Spring Cave. This world-renowned cave diving adventure sits in Laughlin Park just 1 mile from Convention Central at Waynesville High School. This 16th largest spring in Missouri has an average summer water temp in the low 60’s, average daily flow of 37 million gallons, 4ft x 12ft cave mouth at an average 6ft depth below water level, and almost 2 miles of pre-set handline. Roubidoux Spring is open to all certified cave divers and is rated at an advanced dive level. Odyssey Scuba, just 2 blocks from the park, is offering a special tank refill rate for convention of $4 per tank!

The City of Waynesville looks forward to your visit during NSS 2015! Photo by Jackie Welborn

The City of Waynesville looks forward to your visit during NSS 2015! Photo by Jackie Welborn

The Geology field trip will take a detailed look at Ordovician formations that make up the majority of rocks exposed throughout the Salem Plateau. Field trip stops have been selected to elicit discussion of structure, lithology, depositional environment, sequence stratigraphy and diagenesis processes such as dolomitization, geothermal alteration and sulfide ore deposition. Each process has an influence on permeability and karst development within the Salem Plateau.

The Hydrology field trip includes stops at Carroll Cave, Toronto Springs, Ha Ha Tonka State Park, and Bennett Spring.

The Shriners Club Campground is the official Convention campground, offering plenty of camping and RV space, on-site pavilions, electricity, and shower houses. Located just 5 miles away from Waynesville High School (Convention Central), the campground is 88 acres with grassy fields, shaded groves, woods, cold running water and hot showers. The site has been used for a variety of events such as bike rallys, local festivals, and circuses since the founding of the club. Once inside, the main road splits into many roads that loop around the many camping areas. All roads are well graveled. The Shriners Club Campground is lush with trees and vegetation because it is located on the edge of the Missouri Ozarks region. The Mark Twain National Forest is nearby.

Frog Rock greets visitors to Waynesville on Route 66. Photo by Cat Spencer

Frog Rock greets visitors to Waynesville on Route 66. Photo by Cat Spencer

Pulaski County abounds with outdoor experiences, historical settings, and local flavor. Much of the southern portion of the county is designated as Mark Twain National Forest. A float trip on the Big Piney River is a great way to take in the beautiful landscapes and scenic beauty of this area. The Gasconade River also offers dramatic views. Both rivers are an angler’s dream- known for their bass (smallmouth and largemouth), channel catfish, and goggle-eye fishing. While canoeing on either of these rivers you will most likely see dramatic limestone bluffs, log slides from the days of the tie-rafters, old hunting & fishing lodges, wildlife, and century farms. The Roubidoux is known as a trout stream and Waynesville’s downtown offers world class trout fishing within walking distance of the historic Square. The Square’s landmarks are the Old Stagecoach Stop and the 1903 Courthouse- both of which will be open for tours during Convention. A free self-guided walking tour brochure of Waynesville’s historical landmarks is available through Pulaski County Tourism Bureau. The Square also offers unique shopping, nightlife, and dining-including international options. Route 66 winds its way through Pulaski County and several of the stops along its way are world famous- including the Devils Elbow area. Travelers from across the globe seek this area out for its unique roadhouse, scenic beauty, and historic bridges. A free self-guided driving tour of the Mother Road in Pulaski County is available through Pulaski County Tourism Bureau. This brochure will also guide you along the Frisco (now BNSF) Railroad as it takes you to the railroad boom towns of Dixon, Crocker, Swedeborg, & Richland. These quaint and charming towns have unique dining, antiquing, and shopping. Crocker’s Frisco Railroad Museum will be open for a limited time during Convention. Richland is home to one of the oldest stores west of the Mississippi- H.E. Warren Store, continually in business since 1869. Scattered across Pulaski County you will find monuments and memorials to those who have served in the United States Armed Forces. One highlight that you will not want to miss is the Mahaffey Museum Complex on Fort Leonard Wood. This is the only location where you can see three U.S. Army branch museums (Engineer, Military Police, Chemical Corps) under one roof. The complex is located on Fort Leonard Wood and is open to the public. Admission is free. Geocaches and Ingress game portals are also located throughout the area. For information on things to do, or area lodging/dining information please contact Pulaski County Tourism Bureau at 877-858-8687. They will gladly provide you with a complimentary Visitors Guide and area brochures.

The Old Stagecoach Stop on the Square in Waynesville has served as a stagecoach stop, a tavern, a hotel, and as a hospital during the Civil War. The building will be open to the public during Convention. Photo by Terry Primas

The Old Stagecoach Stop on the Square in Waynesville has served as a stagecoach stop, a tavern, a hotel, and as a hospital during the Civil War. The building will be open to the public during Convention. Photo by Terry Primas

Online registration for #NSS2015 is now available! Register today! Waynesville Mayor Luge Hardman looks forward to seeing everyone!

