MARCH 16, 2007



Marian McConnell                      Pat Sims                       Chris Heptinstall            Al Stewart

Susan Burr                                Dave Socky                   Mary Sue Socky            Greg McCorkindale

Carl Cornett                               Trish Geiger                   Doug Feller                    Hayley Grasty

Rudy Jennings                           John Jennings                *Barbara Jennings          *Sam Aguilera

Cole Frantz                               *Carl Alls                       *Amy Faub

* Guest




2/17/2007 – BRG Trip to Porters Cave, Bath Co. VA.  Doug Feller, Susan Burr, Pat Sims. (Ldrs), Hayley Grasty, Jeff Richards, Sam Aguilera, Jimbo Poff, Susan Neate, Carl Alls, Leanne Barley.  Susan Burr followed Doug, Pat and rest brought up the rear.  Almost everyone did the Keyhole and Breakdown Room; they explored (got lost and found) then came back through the Keyhole, picked up Jeff (who was resting there for them) and attempted to get up in the Big Slit.  Then they came back down, and exited the cave. 


2/17:  BRG trip to McClungs Cave, Greenbrier Co. WVa.  Lightner Entrance.  Dave Socky, Rick Shortt (Ldrs), Aaron Moses, Greg McCorkindale, James Maughan, Carl Cornett, John Layman, Cameron Hall.  There was snow on eh ground.  Everyone rappelled in, did the mud crawl to the G Survey.  Greg hurt his knee.  Then they went to Bat Bone Crawl.  Greg DID get wet!  They also went to the 7 Fingers area.  The only got turned around once.  Headed out, no problems, 9 hour trip.


2/17: Trish Geiger and 17 other cavers spent a day in the Lipps Maze section of Organ Cave, WVa.  Ed Swepston was on the trip, and led them through the maze on a visit to the Octopus Room, the Centrifugal Room, etc.  They got out late, went back to WVACS fieldstation to warm up & sleep.


2/25: On the coldest day of the year, Dave Socky, Pat Sims and Doug Feller met with a Botetourt Co. landowner and checked out a sinkhole on the man’s property.  The sinkhole had slumped in.  They did a little digging, encouraged the owner to “let his kids dig on it” and came home.  Brrr!


3/3: Dave Socky attended the CCV Meeting in Winchester VA.  They went to the entrance of Ogden Cave, now owned by The Nature Conservancy.  Due to lots of rain, the cave was sumped shut. Dave Socky reported Josh Rubenstein is interested in doing some sort of Geological studies in the New Section of Grand Caverns


3/3: Grand Caverns Weekend.  Pat Sims, Susan Burr, Aaron Moses, Rick Shortt did the 2nd try on removing muddy footprints on the flowstone in the New Section of Grand Caverns.  Pat swears they didn’t get the porta-vac to work; they had better results using a deck of cards to remove the mud.  Leanne Barley, Bob Thren, Nick Socky, and Elliot George moved rock and scurried around in Fountain Cave.  Mary Sue Socky and Carol Tiderman did an all-out assault on removing coins from the Rainbow Pool in Grand Caverns – Mary Sue waded in, complete with black “Wellie” boots and yellow “water garden/cow gloves” up to her armpits.    After an early dinner at Battrerbys, several cavers accompanied Carol T. & Craig H’s educational tour for the Grand Caverns Tour Guides and volunteers up to Fountain Cave.  They found a red pseudo scorpion on a stalagmite in the back of the cave, and saw where the cave rats have been chewing off and otherwise rearranging the tags on the repaired formations.  Nick Socky was coming down with the flu.  Everyone who left for Roanoke got home before midnight. 


March 4: Trish Geiger, Cole Frantz, Carl Cornett, Brian Williams, and Marian McConnell went with Phil Lucas on a photo tour of Helectite Cave in Bath County. Had a great trip; got to go in the Attic Room, the Bullfrog Room, and take lots of pictures. Phil was a gracious host, and even disconnected his air testing equipment at the entrance for the trip. Note: Mill Pond Restaurant in Millboro Springs on Rt. 42 is no longer open.


3/6: Mary Sue Socky gave 5 talks on Caves to Ms. Barnett’s 9th grade Earth Science classes.  Talks & slide show went great, the kids seemed really interested.  Good “always get landowner permission” and safety messages.




Tomorrow:  3/17 – BRG trip to Cave Spring Cave, Rockbridge Co. VA.  Dave Socky is leader.

