Last Revision 2/14/2022
The Mid-Atlantic Karst Conservancy (MAKC) is a non-profit organization incorporated in the state of Pennsylvania. The MAKC’s purpose is to promote the study, conservation, and preservation of caves and karst resources and the education of the public about those resources. In the winter of 2022, MAKC purchased a .74-acre parcel of property containing the entrance to McClure Cave located in McClure PA, Snyder County.
Lying within a quarry of Keyser Limestone that operated in the early 1900s, McClure Cave is the longest and most significant cave to date in Snyder County, PA. Although an exact date has not been confirmed, an article from the local paper at the time The McClure Plain Dealer had written that while blasting rocks for a stone crusher within the quarry, WPA Workers were surprised to find a cave. Several workers entered the cave that day to explore, noting numerous specimens of stalactites and stalagmites to be found in various compartments and a large pool of water with an immense depth.
At the time of the first known survey in June of 1948, the cave was accessible only to a point which would come to be known as the “New Extension Crawl”. In the summer of 1975 this extension was enlarged by the Biff Burger Exploration Team (BBET), giving access to an additional 900 feet of cave and followed up with a new survey by York Grotto that same year in December.
The cave had remained ungated until 2015 when the owner of the property, Dori McKnight, reached out to Nittany Grotto, Inc. (NGI) for assistance. With the help and generosity of volunteers, NGI was able to gate the cave in 2016 and created a management plan with the owner.
in 2018, a crew of cavers from NGI excavated the “New Extension Crawl” for a more comfortable crawl, making the furthermost section of the cave accessible to all.
Cave Access Policy
The cave is opened to organized, responsible cavers. While membership is not required for access to McClure Cave, the MAKC strongly recommends that visitors be members of the MAKC. Membership in the NSS is also encouraged. Membership applications can be found at https://www.karst.org and http://www.caves.org.
McClure Cave and extension are developed on the side of a ridge underlain by Keyser Limestone of Silurian Age. This massive crystalline limestone, highly fossiliferous, dips to the northwest at 45 degrees with a strike of approximately 65 degrees.
Bats have been observed in McClure Cave.
Further research needs to be done.
Following the larger first room, there are two larger pools of water which contain calcite rafts. The first pool is about 10 feet across with a depth of about 3 feet The second pool is divided from the first pool by a combination of older rimstone damns and flowstone and sits about 5 feet above the first pool. Its depth is fully unknown and appears much deeper than the first. Due to the concerns of the large calcite rafts that form atop the second pool, no attempt of measurements has been taken.
“The Keyhole” section of the cave will fill with water occasionally with a depth of up to 10 feet The end of this passage contains a massive flowstone. The water from this section of the cave flows towards the end of the cave in a western direction.
The most western part of the cave, within the “Big Room” is contained a small stream. This stream travels east and sumps into a small 5 foot pit where it is thought to reemerge within the northwest passage of “The Oubliette”. “The Oubliette” contains a small stream that flows east through the entire corridor of the room and disappears under a small ledge. A dry stream bed within this room indicates that during higher water stages, water will travel north across the center of the room and disappears under a separate ledge with an immediate right to the east.
Preserve Management Team
The MAKC board will designate a preserve management team to oversee the property. The preserve manager shall report directly to the MAKC board of directors on all issues concerning the McClure Cave Preserve. To contact the preserve manager e-mail: email@example.com
The cave location is not to be published or distributed without prior written consent of the owner. Specific cave location information, such as directions to the cave, WILL NOT be released to the general public. Caving organizations publishing electronic forms of their newsletters should remove reference to the cave location in the electronic format/archive and may publish trip reports to the cave, where they are not widely available to members of the general public.
Pennsylvania Cave Protection Act
Pennsylvania Cave Protection Act (1990), No 1990 -133, SB 867, Signed into law Nov. 21, 1990
It shall be unlawful for any person, without the expressed written permission of the landowner, to:
(1) Willfully or knowingly break, break off, crack, carve upon, write, burn, mark upon, remove or in any manner destroy, disturb, mar, or harm the surfaces of any cave or any natural material which may be found therein, whether attached or broken, including speleothems, speleogens and sedimentary deposits.
(2) Break, force, tamper with or otherwise disturb a lock, gate, door, or other obstruction designed to control or prevent access to any cave, even though entrance thereto may not be gained.
(3) Remove, deface, or tamper with a sign stating that a cave is posted or citing provisions of this act.
(4) Store, dump, litter, dispose of or otherwise place any refuse, garbage, dead animal, sewage, or toxic substance harmful to cave life or humans in any cave or sinkhole.
(5) Burn within any cave or sinkhole any material, which produces any smoke or gas, which is harmful to any organism in the cave. This paragraph shall specifically exempt acetylene gas emissions created by carbide lamps used as a source of light by persons using the cave.
(6) Kill, injure, disturb, or otherwise interfere with any cave life, including any cave roosting bat, or interfere with or obstruct the free movement of any life into or out of any cave, or enter any cave with the intention of killing, injuring, disturbing, or interfering with life forms therein, except where public health may be threatened.