For the latest updated information on the 2015 NSS Convention, including pre-convention activities in Brumley, Missouri please visit the official website at http://nss2015.caves.org. You can also join the conversation on Facebook (www.facebook.com/NSSConvention2015) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/NSS2015).

Rival To The Mammoth Cave of Kentucky – July 24, 1857

The following was published in the Sacramento Daily Union newspaper July 24, 1857.

RIVAL TO THE MAMMOTH CAVE OF KENTUCKY.

-We have been furnished the following description of a large cave, in Maries county, by M. Meyer Friede, of St. Louis, who explored it on the Thursday, the 14th ult. The cave is known by the name of the Big Saltpeter Cave:

The cave is in Maries County, 1 3/4 miles from the Gasconade River, on a creek called Cave Spring Creek, in township 38, section 21, range 9, west. He went to the cave, guided by Mr. R.H. Prewett, a young man, about 25 years old, who was born and raised about a quarter of a mile from the place.

In front of the entrance was a small stone house, which the old settlers thought was built by the Indians, but is now in ruins.

The entrance goes straight in the rock on a level with the surrounding surface rock, is about one hundred feet wide, and, in the center, about twenty-five feet high, arched. Messrs. Friede and Prewett entered the cave for near four hundred feet, where it narrows to about twenty-five feet wide and fifteen feet high, and presents the appearance of an ante-chamber; from there they passed into a large chamber, about one hundred feet in height, where three galleries branch off; they then passed into the left gallery, which ascends near twenty feet on a bed of saltpeter. This gallery is called the Dry Gallery, and is about five hundred feet in length; the height varies from one hundred to about thirty feet. The ceiling and sides are composed of solid rock. Near the end is a large round chamber which Mr. Prewett calls the ball-room, and that gentleman states that his father had given balls in the chamber frequently; the last was in the winter of 1850, at which time there were about eighteen or twenty persons there. They went in the morning and stopped all day, and arrived at home in the evening, cooking and eating their meals in their subterranean saloon, and had a merry time of it.

This article about Big Saltpeter Cave in Maries County, Missouri,  was published in the Sacramento Daily Union Friday morning, July 24, 1857. The 2015 National Speleological Society Convention will be held July 13- 17, 2015 in neighboring Pulaski County. Waynesville, the host location, and county seat of Pulaski, is the heart of Missouri's cave country.

This article about Big Saltpeter Cave in Maries County, Missouri, was published in the Sacramento Daily Union Friday morning, July 24, 1857. The 2015 National Speleological Society Convention will be held July 13- 17, 2015 in neighboring Pulaski County. Waynesville, the host location, and county seat of Pulaski, is the heart of Missouri’s cave country.

After exploring this chamber, they retraced their steps and passed into the right branch (or fork) of the cave, where they ascended a rise of about twelve feet, and entered another gallery, the end of which is not known; they, however, explored it about three-fourths of a mile.

Mr. Prewett states that he has been in this gallery over two miles, and did not get to the end of it. In this gallery, the dropping of the water has formed stalactites of the most beautiful conceptions- statues of men and animals, and large columns, supporting the most beautiful arches, form the ceiling, which is from fifty to one hundred feet high, and forms several chambers of various sizes. The ceiling is decorated with different groups of spar, forming a variety of figures which represent the inside of a cathedral. The size of some of these chambers is about forty feet wide by over one hundred high, and looks like rooms in some feudal castle.

They were afraid their lights would give out, and therefore they retraced their steps to the main chamber, from which they ascended the middle gallery, where a large stream of clear water issues from the interior of the cave, and has a fall of about six feet, and falls in several round marble basins. The water has a pleasant taste. The water flows all he year round, without variation, in sufficient volume to drive a mill.

They ascended the galleries and found themselves in several beautiful chambers , leading from one to the other, in which, however, they did not penetrate to more than six hundred feet.

There is a strong draft of air setting in from the entrance. Inside of the cave the atmosphere was mild.

These chambers are of unusual height and extent.

They went in at 1 o’clock, and emerged from the cave at half past 3. —Jefferson City (Mo.) Inquirer

The 2015 NSS Convention "Hitchhikers Guide To Missouri Caving" logo includes Missouri cave diving in its design.

The 2015 NSS Convention “Hitchhikers Guide To Missouri Caving” logo includes Missouri cave diving in its design.

The 2015 National Speleological Society Convention will be held July 13- 17, 2015 in Pulaski County, Missouri. Waynesville, the host location, and county seat of Pulaski, is the heart of Missouri’s cave country.

To learn more about National Speleological Society visit: http://www.caves.org
To learn more about things to see and do in Pulaski County, Missouri visit: http://www.PulaskiCountyUSA.com

Follow us on Twitter! @NSS2015 and @PulCoUSA

Stay connected with Pulaski County Tourism Bureau on Facebook & Twitter!

Stay connected with Pulaski County Tourism Bureau on Facebook & Twitter!