Sat. 3/24 – Vertical Workshop at RocWood Indoor Climbing Wall.  9a -4p.  Dan & Marian McConnell are leaders. Please sign up or RSVP to 309-4707.

Sun. 4/1Dixie Caverns Cleanup, 10a – 3p.  Mary Sue Socky is coordinator.

Easter 4/6-8: Grand Caverns Conservation weekend.  Andy Reeder and Meredith Johnson are coordinators

Apr. 27-29: Spring VAR in Durbin, WVa. 

? Is there a GS trip planned for 5/6 or 5/13? (Mother’s Day)  Marian will check with Nancy Kuebler. 



April 21 BRG trip: 

Plan A – Marian McConnell with ask Phil Lucas if he can arrange access for BRG to visit Butler Sinking Creek Cave.  If that does not work out, then –


Plan B – Vertical - Miller Cove Cave, Roanoke Co. VA.  Aaron Moses and Rick Shortt are leaders  AND

Horizontal trip – Pocahontas Poor Farm Cave, WVa.  Pat Sims and Susan Burr are leaders.


PROGRAM OF THE DAY – DVD, “Come to the NSS Convention in Marengo IN July 2007.  A highly entertaining 20 min. “Indiana Jones spoof”.  BRG showed interest.




TREASURER  3/16/07

General Fund       $ 4908.30

Conservation        $   584.00

Equipment Fund $   242.00

Cave Bucks         $     71.30    

 Total:    $5805.60


Committee Reports:

Newsletter:  Editor Dave Socky thanks people for articles, photos (extra photos can be seen on the E-DUMP site).


Membership:  BRG ha 55 members and 5 subscribers. Pick up your BRG membership cards, 2007 BRG Membership Lists, and Cave Rescue pocket cards at this meeting; remainder will be mailed to members.  


ROCKS: Is alive!  They have been ridgewalking… see trip reports.

S&T: the next vertical session will be March 24, 2007 at RocWood.  9a-4p. Contact Marian McConnell to sign up.


Conservation: vacant.  See Old Business

Ways & Means: vacant


Membership Proposals – there were none. 



·         Grand Caverns – Muddy footprint report – see trip reports. Pat & Susan say they are done.

·         Mt. Pleasant BSA Cave trip – MSS will contact them, encourage them to work w-Roanoke City Parks & Rec. 

·         Endless Caverns.  Chris Prinz (WVACS) will do the new map of Endless Caverns; he will coordinate with VAR officers.  There might be “check out” or “mop up” trips in Endless.

·         Eight Rivers Environmental Group – Not much happening, Spring VAR will be held very near this site.

·         Perry Saltpeter Cave – Dave Socky - No new report.

·         Rufe Caldwell Sinkhole Cleanup – Is on semi-permanent HOLD.  Joey Fagan wants Marian McConnell and Mary Sue Socky to contact, work with landowner to set up the cleanup. However, Rebecca of the says owner would have to pay 3K to 13K “up front” for the cleanout, owner might later be reimbursed.  Marian and Mary Sue choose not to talk with owner about this financial burden; the DCR people will have to do better to come up with a much cheaper, easier plan before we contact the landowner about the possibility of a sinkhole cleanout. 

·         Science Fair Project.  Elliot George and Nick Socky advance to the Regional Science Fair on March 24, 2007. 

·         DIXIE CAVERNS Conservation.  Hours have been changed to 10a -3p.  (MSSocky)  (See appendix below)


New Business


1.       New Cave Trip Checklist

·         Some guests on BRG trips seem to think the Caving checklist is a list of suggestions, instead of requirements.

·         Some sponsors and trip leaders are not checking to see if new folk have all the required caving gear.

·         BRG is not following its own rules, is allowing non-members to go caving without a trip sponsor/caving buddy. 

All these things are not good.  Some of these things are serious, may lead to a caving accident.  SO –


Introducing the NEW Cave Trip Checklist  (See appendix below)

  • Trip leaders need to assign “cave buddy/sponsors” to guests on each grotto trip.  If a guest does not have a sponsor, then they cannot go on the trip.   (This is NOT the same as sponsoring someone for BRG membership)
  • ALL CAVERS (old, new, guests) need to use the Cave Trip Checklist and make sure they are prepared for a cave trip. 
  • There will be a gear check at the parking lot BEFORE the trip leaves for the cave.  People without necessary gear will not be able to go on the trip.  (So sad, too bad)
  • The NEW Cave Trip Checklist will be published in the DUMP, and listed on the BRG e-DUMP website.



