Presently there are two written accounts of the Salisbury Mine Cave, both from caving publications. The first is a rather aging trip report from the Cleve-O-Grotto News November-December 1960 which describes mainly the cave passage and includes a neato sketch which shows hundreds, if not a thousand feet of cave. Don't confuse the regular looking passages as a lame attempt at drawing mine tunnels; I think those represent a network maze similar to Bear, Coon, Laurel, and others. If so, we will know as soon as we get around to dragging a tape in there. Salisbury "cave" was easily a mile long at the turn of the century.
Another map was sketched by Jim Kennedy in 1987 and perhaps never published. Here the cave passages are largely ignored in detail but the mine is represented well enough to be useful underground. It has been used mostly by the PA Game Commission to track winter bat clusters and temperature stations. After sketching a few hours myself I will admit Jim did an admirable job of winging his map on the fly, though he cheated quite a bit (almost none of the pillars line up in real life, despite how hard Jim tried to make them so, and also it looks like his north arrow is off 90°) Still, if you got lost using his map, perhaps you have no business being there in the first place. The great thing about this map is we can almost deduce where the 1960 mapped passage is. At first I assumed it was off the nice crawl starting northeast from C11. However, in this scenario the 1960 passages are just too numerous to fit in the limited space before popping out into C4 and C5. For reference on the 1987 map, C11 is located at the "cave passage" just above "Mine Tunnels". The 1960's passages would fit much nicer in the '87 area labeled "many cave passages". More evidence is that C11 is practically virgin....so things are really pointing toward just a pile of neglected cave sitting in various places around the mine. If the '60's passages are 1,000' and C11 is (at least) hundreds of feet, well, well, well...
Now that you are through flipping back and forth between this page and the plot page just to follow that last paragraph, the second article is from the 1992 issue of my old club Loyalhanna. The Trog carried a brief story and a photo or two explaining the reasoning for the gating of the site. In the 30 years between those two articles, the Salisbury Mine seems to have had little attention from cavers probably due to it's isolation from the major cave areas. Here we are today, another 10 years before finally looking hard at the site from a speleological standpoint. If anyone can point me towards references to the mine in state geological literature, I would love to add those references to this page, if they exist.
|SALISBURY CAVE- November 12, 13
By Dean Wilder from the Cleve-O-Grotto News November-December 1960
On Saturday morning, John Ludwigson, Tom Jones, and I set out for southern Pennsylvania to investigate a possible new cave which we had visited for a short time in July. The cave is located near Salisbury, Pennsylvania, in an abandoned limestone quarry. The quarry (mine) is made up of large tunnels perhaps 25 feet high by 50 feet wide. It seems that the cave was once a rather extensive system, but was mostly destroyed when the mine was dug. Many crawlways and stoopways wind in and out of the peripheral mine passages. Some of the entrances to these natural passages are quite dangerous because of rock loosed by blasting, and it is advisable to try to climb to a high entrance.
The interior of the cave has a great deal of breakdown, some extremely tight crawls (8 inches!), and a small amount of standing room. The floor is a sticky clay fill which is quite deep in places, and many tight passages can easily be enlarged. We found one small stream, or trickle, flowing along the passage we mapped; it had been more active the last time we were there.
What with the sticky clay and tight crawls, we got as muddy as if we'd been in Harlensburg. In all, we mapped nearly 200 feet of cave, but we spent most of the time exploring. We camped in an old mining shack near the mouth of the quarry. Although we had a charcoal fire, and the shack protected us from rain or snow, it was extremely cold (the river froze over). We left for Cleveland at about 3:00 PM on Sunday.
The Great Salisbury bat gating project
In October of 1992 employees of the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) and several volunteer cavers from Loyalhanna Grotto installed two bat-friendly gates at the entrances to Salisbury Mine and Cave in Somerset County. This project was funded by the PGC and undertaken at the request of the owner, Guy Wayne Hardesty. This project was the largest, most time-consuming, and most expensive bat gate constructed in Pennsylvania.
Why go through all that trouble for a site that most cavers never even heard, of, let alone visited? Salisbury Mine/Cave is located in Southern Somerset County near the town of Salisbury (pronounced SALS-berry). A brief mention of it was made in The Caves of Western Pennsylvania (1976) but the cave could not be located for that report. In the mid 1980s Cal Butchkoski of the PGC relocated the mine and secured permission for a winter bat survey. The remote (i.e. undisturbed) location of the mine and the temperature ranges inside the passages made it ideal for hibernating bats. The first (1986) survey produced 315 bats. The most recent (1991) had 994. Salisbury mine intersects cave passages throughout its length. Very few cavers have explored these passages. Almost all who have been rewarded with virgin passage. This past year some kids got in and scared the locals (including the owner) with some "devil worship." Before the entrances could be blasted shut, Butchkoski negotiated a gating agreement. The gate will keep out unwanted individuals, protect the hibernating bats, and hopefully allow summer visitation by experienced cavers. In fact, Rick Page will be starting a survey project there after the hibernating season is over.
Two gates were built, based on the bat-friendly design developed by the Virginia Department of Natural Resources and others. The lower entrance (the one used by most cavers since it is 30 feet from a parking area) now has a solid (no door) gate, about 22 feet wide and 8 feet high. The upper (main) entrance is 34 feet wide and up to 14 feet high. Both gates took 4.5 weeks to build. Cal Butchkoski (PGC and Nittany Grotto), Jim Kennedy (PGC, Loyalhanna, Nittany and HCCH), and Jim Hart (PGC and Franklin County Cavers ) did the majority of the work. Other Loyalhanna members that volunteered some time included Keith Christenson, Rick Page and Lee (super vertical wetsuit caver) Blazek. The total cost of the gate was around $13,000. That's right, $13,000! Over six tons of steel, seven yards of concrete, 40 2x4?s and 10 sheets of plywood (for forms) 100 pounds of welding rods and seven gallons of paint were used. The upper entrance has a set of double doors that opens to 6 by 7 feet.
Salisbury Mine /Cave is closed for six months in the winter. The only trip is the annual bat survey in February. During the summer, access may be granted by contacting the owner. Recreational trips will be discouraged, but mapping and digging trips will be scheduled. See Rick Page or Jim Kennedy for more information.
Special thanks to Kerry Speelman for sharing his files and forming the basis of this page.