(7) Remove, deface, tamper with, or otherwise disturb any natural or cultural resources or material found within any cave.
(8) Disturb or alter in any way the natural condition of any cave.
- All trash and waste from both the surface and underground must be packed out.
- ATVs, dirt bikes and snowmobiles are not permitted on the preserve.
- No camping or campfires are permitted on the preserve or within the cave.
- Illegal drugs, drug paraphernalia, alcohol and alcoholic beverage containers are not allowed on the preserve.
Under the current management plan, the cave will be monitored for degradation: If degradation is observed, the plan will be adjusted accordingly. Sensitive areas should be avoided to protect the unique underground formations and any wildlife observed should not be disturbed.
- The gate MUST be kept always locked except when cavers are entering or exiting the cave. This is to keep unauthorized entry from occurring which has happened in the past.
- The key should be left near the front of the cave, not accessible from the gate and in a location that is known to all members in your party if an emergency occurs.
- Please do not change clothes in clear view of the public road. Use the trees / bushes / vehicles / Kiosk to provide some privacy. There is horse and buggy traffic on the public road and modesty is important. Please be discrete.
- Please do not trespass onto neighboring properties during your visit. We currently enjoy good relations with our neighbors and very much want to continue those relations. There is a foot trail from the parking area to the cave. Please limit your travel to the parking area and established trails.
- Gatherings larger than the members of the immediate cave trip are not permitted without specific permission from MAKC. Activities on the preserve should be limited to: arrival, parking, preparation for the cave trip, a short hike (~ 200 yds) to and from the cave, changing back into street clothes, and departure.
- Visitor conduct should adhere to National Speleological Society conservation guidelines. Visitor conduct should also reflect NSS Safety and Techniques Committee recommendations for safe caving practices.
- Recommended group size limitations are a minimum of four (4) cavers and a maximum of eight (8) cavers. More than that number must have the approval of the preserve manager.
- It is advisable to only have two cavers crawl through certain sections of the cave at a time. These sections are the “New Extension” and the passage that leads to “The Oubliette”.
- Visiting the Oubliette is highly advised for experience cavers only and requires vertical gear to access. Permission for this section of the cave should only be completed with a trip leader who has had first-hand knowledge.
- Trip leaders are responsible for informing all the participants of the guideline and visitation rules before entering the preserve. Any improper behavior reported to the MAKC may result in those persons or the grotto being barred from future visits. Organizations such as the Boy Scouts are expected to comply with their internal rules in addition to the policies outlined by the MAKC.
- Monetary compensation of the trip leader (cave-for-fee) is strictly prohibited. It is the intention that this cave be managed under the Pennsylvania Landowner Liability Act / Recreational Use of Land and Water Act (RUA) (1966/1992) No. 586, HB 1005, signed into law Feb. 2, 1966.
- All groups are encouraged to submit trip reports to MAKC via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Some trip reports may be used in the conservancy’s newsletter.
- Any participants under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian on the trip.
- All cavers must be properly equipped. Helmets and three (3) sources of lights are required.
- Each trip coordinator is requested to notify the MAKC property manager when the entire group has safely exited the cave, or if any problems have arisen either in the cave or on the preserve property. mcclurecave@email@example.com can be used for the notification or cell phone numbers can be exchanged when the permit application is approved.
- Exceptions to any part of the access policy or management plan must be obtained in writing from the MAKC board of directors in advance.
The Mid-Atlantic Karst Conservancy, its board of directors, the National Speleological Society, or its local chapters (grottos) or any individual members thereof will not be liable for any damages, accidents, injuries, or death on the surface or subsurface of the property. All the above-named organizations will also not be liable for any damage or loss of personal property while visiting the preserve.
The MAKC promotes a policy of non-discrimination for everyone. That policy, adopted by the MAKC Board on February 16, 2019, is as follows:
The MAKC does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, granting membership, selection of project volunteers and serving on internal committees. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all board of directors, officers, agents, members, volunteers, and contributors.
The MAKC follows the National Speleological Society’s anti-harassment policy. That policy is as follows:
The National Speleological Society and the MAKC are dedicated to providing a safe and harassment-free (experience) environment for our members and attendees at our events, on social media and within our organization. We will not tolerate harassment in any form. Any attendee that violates this policy will be (told) asked to leave the event and may be subject to further disciplinary action at the discretion of the MAKC Board.
Harassment includes but is not limited to inappropriate comments, inappropriate sexual behavior that warrants intervention, unwanted advances and touching, invasion of personal space in a sexual manner, deliberate intimidation, and unwelcomed sexual advances. In addition, harassment includes unwanted verbal, physical, cyber, or social aggressive behavior. The action of our members and guests will be closely monitored and if an incident of harassment is reported the event staff, volunteers, or MAKC representatives will (may) take corrective action against any offenders at the time of the incident, ranging from verbal warnings to expulsion from the area and/or event and a referral of the offender to the MAKC Board for consideration of expulsion from the MAKC.
If you are being harassed or witness another person being harassed, please contact a security staff member immediately. We will be happy to assist you and provide protection for our members and attendees. We value all our members and attendees that come to caving events and want to ensure that your safety and well-being is a top priority.