The Kentucky Caver Quarterly Proceedings of the
Bluegrass Grotto: the North Central Kentucky Area Chapter of the National Speleological Society
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 vol. 41. iss. 1, March 2006
C-1507-I  Rowan    11.50
 C-230  Rowan    124.00
 C-3048b  Rowan    67.63
 C-379a  Rowan    54.00
 C-379b  Rowan    29.00
 C-4192  Rowan    106.81
 C-475  Rowan    57.00
 C-521  Rowan    92.00
 C-675  Rowan    184.60
 C-91a  Rowan    233.00            total:
 C-91a-I  Rowan    0.40
             4,518 acres

Cave Gating : My Lucrative Job with U.S. Steel
An Editorial by By Ergor Rubreck

I had been caving for two years when an ad in the classified section of the paper caught my eye. “Cave Grating” I thought it said, and it was from U.S. Steel Corporation.  I thought to myself, “Hot dog, this is my chance to get a cave barbecue set.”

I applied in person and was astounded to find it was a sales job!  I would travel from town to town and see if anyone knew of any caves. I met a lot of NSS grotto folks that way, and convinced many cavers that their favorite cave needed a gate.  Where cavers were reluctant to reveal cave locations, I checked with cave owners to see if they carried $5 million of umbrella insurance.  The problem was that cave owners in Indiana had been slapped with lawsuits involving cavers who had died or were lost, and $5 million was the least fine and compensation the corporation knew about. (I did not know at the time that umbrellas could be insured.)

My job was to convince cavers, grottos, and owners

that their best wild cave needed a gate, and to persuade them to fork over $234, 765 for a set of plans, steel (minus shipping), and a “Protect Bug-Eating Bats” sign.  A lot of organizations and owners signed up for gate erection. I recruited a tight fabrication crew from former Mail Pouch barn painters, some of whom were addicted to paint thinner.  The crew chief was from the “measure once, cut twice” school of construction.  Our corporation encouraged WAG dimension estimating because we sold extra steel that way.

We could run up a gate in three days.  Another source of revenue was to charge extra for hinges, puzzle lock mechanisms, keys, and two signs.  The gate would rust pretty fast in the damp cave air, so I’d tell the customer, “It’s supposed to do that.  This is that new high tech rusting steel that acts as camouflage in the dim light of the cave vestibule.”  I wondered if this was true until I visited five of our gates months later and found three deer, ten opossums, and 21 bats dead on the floor before the gates.  They must have made a heck of a clang when they hit that hidden steel.

Eighteen months later I quit the job.  My conscience troubled me no end. Some of the gates had no key (cheapskate customers refused to pay extra for keys).  Cavers who wanted to visit the cave would check with each other and the owner for the key, only to be told somebody else must have it. A few inconsiderate cavers called me in the middle of the night mad as hell, demanding a key.  I told them the cave was a hibernaculum for endangered bats, an archaeology site, a speleotherm repository, and contained unstable ceilings.  They could not go in.  I did not want to look like a fool, not having a key to their cave.  I was accused of being a rotten miscreant,
 
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