Long Quarry Cave Trip

After several months of research and planning, Jeff Jahn (MAKC life member) had an opportunity to meet the owner of Long Quarry Cave in Needmore, PA. From discussions with Jeff, who made this trip possible, the owner was caver-friendly but wished only to allow trips that were few and far between.

On Saturday, May 27, Jeff Jahn and Janet Tinkham (both MAKC members) of the Front Royal Grotto drove from Virginia to Needmore, PA where Mike Schirato and myself (both MAKC board members) met at the town’s post office. The day turned out to be sunny, humid, and very warm, a perfect day to be underground.

After a brief introduction and review of the cave and topographic maps, we were on our way to the owner’s house where we had special permission to park and hike directly to the cave. After arriving at the owner’s home, we geared up and hiked in the woods and up the hill, and quickly located the entrance of the cave in a small, abandoned quarry face on the mountainside. The cave was discovered by Henry Garland during quarry operations in the 1930s.

The entrance is large by Pennsylvania standards and issued a cool, comfortable breeze. Upon entering the cave, past vandalism of some formations was typical closest to the entrance. There was evidence of a significant bat hibernaculum present throughout the cave as guano lay scattered about the muddy floors of the cave. Very little evidence of spray paint existed but recent but interesting inscriptions on the walls were present especially at the end of the main trunk passage.

The three most notable features include a mud sculpture room, scalloped walls, and helectites. Unfortunately the camera was left mid-way through the trip so no photos were obtained of the sculptures. The mud sculpture room was small compared to other caves with these rooms but nonetheless impressive. Scalloped walls could be found throughout the passages.

Geologically, the cave generally followed a primary joint, with a few secondary joints following parallel to the main trunk of the cave, in the Keyser & Tonoloway formations. The steeply dipping rock beds contributed to the slanted nature of passageways and abundance of breakdown. Formations are uncommon except at a few areas especially away from the entrance. Helectites were found in scattered pockets along some passages. The cave is still active as standing water is present. There was no stream found during this visit. Estimated length of passage is over 1,300 feet (large for PA standards).

The nature of the cave was typical which consisted of crawlways, few stoopways, walkways, climbs, and squeezes. And not to forget, MUD! We came out of the cave covered from head to toe as if we were in Hall or Harlansburg caves.

In summary, a caver can expect a variety of passageways primarily composed of breakdown, and very muddy and damp to wet conditions. Knee pads are a must. This is a great cave for new cavers to provide exposure to a variety of passageways and conditions of a typical Pennsylvania cave. Though the mud in here is not as deep as in Harlansburg Cave, it is comparable. For more information on the cave and access, please contact the Franklin County Grotto.

By Kerry Speelman
May 27, 2006
Fulton County, PA