The Longest Cave

SIU Press
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In 1925 the geological connection between Flint Ridge and Mammoth Cave was proved when dye placed in a Flint Ridge spring showed up in Echo River at Mammoth Cave.

That tantalizing swirl of dye confirmed speculations that were to tempt more than 650 cavers over half a century with the thrill of being the first to make human passage of the cave connection. Roger Brucker and Richard Watson tell not only of their own twenty-year effort to complete the link but the stories of many others who worked their way through mud-choked crawlways less than a foot high only to find impenetrable blockages.

Floyd Collins died a grisly death in nearby Sand Cave in 1925, after being trapped there for 15 days. The wide press coverage of the rescue efforts stirred the imagination of the public and his body was on macabre display in a glass-topped coffin in Crystal Cave into the 1940s. Agents of a rival cave owner once even stole his corpse, which was recovered and still is in a coffin in the cave. Modern cavers still have a word with Floyd as they start their downward treks.

Brucker and Watson joined the parade of cavers who propelled themselves by wiggling kneecaps, elbows, and toes through quarter-mile long crawlways, clinging by fingertips and boot toes across mud-slick walls, over bottomless pits, into gurgling streams beneath stone ceilings that descend to water level, down crumbling crevices and up mountainous rockfalls, into wondrous domed halls, and straight ahead into a blackness intensified rather than dispelled by the carbide lamps on their helmets.

Over two decades they explored the passages with others who sought the final connection as vigorously as themselves. Pat Crowther, a young mother of two, joined them and because of her thinness became the member of the crew to go first into places no human had ever gone before. In that role, in July 1972, she wiggled her way through the Tight Spot and found the route that would link the Flint Ridge and Mammoth Cave systems into one cave extending 144.4 miles through the Kentucky limestone.

In a new afterword to this edition the authors summarize the subsequent explorations that have more than doubled the established length of the cave system. Based upon geological evidence, the authors predict that new discoveries will add another 200 miles to the length of the world’ s longest cave, making it over 500 miles long.

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About the author

Roger W. Brucker is president of Odiorne Indus­trial Advertising. Inc., in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Past president of the Cave Research Foundation, he is an Honorary Life Fellow of the National Speleological Society. He has written adventure and tech­nical articles related to caves and is the co-author of two other books on caving: The Caves Beyond (with Joe Lawrence) and Trapped! The Story of Floyd Collins (with Robert K. Murray).

Richard A. Watson is Professor of Philosophy at Washington University, St. Louis. He is past presi­dent of the Cave Research Foundation, a Fellow of the National Speleological Society, editor of Cave Books, and has published a novel on caving: Under Plowman's Floor. He has participated as a geolo­gist on paleoclimatological and archaeological expeditions in Kentucky, New Mexico, Iran, Turkey, and the Yukon.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SIU Press
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Published on
Feb 16, 1987
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Pages
352
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ISBN
9780809313228
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
History / General
Nature / Rocks & Minerals
Science / Earth Sciences / Geology
Science / General
Sports & Recreation / Mountaineering
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Richard A. ("Red") Watson has published fiction, general nonfiction, and scholarly books. His essay "On the Zeedijk," about Descartes in Holland and first published in The Georgia Review, was the lead essay in The Pushcart Prize XV, 1990–1991: Best of the Small Presses. Red knows writing.

He also knows academe and has written Writing Philosophy as a kind of survival manual for undergraduates, graduate students, and junior faculty members in philosophy. Also helpful to those in the humanities and the social sciences, the book is a guide to the professional writing and publishing that are essential to an active participation in the conversation and discussion that constitute these professional fields. To the extent that publication is the crucial factor in tenure decisions, it will help the beginning scholar meet tenure criteria.

Despite the importance of the oral tradition in philosophy and the influence of the dialogue, many philosophical points are so intricate and complex that they can be advanced, followed, and criticized only if they are written as stepwise arguments for study and contemplation at length and at leisure. Watson provides a set of basic principles and a plan for writing argumentative papers of 1,500 to 15,000 words (3 to 30 printed pages) and books containing a sequence of sustained arguments of 70,000 to 150,000 words (200 to 300 printed pages).

Because the first book of most professional philosophers is a revised dissertation, Watson presents a plan for writing that dissertation in such a way that its chapters will serve as publishable articles and the dissertation itself will need very little rewriting as a book. His discussion of the principles of reason, clarity, and argument ranges from such topics as dangling participles and the proper usage of ellipses to matters of categorization and univocity.

