Your Invitation To NSS 2015 Convention!

2015 National Speleological Convention Logo revisedGreetings! The staff of 2015 NSS Convention invites you and your family to The Cave State for an action packed week of daily symposia, guided cave trips, vendors, 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. We are thrilled to present “The Hitchhikers Guide To Missouri Caving” to the 74th annual gathering of National Speleological Society members. Waynesville is the heart of cave country in Missouri and is centrally located in the ageless Ozark Mountains with rugged scenic beauty as far as the eye can see. Over 200 caves will be offered during #NSS2015 including Carroll Cave, Skaggs Cave, world renowned diving cave Roubidoux Spring, caves that once housed onyx mining operations, caves with spectacular speleothems, caves rich with legend and lore of bushwhackers and moonshiners, caves for the family and JSS members, caves that you can canoe or kayak to, and of course caves with Pulaski County mud! Pit caves will be available at Post Convention in Southeast Missouri at Perryville. missouricaveConvention Central will be located at Waynesville High School (200 GW Lane)- a state of the art, multimillion dollar facility. This facility is spacious, comfortable, air-conditioned and has Wi-Fi! Campground will be at Pulaski County-Ft. Leonard Wood Shrine Club (26920 Shrines Road), only ten minutes away from Convention Central. Surrounded by Mark Twain National Forest, the campground is 88 acres with plenty of shaded camping areas. Moderate sized campfires are permitted. Shower houses are available on site. Wi-Fi is available at the main Clubhouse. Nearby Saint Robert has many lodging choices for those who decide not to camp. Activities abound for those who would like to explore above ground. Our staff has teamed up with the 1903 Route 66 Courthouse Museum, the Old Stagecoach Stop, Crocker’s Frisco Depot, and Paranormal Investigations of the Historic Talbot House to offer mid-week evening activities for you and your family. Additionally, you can trout fish in the Roubidoux, road trip on Route 66, discover the Frisco line, antique in charming railroad boom towns, honor those who marched on the Trail of Tears, follow in the footsteps of Civil War soldiers, “blaze” a trail in the National Forest, kayak the winding Gasconade River, or drift down the Big Piney in a raft. Kayaking Near Fort Leonard Wood, MissouriNo matter how you customize your 2015 NSS Convention experience you will be telling tales of your adventures at #NSS2015 for many years to come! Onsite registration opens at Noon July 11th! Don’t forget your towel! Joe & Kris Nicolussi, Co-Chairs & the 2015 NSS Convention Staff NSS 2015 Convention Sponsors


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

Photo by Jennifer Idol, Ozark Cave Diving Alliance

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 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-
NSS 2015 Convention-
Pulaski County Tourism Bureau-
City of Waynesville, Missouri-

Roubidoux Spring- Below The Surface

By Bob Hathaway
Owner, Odyssey Scuba

There are a lot of good reasons for the NSS Convention 2015 to come to Waynesville, Missouri, yet one of the best reasons will be least visited! Every person attending will pass within mere feet of the opening to one of the most interesting cave systems in the Midwestern United States, yet it takes more than the “usual” cave exploration equipment to see this Cave State wonder…

Waynesville has enjoyed a revitalization of business in the last 3- 5 years that has returned a certain charm to the small Missouri town, and visitors enjoy strolling the downtown area to explore various locally- owned shops and restaurants which line the square. The city also has a rich historical heritage including a section of the “Mother Road” of Old Route 66 running through its middle, noted Civil War sites, and even part of the original Trail Of Tears is inside its limits. However, the beating heart of Waynesville’s natural beauty exists just a short distance from all of this in the form of Roubidoux Springs, a beautiful freshwater spring feeding into the Roubidoux River which divides the town into its eastern and western parts.

Visitors are able to park their cars alongside the river at the Roy Laughlin Park and walk along a short, well- maintained span of the Trail Of Tears Memorial Walkway leading from the Route 66 Bridge up to the spring. They are often fascinated at the sight of trout and other types of local fish swimming in the crystal clear water, and can pause occasionally to read the historical markers placed along the way. Even more fascinating to a large number of visitors as they round the bend is the unexpected sight of scuba divers making their way into and out of Roubidoux Springs cave/cavern system!

Cave and cavern divers have been drawn to Roubidoux Springs for decades, fascinated both by its beauty and challenge. The spring is located within the city park system, so park rules and regulations are in effect. A Cave or Cavern certification is required to dive the springs, and the city has implemented a check- in/check- out protocol for those diving there. This protocol is more often self- enforced by divers themselves instead of law enforcement as a way of keeping thrill seekers and the uninformed out of harm’s way. Divers are appreciative of having such a wonderful resource for their enjoyment, and take serious the measures and responsibilities put in place to protect it.

