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. 2, June 2006
Stalacpipe Organ as it reaches its 50th year. What music might be written that could only be performed for an audience that is standing 200 feet below Cave Hill? What undreamed melodies might find expression in Shenandoah’s stone?

Mark Kidd,
short bio.
Pending the completion of his Shakespeare requirement this summer, Mark has completed his coursework for an English degree with a concentration in creative writing. After hearing a recording of the Great Stalacpipe Organ while preparing a Halloween edition of the radio show he hosted on WRFL (student radio station), Mark found himself drawn both to Leland W. Sprinkle's instrument itself as well as the long-standing relationship between music and caves. In addition to reading 19th century cave-related travelogues for inspiration, Mark currently is studying the traditional music of Appalachia and preparing for a summer of waiting tables, lighting and sound design, and trying to get published.

Ergor Rubreck’s Experience as an Underground River Pilot
By Ergor Rubreck

Shortly after the days of Mark Twain, a great uncle of mine dug into a cave near Hannibal, MO.  He was searching for gold, but instead, he found an emaciated man near death.  His eyes were covered by a milky film, no doubt the first stages of adaptation to the stygian blackness of the cave.  The pitiable shell of a man identified himself as “Injun Joe”.  He said he was the victim of a scallywag named Tom. 

My great uncle Nelson took him home and mercifully fed him, washed him, and restored him to health. Joe was so grateful that he taught my great uncle the art of


underground river pilotry -- navigation of nether region waterways.  I am the second-hand recipient of that arcane knowledge.  I am sharing it with you because I see by the paper that the pilot of a Lost River Cave, KY boat dunked the prow of a skiff in that selfsame river.  About 24 passengers were plunged into three feet of water, none with PFDs (personal flatulation devices).

The pilot explained that the official capacity of the skiff was 24, and that just because 15 persons were in the front two seats is no reason for the ship to go down (only in front). “It was an act of God,” said Bob Apples, Chief Pilot for the Lost River State Resort.

I personally know that the length of the Lost River from its navigable headwater to its terminus at a dam is 144 feet (24 people x 6 feet).  It is clear that the boat was not far from land at any time.  Dr. Horatio Crawdad, the world’s foremost authority on unnatural underground rivers of karstification origin said, “None of those passengers were more than three feet from land – straight down.”

It troubles me that the ancient profession of underground river pilotage has sunk to name calling and disputations among experts. Why can’t we all just paddle along? I say.  My great uncle’s apprenticeship to Injun Joe (astute readers will see that “Indiana Jones” is a direct commercial steal from Injun Joe) taught him and ultimately me cave river pilotage.

History of Underground River Navigation

Stephen Bishop, the slave guide at Mammoth Cave (1821 – 1857) discovered Echo River on the fifth level in 1840.  His master, Franklin Gorin, tried to minimize the discovery by saying, “Old Steven just found the top of that river.  All the water he found has


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