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In Beyond Mammoth Cave: A Tale of Obsession in the World’ s Longest Cave, James D. Borden and Roger W. Brucker provide gripping first-person accounts of the discoveries, including Roppel Cave, that made Kentucky’ s Mammoth Cave three times longer than any other cave in the world.

Borden, a relative newcomer, and Brucker, a veteran explorer, bring a personal and sometimes conflicting view of their roles as adversaries in a race that lasted from 1972 through 1983 to find “ big cave.” They describe hazardous adventures, precarious climbs, and close calls from falling rocks. The perils are many and the trek arduous as they squirm through muddy tubes, wade in neck-deep cold water, and crawl over sharp rocks and gritty sand. Theirs is a tale of agonizing endurance spiced by spectacular discoveries.

But the cave was not the sole obstacle. The explorations were complicated by political intrigue and the rivalry between the Kentucky-based Cave Research Foundation and the Central Kentucky Karst Coalition, each seeking to make discoveries and hide secrets. Extreme stress, of course, evoked extreme behavior, ranging from selfishness to sacrifice, from outrageous humor to the deadly serious response.

Beyond Mammoth Cave includes maps by Patricia Kambesis that show the progression of cave discoveries in relation to the topography. Original line drawings by well-known illustrator Linda Heslop capture the dark mystery of the exploration. The book features five black and white photographs as a color gallery of photographs.

A sequel to The Longest Cave by Brucker and Richard A. Watson, this book is a comprehensive update of the speleological investigations in the Mammoth Cave region. Brucker’ s involvement provides continuity to the investigation.

In Beyond Mammoth Cave: A Tale of Obsession in the World’ s Longest Cave, James D. Borden and Roger W. Brucker provide gripping first-person accounts of the discoveries, including Roppel Cave, that made Kentucky’ s Mammoth Cave three times longer than any other cave in the world.

Borden, a relative newcomer, and Brucker, a veteran explorer, bring a personal and sometimes conflicting view of their roles as adversaries in a race that lasted from 1972 through 1983 to find “ big cave.” They describe hazardous adventures, precarious climbs, and close calls from falling rocks. The perils are many and the trek arduous as they squirm through muddy tubes, wade in neck-deep cold water, and crawl over sharp rocks and gritty sand. Theirs is a tale of agonizing endurance spiced by spectacular discoveries.

But the cave was not the sole obstacle. The explorations were complicated by political intrigue and the rivalry between the Kentucky-based Cave Research Foundation and the Central Kentucky Karst Coalition, each seeking to make discoveries and hide secrets. Extreme stress, of course, evoked extreme behavior, ranging from selfishness to sacrifice, from outrageous humor to the deadly serious response.

Beyond Mammoth Cave includes maps by Patricia Kambesis that show the progression of cave discoveries in relation to the topography. Original line drawings by well-known illustrator Linda Heslop capture the dark mystery of the exploration. The book features five black and white photographs as a color gallery of photographs.

A sequel to The Longest Cave by Brucker and Richard A. Watson, this book is a comprehensive update of the speleological investigations in the Mammoth Cave region. Brucker’ s involvement provides continuity to the investigation.

In Beyond Mammoth Cave: A Tale of Obsession in the World’ s Longest Cave, James D. Borden and Roger W. Brucker provide gripping first-person accounts of the discoveries, including Roppel Cave, that made Kentucky’ s Mammoth Cave three times longer than any other cave in the world.

Borden, a relative newcomer, and Brucker, a veteran explorer, bring a personal and sometimes conflicting view of their roles as adversaries in a race that lasted from 1972 through 1983 to find “ big cave.” They describe hazardous adventures, precarious climbs, and close calls from falling rocks. The perils are many and the trek arduous as they squirm through muddy tubes, wade in neck-deep cold water, and crawl over sharp rocks and gritty sand. Theirs is a tale of agonizing endurance spiced by spectacular discoveries.

But the cave was not the sole obstacle. The explorations were complicated by political intrigue and the rivalry between the Kentucky-based Cave Research Foundation and the Central Kentucky Karst Coalition, each seeking to make discoveries and hide secrets. Extreme stress, of course, evoked extreme behavior, ranging from selfishness to sacrifice, from outrageous humor to the deadly serious response.

Beyond Mammoth Cave includes maps by Patricia Kambesis that show the progression of cave discoveries in relation to the topography. Original line drawings by well-known illustrator Linda Heslop capture the dark mystery of the exploration. The book features five black and white photographs as a color gallery of photographs.

A sequel to The Longest Cave by Brucker and Richard A. Watson, this book is a comprehensive update of the speleological investigations in the Mammoth Cave region. Brucker’ s involvement provides continuity to the investigation.

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