Report courtesy of Cindy Baubach
Bill Grose asked me if I l would be willing to lead a conservation project to Buchanan Saltpeter Cave in VA. Since I have participated in a few Conservation/Restoration projects in the past and am passionate about cave preservation, I was honored to lead this trip. Bill and I discussed the goals he had in mind, primarily graffiti removal. Buchanan Saltpeter Cave has had a lot of graffiti over the years. In spite of the fact that I did not have enough time to plan out getting all the necessary materials for the project, when I arrived at the Spring VAR site, I was met and welcomed by a group of cavers that were serious about keeping our caves as natural as possible. The following cavers signed up for the trip: Ken Clark, Robby Crumpton, Nick Frantz, Robert Crumpton, James Elliot, Lee Olson, Mary Davis, Bob Griffith, Roxanne Shively, Doug Duncan, John Fox, Jim McConkey, Dave Field and Richard Hand.
When we cavers met, I asked if they had any brushes and fortunately most everyone did so there were enough brushes to get to work. Walker Mountain Grotto did supply us with several buckets and orange trash bags which were helpful. We got to the cave around 11:15am on 4/28/18. We began our hike up through the pastures and low and behold, here came the landowners on their “gator” (or some brand- off road vehicle) to greet us with open arms. The landowners (man and woman) were recently retired veterinarians from North Carolina. They were very caver friendly and were very glad we were doing a clean- up project.
When we got down in the cave (about 20 feet butt slide with a hand line rigged to a tree to get to a ladder to descend the rest of the 30 feet or so), we counted off and got a number of caver/participants and off we went. I was so moved by the passion each one had to help clean up trash (broken glass, paper trash and anything that we could remove from the cave (this did not include a good size pile of wire fencing that a former farmer had tossed into the cave). The brushes were out and cavers went to work throughout the cave. Bill Grose had requested we focus on one section by the creek inside the cave. We did that and much more! The cave appreciated the dedication from being so defamed in the past. We all secretly know this defamation will probably happen again but at least we cleaned up a good portion, if not all of the graffiti that was removable via wire/plastic brushes. There was some at the front of the cave that we could not get off that may need future attention with a pressure washer or something in the future. There were some historic signatures we left, of course.
We really had a good time completing the project. I would guess we were in the cave for a least 3-4 hours working. We decided at this time the job was complete for the day. Thank you so much for your help. You were greatly appreciated for your dedication!