Mile 1 of the Pettyjohn Cave survey

By: Hubert Crowell

Pettyjohn Cave was not always as accessible as it is today. There used to be a mountain dirt road that curved around the edge of the hill and crossed the stream bed northwest of the entrance. Sometimes we would get stuck in the deep mud holes and end up walking most of the way to the cave.

In an effort to correctly establish the true length of the known cave, I have been going over all the survey notes that I have from Richard Schreiber, myself and others and thought it might be of interest to tell what was surveyed and when.

The first attempt to survey the cave was in 1967 by Foxy Ferguson and Richard Schreiber and was eventually scrapped.

January 31, 1969 - Richard Schreiber and Della McGuffin started a survey at the entrance and continued to the back of the Autograph Room. There were no side shots made during this trip and they recorded 574.6 feet of True Horizontal Cave (T.H.C.). After entering the raw survey data into my cave mapping program, the distance turned out to be 576.6 feet T.H.C. From this point on I will use the computer calculated distances in place of the ones in the notes.

Figure 1 First page of the first survey book

February 1, 1969 - Richard Schreiber and Della McGuffin returned to mapping at the first junction room, mapping the high passage to the right. They sketched in the low formation room high along the right wall of the main entrance room but did not map it. They then returned to the junction maze and surveyed almost straight down into the passage leading to the Signature Room. They surveyed to the end of the narrow passage at the end of the Signature Room but did not survey two leads going out of this room.

On the way back out they surveyed a parallel passage and the north end of this lower level. Half way back up the climb they surveyed a passage the continued under the main room. This later became the preferred route to the Signature Room. This survey resulted in 1,040.07 feet T.H.C., not the 1,010.4 feet they listed. I believe that they were being conservative in estimating the True Horizontal Cave survey.

February 22, 1969 - Richard Schreiber, Della McGuffin and Bill Damewood returned for a weekend of mapping starting at the Flat Room and mapping through the Z-Bends. At the exit of the Z-Bends they noted the low passage on the left that later became the Pancake Squeeeze.

Mapping the passage in a southwestern direction they came to a thirty foot climb down to a stream passage. This stream originates from another cave, Screech Owl Cave located to the east of the entrance of Pettyjohn Cave. No connection has been made between the two caves.

They surveyed down the narrow stream passage that was later named the Baroody - Holsinger Passage, until it intersected the main stream passage in the cave. To the right one survey shot ended in breakdown with the stream flowing through the rocks. The up stream passage was mapped for 21 more survey stations before stopping for the day at a low crawl and upper tight belle squeeze over a mud slope. This survey resulted in 2,154.33 feet T.H.C. This survey was connected to the main room at the end of the following day with a short survey down from the main entrance room from the second junction.

Map produced with CAPS by:Hubert Crowell

Figure 2 3,895.42 feet at the end of the third day of the survey

February 23, 1969 - Richard Schreiber, Della McGuffin, Bill Damewood and Mike Hicks mapped the area that is what I now call the Eastern Maze and the connection to the survey of the previous day. This survey resulted in 788.97 feet T.H.C. The connecting survey station P10 on the original survey notes has a "?" after the station, leading me to believe that there may be some question about the starting point. Later surveys in the Eastern Maze may be of the same passages, at this time I am still trying to sort it out. They did map down stream to a point they referred to as "Hell's Hole."

March 8, 1969 - Richard Schreiber and Della McGuffin mapped more of the area below the 2nd junction in the main room. Mapped a short connection from the Eastern Maze back into the main room to station P9, again with a "?" mark. From station J7 in the Eastern Maze they mapped north again below the east wall of the main room. This survey resulted in 576.80 feet T.H.C.

April 20, 1969 - Marion O. Smith and Richard Schreiber starting mapping toward the Volcano Room from the main entrance room and after 143.71 feet, station G8 the bottom of a 5.2 foot vertical climb, reached the first mile of survey. On this same trip they discovered the Worm Tube and the Echo Room.

Map produced with CAPS by:Hubert Crowell

Figure 3 5,280.48 feet of horizontal cave mapped. Available in pdf format.

I started caving in 1971 and made my first trip into this great cave on July 23, 1972 with a Boy Scout Troop to the Signature Room. Mapping of the cave was well under way at that time and we occasionally ran into some of the mapping groups exiting the cave after a mapping trip. I started mapping and re-mapping parts of the cave in 1987 without access to the previously obtained survey data. My thanks to Marion O. Smith for sharing Richard Schreiber's survey notes with me and the history of the early exploration of Pettyjohn Cave. The raw survey data for the first mile is available in pdf format.

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