The 11th annual Restoration Field Camp at Mammoth Cave began on Sunday evening August 8th.
The continuing major project for the field camp is the removal of the wooden bridges along Echo River Trail in the cave. On Monday we started in to the cave with about 28 eager participants carrying tools and ready to attack the bridges.
Due to the limited space at the end of the bridge only a few at a time were actually able to work on dismantling the bridge structure while the rest carried bridge pieces down the trail to a work area where the decking and beams were cut into smaller pieces and bagged. The bags were then carried from the work area to a storage area near River Hall.
While some were dismantling the bridge, others were removing the PVC waterpipe along side the bridge and still others were removing the old electrical wiring. In total about 60 feet of bridge was dismantled and quite a bit more of the PVC pipe and wiring was removed.
The majority of the material was moved to the River Hall staging area with some left at a high area about halfway between the end of the bridge and River Hall. The intent was to insure all of the material was stored above the flood zone and that most would be accessible to those working on the weekend camps when the high water would prevent further dismantling of the bridge.
On Wednesday afternoon two educational trips were scheduled for the group. The majority went on the easier trip following the Violet City lantern tour route while about seven went on a seven and one-half loop trip at the elevator entrance to view a part of the cave no longer shown on tours.
Thursday evening we were treated to an after hours tour of Diamond Caverns which has recently changed owners and is now owned by a partnership of five caver families. They are Mr & Mrs Gary Berdeau, Mr & Mrs Gordon Smith, Mr & Mrs Stan Sides, Mr & Mrs Larry McCarty and Mr & Mrs Roger McClure.
Friday we spent the final day on the Cascade Hall side of the river moving material stored at Valley Way Side Cut to Ole Bulls' Concert hall again to move the material above the high water line so it could be removed on the weekend camps when the water was up.
Friday evening we the NPS held a cookout at Maple springs for us and provided a great meal which everyone appreciated.
It was a week of hard work but it felt good to help in the restoration of a part of the longest cave in the world. There was lots of fun and fellowship and a good time was had by all.
The October weekend trip removed all of the material that was staged by the summer field camp participants.
2000, What will it bring? The next field camp will be held on August 6-12 with more bridge removal and who knows what else. It will surely be fun along with the work. See you there?