Cover image for Beyond Mammoth Cave : a tale of obesession in the world's longest cave
Beyond Mammoth Cave : a tale of obesession in the world's longest cave
Borden, James D., 1957-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Carbondale, Ill. : Southern Illinois University Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xvii, 353 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
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Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV200.655.K42 M253 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In Beyond Mammoth Cave: A Tale of Obsession in the World's Longest Cave , James D. Borden and Roger W. Brucker provide gripping first-person accounts of the discoveries, including Roppel Cave, that made Kentucky's Mammoth Cave three times longer than any other cave in the world.


Borden, a relative newcomer, and Brucker, a veteran explorer, bring a personal and sometimes conflicting view of their roles as adversaries in a race that lasted from 1972 through 1983 to find "big cave." They describe hazardous adventures, precarious climbs, and close calls from falling rocks. The perils are many and the trek arduous as they squirm through muddy tubes, wade in neck-deep cold water, and crawl over sharp rocks and gritty sand. Theirs is a tale of agonizing endurance spiced by spectacular discoveries.


But the cave was not the sole obstacle. The explorations were complicated by political intrigue and the rivalry between the Kentucky-based Cave Research Foundation and the Central Kentucky Karst Coalition, each seeking to make discoveries and hide secrets. Extreme stress, of course, evoked extreme behavior, ranging from selfishness to sacrifice, from outrageous humor to the deadly serious response.


Beyond Mammoth Cave includes maps by Patricia Kambesis that show the progression of cave discoveries in relation to the topography. Original line drawings by well-known illustrator Linda Heslop capture the dark mystery of the exploration. The book features five black and white photographs as a color gallery of photographs.


A sequel to The Longest Cave by Brucker and Richard A. Watson, this book is a comprehensive update of the speleological investigations in the Mammoth Cave region. Brucker's involvement provides continuity to the investigation.  


Author Notes

James D. Borden is a program manager at IBM, Poughkeepsie, New York. He is a Fellow of the National Speleological Society, a past director of the Cave Research Foundation, and managing director of the Central Kentucky Karst Coalition
Roger W. Brucker, retired Dayton, Ohio, advertising executive, fellow of the National Speleological Society, and past president of the Cave Research Foundation, is coauthor of three books

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xiii
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Authors' Notep. xix
Introductionp. 1
1. Blazing Glory and Blind Ambition: Roger Brucker Tells of the Thrill and Envyp. 9
2. Roots of a System: Jim Borden Seeks Involvement in the Longest Cavep. 19
3. Beginnings: Jim Borden Discovers the Search for a Long Cave Is Not Easyp. 33
4. A Way In: Jim Borden and Jim Currens Find a Cavep. 55
5. Small Rewards: The Roppel Cavers Grind It Out Through Tough Cavep. 65
6. Reunification: Bill Walter Returns to Lead the Way to the Big Cavep. 76
7. Roppel-Mania: Roppel Cave Explodes Northp. 90
8. Transformation: The CKKC Goes Big-Timep. 105
9. Treasures Beneath Doyle Valley: CRF Cavers Try to Expand the Big Cave into Joppa Ridgep. 113
10. The Legacy of George Morrison: Cavers Follow in the Footsteps of the Old-Timersp. 135
11. The Abyss: Roger Brucker and Lynn Weller Drop into Richard Zopf's Riverp. 158
12. Run for the River!: River Adventures and the Brass Ringp. 162
13. The French Connection: A Nude Swim and a Farewell Send-Offp. 179
14. Fortuitous Intersections: Roppel Cave Explodes North--Againp. 186
15. Stress Fractures: Roppel Cave Spreads Out and Tempers Wear Thinp. 203
16. Power Play: A Gasoline Spill Changes the Rulesp. 222
17. Secret Trip to Morrison Cave: Diana Daunt and the Bruckers Infuriate Everyonep. 236
18. Further Separations: Worn-out Cavers and Outside Pressurep. 244
19. House of Cards: A Breakdown Pile and Political Chaosp. 269
20. Comfortable Ignorance: The Roppel Cavers Try to Ignore Painful Problemsp. 279
21. A New Entrance to Secret Passages: Growing Complexity and Changed Relationshipsp. 291
22. Gasoline on the Fire: The Control Freaks Find Themselves Out of Controlp. 303
23. Stark Reality: The CKKC Surrenders to the Oddsp. 312
24. Swallowed Up: A New Beginningp. 320
Afterword: 300 Miles to 365 Miles ... and Morep. 325
Participants in the Mammoth Cave-Roppel Cave Exploration, 1972-1983p. 331
Glossary of Caving Terminologyp. 337
Indexp. 347