2.  New BRG By-Law Proposal

This addition to the BRG By-laws was written by Dan & Marian McConnell.  Dan McConnell could not be at the 3/16/07 BRG meeting.  It was introduced by Marian McConnell and reads: 


BRG members must abide by NSS ethics, and practice cave safety and conservation. BRG members who behave in an unsafe and/or disrespectful manner may be considered for revocation of their membership. Any such behavior will be called to their attention, (either verbally or in writing) to offer them the opportunity to correct it. If the behavior continues, they will be given a letter citing specific behaviors that need to be corrected, along with the consequences of non-compliance. If they continue to continue the unsafe/disrespectful behavior, their membership will come up for a vote by BRG members at a regular meeting within 2 months of the date of the letter. If a quorum exists and a majority of BRG members vote to revoke their membership, they will be given a letter to inform them of the final decision.


Marian & Dan


After some discussion, Marian McConnell proposed the new By Law.

Susan Burr, Pat Sims seconded. 

The proposal was immediately tabled, will be published in the April CARBIDE DUMP and will be brought up for discussion at the April 20 BRG meeting.




·         Clean Valley Day Mar 31, 2007.

·         Spring VAR Pre-registration forms.  Pre-registration discount ends April 1.

·         Easter Conservation weekend Apr 7-8, 2007 at Grand Caverns

·         Cave Hollow Farm (Balfour’s place in Unus, WV) Sinkhole clean out May 26.  9a - ? Camping, bunks available at WVACS.  See John Pearson for more info

·         SERA Cave Carnival, Monterey TN  May 31-June 3

·         Registration for the Baltic Speleological Congress 2007 is now open  http://www/


Meeting ended  9:07p.




Minutes submitted by

Mary Sue Socky

Secretary, Blue Ridge Grotto.



(Appendix # 1  Dixie Caverns Cleanup 2007.  Letter to Dixie Caverns)



6572 Woodbrook Drive SW

Roanoke VA  24018


March 19, 2007


Dixie Caverns

5753 W. Main Street

Salem, VA  24153



To:  Connie Browning, Owner

       Julie Carper, Caverns Manager



Hi Connie, Julie, Dixie Caverns Staff


Area cavers are looking forward to working in Dixie Caverns on Sunday, April 1, 2007. 

Project hours will be 10a – 3p

We are planning to tackle several areas of the cave for a “Spring Cleaning”.

I have also invited cavers from other area grottos to come and help out, so we may have more than the usual 6 or 7 volunteers for the conservation project.




Dust and lint – the cave formations are dull from dust and lint carried through by normal “tourist traffic”

Mud – all caves are muddy.  Some of Dixie’s mud has migrated to formations on the floor; some of the mud has dried to dust (see above).

Green – we will use a hydrogen peroxide solution to kill the moss and algae; no bad fumes, and it’s ecologically better for the cave (if the peroxide doesn’t’ work, we’ll go back to using the Clorox solution on future cleanups)



Lots of our work will involve water.  We need to have a water source.  A water source in the cave would be ideal, but if it’s too cold to cut the water on inside the cave (just for the day), we can work around it if we use a spigot outside the cave.  (Of course, the more water we have to carry into the cave will cut into our conservation activities in the cave.)


I have noticed several “water cooler bottles” inside the cave near the beginning of the “Entrance Hall”.  If these containers could be used for water, that would be great! 


Protective Rock.   We will need pieces of rock for two activities:

  • building protective rock barrier around formations on the floor (i.e. “the wedding party”) so tourists don’t inadvertently step on the floor formations.
  • using rock to cover/conceal conduit and wires throughout the cave. 


Mud.  We will use mud from the “dig” in the Wedding Bell Room to cover wires and conduit.




If at all possible, we need to enlist Dixie Cavern Staff support for pre-cleaning set-up.


·         Filling and distributing large water bottles throughout the cave.  

2 filled cooler containers by “the Cascades”

2 filled water containers in the “Wedding Bell Room”

·         Selecting and piling rock in “off trail” areas where it can be used to cover conduit/build barriers.  This rock can come from in the cave, or outside (stream or campground rocks should be washed off before being brought into the cave).  Do Not Break Formations!!  