The shallow pool at the mouth of the spring often fools passersby to the true extent of the massive cave system just below their feet, which was recently explored by technical divers to a distance of nearly two miles as it winds its way back under the city. The actual distance the cave goes back is still unknown, and plans for further explorations are continuously being made as advances in equipment and technology expand. Divers are eager to be among those who have extended the line to its furthest point, and travel from all across the United States as well as foreign countries to be a part of the effort. While cave divers certainly dominate the diving at Roubidoux Springs it is certainly not limited to them. Cavern divers also have one of the largest and most interesting areas to explore in the Midwestern United States, and with the support of Odyssey Scuba & Travel (located less than a quarter of a mile away) it is a fun and easy way to spend a day of diving. While cavern diving is much more restrictive in limits than cave diving (including a linear distance limit of one hundred thirty feet of exploration, and being within sight of ambient light at all times) it also enables a greater number of sport divers to enjoy the experience.

Photo by Jennifer Idol, Ozark Cave Diving Alliance

Photo by Jennifer Idol, Ozark Cave Diving Alliance

Cavern divers suit up on shore and wade into the 55- 58F temperature water at the mouth of the spring. Use of dry suits is preferred, but certainly a thick wetsuit is an option. Final safety checks are performed, then divers slip into the small opening located just beneath the walkway bridge over the bubbling water. The narrow opening extends back approximately twelve feet before beginning to slant downward to a depth of over forty feet. The cavern zone also widens out to reveal a massive room where divers are able to explore along the cracks and crevices of the walls.

Even underwater in a cave there is life, and with patience and a good eye cave fauna can be found. Roubidoux Springs is currently the site for an on- going fauna count, and several local divers are involved in this scientific endeavor to better understand and protect the delicate creatures existing here. Blind cave fish, crawdads, and other animals are identified and studied, and are happily thriving at Roubidoux Springs. It’s a lot of fun to see one of these tiny residents going about their lives as one explores among the rocks and holes!

At the furthest point back in the cavern zone the actual cave system begins. This smaller tunnel- like opening is prominently marked by a “grim reaper” caricature sign, warning non- cave certified divers that they have reached the limit of their exploration, and that further training and equipment is necessary before continuing. While this simple sign has doubtlessly saved many divers from getting into trouble, most divers are explorers and risk- takers by nature and the well- meaning sign is occasionally viewed with a slight resentment. However, cavern divers usually find more to explore than is possible in a single dive and are quick to continue searching the cavern zone. One object of curiosity usually encountered is the diver habitat. This large box- type structure was placed by cave divers needing a place to “rest” after extended dives in the cave system, and allows those divers a temporarily air pocket where they can rest and communicate during long decompression stops. Cavern divers usually look the habitat over for a few moments before returning to their explorations of the rocks and crevices. In addition to light and linear distance limits cavern divers also follow the “rule of thirds” when it comes to air consumption; one- third of the available air supply going in, one- third for coming out, and the last for emergencies or contingencies. This rule of thirds usually limits a cavern dive in Roubidoux Springs to a time of around twenty minutes, which also makes multiple dives desirable. Air fills and other sundries are available at Odyssey Scuba, so divers have a place to enjoy between dives should they choose to leave the springs area. If you are cave or cavern certified, you won’t want to miss the underwater beauty and adventure of Roubidoux Springs! For more information, or to arrange a cavern dive, contact Odyssey Scuba & Travel on their website at, or call them at (573) 774-DIVE (3483). A single visit to Waynesville, Pulaski County, and Roubidoux Springs will only prove one thing; a single visit simply isn’t enough!

This Week Around Pulaski County USA!

Pulaski County USA LogoEvents for the week of February 2, 2015-February 8, 2015

February 7- Pulaski County Farmer’s Market
What: Year- round Farmer’s Market
Where: South Lynn Street, Waynesville
When: 8 am until Noon
Cost: FREE admission
Contact: Bruce Main- 573.842.9079

Pulaski County Farmers Market Logo February 7- Paranormal Investigations of the Historic Talbot House
What: Supervised paranormal investigation of one of Waynesville’s oldest homes.
Where: 405 North Street, Waynesville
When: Investigations start at dusk. Call for exact time.
Cost: $20 per person, reservations required.
Contact: Crocker’s Optimistic Paranormal Society (Dawnmarie Cecora)- 573.528.2149

An evening you won't soon forget- Paranormal Investigations of the Historic Talbot House in Waynesville, Missouri!

An evening you won’t soon forget- Paranormal Investigations of the Historic Talbot House in Waynesville, Missouri!

Looking Ahead:
February 20 & 21- Outdoor Sportsman Show
February 27- CXMMA International MMA Fights
February 28- Miss Mid Missouri Pageant
March 14 & 15- JROTC Invitational Drill Meet
March 21- Route 66 St. Patty’s Fest

Home to the 2015 National Speleological Society Convention
July 13-17, 2015
Waynesville, MO

The 2015 NSS Convention "Hitchhikers Guide To Missouri Caving" logo.

The 2015 NSS Convention “Hitchhikers Guide To Missouri Caving” logo.

A Featured Destination in FIREBALL RUN: America’s Frontier
Premiering Summer 2015

FIREBALL RUN: America's Frontier premiers in its entirety Summer 2015.

FIREBALL RUN: America’s Frontier premiers in its entirety Summer 2015.

Like Us*Tweet Us*Share Us! #PulaskiCountyUSA

Like Us*Tweet Us*Share Us! #PulaskiCountyUSA

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 You can also join the conversation on Facebook ( and Twitter (