We Only Expected about Thirty:
The Opening of Walker's Mill Cave

Cave: Walker's Mill Cave
Location: Collier Township near Carnegie
By: Bob McLaughlin
Personnel: Chuck Hilpert, Bru Randall, Heather Houlahan, Ken Houlahan, Rick Falconer

OK, so it was perfect weather. I wasn’t sure what to expect but what I found was amazing. The grand opening of Walker’s Mill Cave in Collier Township near Carnegie was a part of the opening of the Panhandle Trail. This is a Rails to Trails project which was to receive a sizable check from the State. Our Chuck Hilpert was a prime mover of this worthwhile endeavor. There were booths from various organizations and a band playing continuously. I had said I would help out and found my niche almost immediately. There was a line forming to tour the cave. Bru Randall searched for a pen and pad to make a list of those waiting. Heather Houlahan, who was there with her husband, Ken and their rescue dogs to give a demonstration, was kind enough to lend them to us. Each trip was taking about 15 minutes and was led by Chuck with Rick Falconer at entrance control. I, feeling much in control of the growing line of cave sightseers, soon found that, given a 15 minute trip of no more than 6 people at a time, the wait time for an "appointment" was approaching 4 hours. I gave notice to all that this was the case and I would call out their name when their turn came. Those not present could be put at the end of the list or could contact the Township or Chuck (via E-mail) for a viewing at a later date.

Then another problem arose. Some only wanted to see the entrance. Another line was forming, not as long as the first. I took a short walk up to let Rick know about this and see how many could be at the entrance without crowding.

Out from the darkness a head appeared. "How many more" Chucks head asked. I did a quick count and said, "we’re looking at about 5 more hours worth of tours. Do you want me to keep on taking names"? "I’ve been telling folks the approximate wait time and the contact number for tours another day". The head said, "Keep’em comin". I asked if they needed something to eat. I sure did. We had been there for about 6 hours already and Chuck had only left the cave twice. Rick hadn’t budged from the entrance. "Yeh, hot dogs and pop". Mike Wolf and I headed off to get food with the entrance viewing line and tour list in the hands of poor Rick who now had double duty. Chuck wouldn’t take a break and let someone else do the tour.

After our hearty meal of hot dogs and pop and with the entrance viewers becoming a steady stream, our tour list started to shrink. I had been calling out names of folks who had signed up hours ago and they had apparently moved on or gone home. Yeh right! No such luck. They were returning to ask if it was their turn yet. Most understood and noted the contact number but some were upset. What did they not understand? I had to move on down the list to those who had remained within earshot of my increasingly hoarse voice. Some folks were trying to sneak around me to view the entrance. One elderly guy who seemed in a daze tried about 3 times. Most were just folks who didn’t understand "THERE IS A LINE--- DUH!" While reorganizing the list two figures appeared to be going up the trail as if they owned the cave. I asked them as I had the others to please observe the line. Chuck appeared and introduced me to the well-dressed figure. It was State Senator Tim Murphy who was there to present the check.

Not to be outdone by this, a lady with two children demanded to know why She couldn’t go in now because she had been on the list earlier, left to check out the other stuff, but now was back. I explained as I had earlier that if you are not here when I call your name I must move on and your name will be put at the end of the list blah blah blah. "But I still don’t see why……". I explained again. She repeated But I don’t see……." And on and on this went, kids starting to cry etc. until I realized that this is the definition of stupid. We were both stupid. To repeat an action over and over, expecting a different outcome is stupid. I then said that I couldn’t explain it any other way. Her husband (?) who had been watching this said, "Come on, let’s go. This guy is just being a jerk". I freaked! Throwing the pad on the ground I said, "If you can do this better then do it". Thanks to Mike for taking over. My nerves were shot and I had to go home.

Respectfully submitted,

Bob (or am I boB?)

Robert R McLaughlin NSS 40235

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Modified: Wednesday, 12-Mar-2014 09:38:22 EDT