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Binkley Cave system breaks into top 10


November 06, 2013 | 08:19 AM

The latest investigation by a four-person speleological survey team has just added 1,763 feet of a recently discovered section of the Binkley Cave system known as The Wild Wild West.

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Adventurers discover a new section of the Binkley Cave system during an underwater crawl. (click for larger version)
A major section of the cave, known as Indiana Caverns southwest of Corydon, was opened to the public in June after an immense cache of significant prehistoric remains were discovered.

"For the first time ever, this puts the Binkley Cave system, of which Indiana Caverns is a part, into the top 10 longest caves in the United States," said Gary Roberson, the 66-year-old Indiana Caverns developer. "The new, established survey length of 38.452 miles means this cave is now the ninth longest in the country. The team explored at least another 1,000 feet of walking virgin cave beyond the official survey, demonstrating that there is much more cave to be mapped."

Known regions of the Binkley Cave system have been rapidly growing in length since March when Miller's Cave, a long known but a relatively short cave in length, was connected into the system. This new entrance shortened travel times to the far reaches of the cavern where most of the potential for new discoveries lay.

Indiana Speleological Survey cavers discovered the major new Wild Wild West section through a 1,700-foot-long low crawl, much of it through water. During the last 600 feet, cavers were forced to turn their head sideways with one ear in the water just to breathe. Finally, they popped out into the Wild Wild West, discovering a new underwater river system. In such conditions, it takes strong cavers at least three hours to travel less than 4,000 feet, less than three-fourths of a mile. The new survey takes the cave under large sandstone-capped ridges, raising cavers' hopes for drier, more caver-friendly passages above the underground river.

"These discoveries have drastically changed our understanding of the cave and its future potential," Robson said. "It is now certain that the Binkley Cave system is one of the largest in the country, and its ultimate length may be much greater than we know now or ever dreamed."

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Corydon Democrat, 301 N. Capitol Ave., Corydon, IN 47112 1-812-738-2211 email