Early Roubidoux Spring Cave Exploration

The state of Missouri is a hidden gem for cave & cavern scuba divers. Waynesville, the heart of Missouri cave country, is also home to Roubidoux Spring. Roubidoux Spring is a notable landmark freshwater spring. It is often mentioned as one of the best cave diving springs in the country and is routinely allowed to QUALIFIED and certified cavern or cave divers. ALL DIVERS must register with Waynesville Police Department (573.774.2414) before entering.

Roubidoux Spring at Laughlin Park in Waynesville, MO. Image courtesy of Connie Feighery. The underwater cave at Rouibidoux Spring is a favorite dive location in Missouri for certified cave divers.

Roubidoux Spring at Laughlin Park in Waynesville, MO. Image courtesy of Connie Feighery.

The following article was published in “History Pulaski County Missouri, Vol. II, 1987”. Special thanks to Pulaski County Museum and Historical Society for allowing us to share it here.

“Roubidoux Spring
Summary of Exploration thru Sept. 18, 1977

Prior to September 1977 several people had made relatively short penetrations into the upper level passage of Roubidoux Spring- Carlson, Delaney, Rimbach, and Tatalovich.

During the summer of 1977, Carlson and Delaney made several dives to the limits of the then known passage in an effort to extend penetration. Their maximum penetration was 425 feet and a maximum depth of 120 feet.

On September 3, 1977 Miller and Fogarty made their first dive in Roubidoux Spring. They reached the end of the Carson-Delaney line, found the lower level passage, and added 570 feet of line for a total penetration of 995 feet. The lower level passage runs at an average depth of 140 feet and ranges from 5 feet high and 12 feet wide to 20 feet high and 50 feet wide. On the afternoon of September 3, Miller and Fogarty made a second dive and added another 435 feet. The new penetration was 1430 feet. The passage size, direction, and depth were holding a relatively constant at termination.

A cave diver at Roubidoux Spring in Waynesville in Pulaski County, Missouri.

A cave diver at Roubidoux Spring in Waynesville in Pulaski County, Missouri.

September 4, 1977: Miller and Fogarty made a survey trip into the lower level, starting at the end of the Carlson-Delaney line surveying 535 feet. They also removed 35 feet of line to center line in the passage.
A minor decompression accident occurred on this dive causing Miller to be hospitalized for a short period. This delayed further exploration for two weeks.

September 17, 1977: Miller and Fogarty pushed to the end of the line in Whichaway Ave. and started adding line. They immediately entered the “Big Room”, which is 40 feet high and 80 feet wide, depth on the floor was a constant 160 feet. The floor was smooth hard silt with very little breakdown in contrast to the floor in Whichaway Ave. which is all porous breakdown. 225 feet of line was added, making a total penetration of 1620 feet from the entrance and a maximum depth of 160 feet. The Big Room was remaining constant at the termination of the dive.

September 18, 1977: Miller and Fogarty made a survey dive and routinely surveyed the back part of Whichaway Ave.

September 18, 1977: Miller and Fogarty made a survey trip on the Carson-Delaney section of the line, completing the survey of the known passage.

On each dive into the lower level passage blind cave crawfish and blind fish were sighted. No more than three of each were ever sighted on a given dive and their size seemed to be small.”

Exploration of Roubidoux Spring Cave has progressed since this survey was done in 1977.

Exploration of Roubidoux Spring Cave has progressed since this survey was done in 1977.

This survey from 1997 shows two areas, "Room O' The Endless Line" and "Big Cave Country" that were not known at the time of the 1977 survey. This image has been altered to highlight these additions. For the complete map visit http://cavdvr.tripod.com/images/roubmap.jpg.

This survey from 1997 shows two areas, “Room O’ The Endless Line” and “Big Cave Country” that were not known at the time of the 1977 survey. This image has been altered to highlight these additions. For the complete map visit http://cavdvr.tripod.com/images/roubmap.jpg.

The 2008 Old Settlers Gazette, published by Old Stagecoach Stop Museum & Foundation, features an article and historical photographs of Roubidoux Spring. It can be read in its entirety at: http://www.oldstagecoachstop.org/webgeezer/Gazette08/TheBigSpring.pdf

Roubidoux Spring Cave will be offered during the National Speleological Society (NSS) Convention, hosted in Waynesville, Missouri July 13 -17, 2015.

The 2015 NSS Convention "Hitchhikers Guide To Missouri Caving" logo includes Missouri cave diving in its design.

The 2015 NSS Convention “Hitchhikers Guide To Missouri Caving” logo includes Missouri cave diving in its design.

Stay connected with Pulaski County Tourism Bureau & Visitors Center by visiting our website (www.PulaskiCountyUSA.com) liking our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/PulaskiCountyUSA) or following us on Twitter! (twitter.com/PulCoUSA)

Stay connected with Pulaski County Tourism Bureau on Facebook & Twitter!

Stay connected with Pulaski County Tourism Bureau on Facebook & Twitter!