Rome wasn’t built in a day.
According to ask.com that is a very old saying, but for some reason, it is one I’ve long remembered from my very short past, although I don’t hear it being used today. It is such a fitting phrase which applies perfectly with the project to survey and explore the vast cave south of Corydon, Indiana known as Binkley. Cavers have been exploring and working in the cave since at least the 1950s, and continue to this day.
My relatively short, but continuing love affair with the cave began in June 2008 when long-time Binkley caver and Indiana Speleological Survey (ISS) member Gary Roberson, whose involvement with the cave stretches back to 1967 and continues to present day, asked me to take some photographs for a book he was writing on the cave. My heart and mind were captured immediately; not so much by what was already known of the cave (which was a lot: 22 miles at the time), but also by how much more there should be waiting to be found.
For years, my caving projects have leaned toward small ones which could be accomplished in a short amount of time; say one to three trips. I’d helped periodically with a larger project (Webster Cave in KY), and had been pleasantly surprised in what turned out to be a multi-mile project in Greene County, IN not long before discovering Binkley. However, after getting introduced by that first photo trip and then two more in August and October 2008, I was hooked on what I now know is the project without an end. Ever.
Why does that appeal to a caver now at the age of 52? The answer is complex, yet simple. Caver curiosity is a powerful thing, which could be likened to a powerful magnet such as the ones at the automobile salvage yards which can lift entire automobiles up and suspend them in mid-air, sort of like waving a toy on a string for a cat. In the case of Binkley Cave, picture a big block of limestone ‘cheese’ at least 150 feet thick and several square miles tall and wide. There are cave passages, like the holes in swiss cheese, strewn throughout the length, breadth, and height. And there should be, as the presence of airflow indicates, much, much more not yet discovered. The cave has revealed at least some of its secrets. Since the ISS has resumed exploration and survey in March 2009, the surveyed length of Binkley Cave has grown to nearly 36 miles! Most of the added amount was in cave passages previously unknown. Nearly two miles of passage in Blowing Hole Cave were surveyed in the 1960s by the ISS, and the cave was connected to Binkley in February 2012, resulting in a system some believe could be at least 50 miles in length, possibly much more.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Binkley Cave wasn’t discovered in a day, or a year, or a decade, or a half-century. That discovery will continue to be a living puzzle, hopefully for many generations to come. Join us, as we solve parts of that puzzle, while constantly creating more questions and mystery in the process.