Mammoth Cave Restoration Field Camp


After last years rescue many had wondered if that was the last Field Camp but, here we are again! The 1994 Mammoth Cave Restoration Field camp was the sixth annual event and was held from July 31 to August 6. As Bob Ward had assumed some extra temporary duties with the Park Service he would not be able to spend as much time with us this year as in the past. Rick Olsen would be filling in for Bob and spending the majority of his time this week working with us. Norm Rogers was again camp coordinator this year.

An additional guest this year was Tina Tyvek who had appeared late last year at camp. She was one of the suits used to clean the Snowball Dining Room (with appropriate clothing) and had been sending cards and letters from all around the world to Norm Rogers since last years camp. Unfortunately Tina was fatally injured Sunday afternoon when a van driven by one of the participants backed into her lawn chair and knocked her to the ground. She must be a hardy caver as she was miraculously resurrected later in the week.

Sunday evening brought the normal introductions and outline of this years projects. The projects were trail patching in main cave, graffiti removal in the restrooms at Great Relief Hall, wood removal along Echo River Trail and entrance modification and gate replacement at the Colossal Cave Entrance. A special presentation of a No Popeye Pancake T-shirt was made to Carole Rogers

Monday one small crew started working at Colossal Cave where a concrete base for the entrance gate had restricted the normal drainage into the cave. This was to be removed (partially) and a new gate installed further into the cave to return the drainage pattern to a more natural state.

A second crew of about 15 began some trail patching near Gothic Avenue while a third crew of 6 or so started graffiti removal in the restrooms at Great Relief Hall. The trail patching was completed in short order and this group then moved to Audubon Avenue for a more extensive trail patching job. Previous trail patching had used material removed from near the end of Audubon Avenue. The Park Service had decided that this was a bad idea and future trail repairs were to be made with materials at the repair site. So... with no surplus material where it was needed the plan was to break up the hard packed trail surface, mix it with water (from the entrance waterfall) and then smooth it out making a new smooth surface and eliminating the potholes in the trail. Easier said than done, it proved to be a lengthy task.

Tuesday work continued at Colossal with a few people swapping places with the other crews. The graffiti removal in the restrooms continued. The graffiti was mainly scratch marks made in the natural surface patina rather than smoked names that were common in other areas. The removal process consisted of wetting the surface and lightly rubbing it with brushes, rags etc. to blend in the dark and light areas. The results were quite good. The Audubon Avenue trail patching continued with the work area taped off as this was on an active tour route.

Wednesday work in the restrooms was completed. The Colossal Cave project continued and the trail patching in Audubon Avenue was finished. A crew was sent to Cascade Hall to remove the wood from the former boat storage rack. Part of the crew remained behind to dismantle the remainder of the boat rack. They quickly discovered it was made of reinforced concrete rather than wood as they had assumed. After a short period of attacking this monster with sledge hammers and doing no damage to it they decided to abandon the project. They must of gotten confused on the way out because they were soon in unfamiliar passage and it took them a couple of hours to get back to familiar passages again.

Tina Tyvek was recovering and had found a new friend - GI Joe.

Thursday the majority of the camp went to Echo River Trail to remove wood. The plan was for one bag load per person to be removed and then hauled all the way out of the cave. There were still a few working on the Colossal project. After the wood was out of the cave work for today ended. Thursday evening was a reward trip on the Frozen Niagara tour route. We entered the New Entrance and exited the Frozen Niagara entrance just like the tourists. No hard hats, no packs and electrically lighted passages and a slow and easy tour with time to photograph and enjoy the cave.

Friday the entire Field Camp crew went to Colossal Cave to remove the debris from that project. This consisted of the old gate, a steel monster that took four people to haul up the hill, the broken concrete from the former gate base and the tools used on the project. We formed a chain gang part of the way up the hill and passed the broken concrete from person to person till we reached the end of the line. Then we moved on up the hill and repeated the process until the top was reached. The debris was loaded into a waiting trailer and removed from the area.

Friday evening at supper Tina Tyvek suddenly went into labor. Bob Ward was there and was called upon to deliver the baby. The delivery was successful with the baby upon arrival having a tattoo that resembled the tattoo of one of the Field Camp participants.

Saturday and another Field Camp was successfully concluded. A reward trip into Colossal cave was taken by many and ended almost as a through trip out the Bedquilt entrance. Actually they got to the Bedquilt gate but had no key so they had to return back the way the came in. Some chose to take regular tours and enjoy the cave with the rest of the tourists.