·         Cavers may use brooms, rakes, ladders, etc. that are stored in the Entrance Building. These will be put back at the end of the project workday.




Depending on the number of cavers participating, the following areas will be tackled for the 2007 Dixie Caverns Cleanup:

  • Treating moss/green with hydrogen peroxide
  • “Hosing Down” – washing formations with water filled spray bottles/backpack sprayer
  • Using rocks to build protective barrier around formations on the floor
  • Using mud and rocks to cover wires and conduit
  • Moving mud OFF flowstone on the floor (Wedding Bell Room to end of cave)
  • Wiping down the cavern handrails
  • Sweeping out the Entrance Building foyer
  • Washing down the “Tunnel” walls and removing Haunted Cave string from the ceiling
  • Removing trash, coins from around the tourist trail and informal “wishing pools”.


Future Projects:

These are ideas the cavers have come up with as they tour Dixie Caverns – for the future.

  • Educational information, laminated posters in the Entrance Building
  • A decorative recycling fountain “Wishing Well” in the Entrance Building.
  • BRG and VAR cavers are always willing to work with the Dixie Caverns Staff to help with the cavern and tours.



Well, that’s it.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at or 540-989-7693.



Cave Softly,

Mary Sue Socky

NSS # 24206 FE

Blue Ridge Grotto of the NSS



cc: Connie Browning, Julie Carper



Appendix # 2 New BRG Cave trip checklist)



ALL items on this list are REQUIRED!

YOU must carry your own gear.

Think small, durable, and lightweight – because caving will trash, ruin, destroy anything you bring with you.


You will need TWO sets of clothes  (1) caving clothes, and (2) a complete change of clothes and shoes for the ride home. Avoid cotton clothing for your “cave clothes” (wet cotton is cold against the skin and causes hypothermia.)  Polypro, nylon, acrylic, synthetics, and wool will keep you warmer and drier underground. 


! Leave your “after cave” change of clothes in the car for the ride home.


CLOTHING: Bring to change into or wear into the cave:

o         Sturdy hiking boots with DEEP LUG SOLES and ankle support

o         Thermal underwear 

o         Coveralls, with thermal underwear underneath.   If you do not have coveralls, then wear layered clothing  (sweatshirt/sweater) over your thermals, and an “outer layer” of jeans or pants and a windbreaker/jacket.


o         Two pairs of Wool or Synthetic socks NO COTTON.

o         Knee Pads (optional, but highly recommended)

o         Leather-palmed or gardening gloves

o         Hair tie back (if you have long hair)

o         Bandana (optional)

o         Approved HELMET with a non-hanging chin strap and HELMET MOUNTED LIGHT  (BRG has extra helmets available for a small donation the first trip or two; after that you need to buy your own.)


o         CAVE PACKabsolutely necessary!  Choose a pack with adjustable straps that will hold ALL the equipment listed below.  A lightweight “day pack” or kid’s school backpack will work.  So will military surplus packs.  This is your survival pack; its contents will help you survive underground for 24-48 hours if you become separated from your group lost, hurt, or trapped.


In the Cave Pack, you must have:

o         Extra set of batteries for the primary electric light system.

o         A “back-up” light system (and extra batteries for it) if your primary light fails

o         Small flashlight with new batteries.

o         Candle and matches (store in a waterproof bag)

o         Unbreakable plastic water bottle.  NO GLASS OR CANS of carbonated drinks!  NO ALCOHOL!

o         Extra ziplock bags (optional)

o         Small (palm sized) first aid kit (optional, recommended)

o         Small pocketknife or multi-use tool (optional)

o         Whistle (optional)

o         One LARGE (30gal) plastic trash or leaf bag.

o         Food: trail mix, granola/power bars,” junk food” are best.  Choose high energy food that does not need to be refrigerated, can be “mashed” and can be eaten cold.



·     Cave Softly and Safely with landowner permission

·     If you bring it into the cave, you must bring it out

·     Leave no trace of your visit underground

·     Always make sure the leader has a “call back” with a responsible party – which cave, and what time you WILL call by.

·     The trip leaders have the right to say NO to someone who is not properly prepared/equipped or who does not comply with NSS safety and conservation ethics.  Cavers who cannot comply will be escorted out of the cave.

·     Please contribute gas money to the driver when carpooling.

·     NON-BRG members must have a BRG member sponsor on each cave trip, and they must sign a waiver.

Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time (NSS motto)