The Kentucky Caver Quarterly Proceedings of the
Bluegrass Grotto: the North Central Kentucky Area Chapter of the National Speleological Society
Page 02 [contents] ||   ||  ||
 vol. 41. iss. 3, September 2006
been focused on the largest and driest caves such as Thornhill and Big Bat.  Currently, a new generation of cave survey and cartography has begun in the Webster Cave Complex – the downstream portion of the Sinking Creek system.  While the Webster Cave Complex is made up of a dozen or so caves, Webster Cave is by far the longest, and it is here that those of us belonging to the Webster Cave Complex Survey Group (WCCSG) have focused most of our attention. Humongous passages and elegant subterranean lakes place Webster in the realm of the unbelievable.  The main trunk of this cave is three miles long, with heights reaching 30 feet and a width often exceeding twice that figure.  In places, continuous lakes extend for over a half-mile with neck deep water from wall to wall.  Furthermore, like many caves along Sinking Creek, Webster can flood with a vengeance.  Six to 30 foot flood swells are common during heavy, widespread rains.  Despite this, with appropriate gear and dedication, exploration in Webster can be a real joy and adventure, and the fun has just started.

Character & Configuration
    The Webster Complex has experienced sporadic exploration since discovery in the early 1970's.  In late 1970, Angelo George was able to see the large karst head containing the Spring Entrance of Webster using aerial photographs of the area.  A reconnaissance trip
performed by D. Hale and Bob Walker on 28 November, 1970 turned up just what George had been looking for: a big

cave.  Of course, the local residents had known about the cave for many years, and many relate stories of having ventured down to the first lake inside the Main entrance, but there are no accounts of any deeper excursions.

History
    In early December 1970, Pat Stephens, Bob Weller, and Angelo George visited the cave for the first time.  It became apparent that boats would be needed to successfully explore the cave.  Returning with a raft, over a mile of main trunk was traversed.  By 1971, the entrance area, about a mile of the main trunk, and some of what would become known as Parks Avenue had
been mapped.  Although full of possibility, the Louisville Grotto turned its attention away from Webster and to other big systems in the upper reaches of Sinking Creek.  Bill Holmes and Ron Hubbard were the next cavers to take note of Webster.  In 1972, they took over the project, and began the first comprehensive survey of the cave.  Over the next five years, most of the main trunk and several side leads were mapped.  By the time work had begun to slow in late 1974, over seven miles had been charted.
   Due to the unavailability of printed copies of the Webster map, the Kentucky Cave Studies Group began a new survey of the cave in 1985.  Understaffed from the onset, the project spanned nearly nine years.  By 1994, when the survey disbanded, only six of the Webster Cave System's estimated ten explored miles had been mapped by line plot.  The main goal of the new survey was to locate any possible new entrances.  None were found.  By far, the most exciting discovery attributed to the KCSG was the North Bore and what lay beyond the North

Page 02 [contents] ||   ||  ||