Arboretum Cave At Penn State

On Saturday, August 28, 2021, MAKC went to Penn State. Ann Dunlavy, who owns Lincoln Caverns and Whisper Rocks, was having a cave day and members of Nittany Grotto, the Lincoln Staff, and some other groups were on hand for a hot day. The Nittany Grotto had brought a squeezebox, a great idea. Our site was the artificial cave at the arboretum.

Attending were Tom and Kim Metzgar and Careen Shafer. We also saw members Paul Winter and Eric Pelkey with a Nittany Grotto display, along with several other cavers.

Tom and Kim had brought copies of the Lincoln Caverns map that Kim had done a few years back and gave a demonstration on cave mapping. They had both compasses and clinometers and the more modern Disto survey instruments, as well as an old fiberglass tape to show people how it was done in the “old days.” People could look through the compasses.

During the lulls between visitors, they thought they might as well “map” the cave.

The dimensions inside were 29 by 39 feet. There are four entrances, two traversible by humans, one a skylight and another a crack too tight for most adult humans. There were two places that were bat roots (artificial), a giant flowstone column in the center, several stalactites, a very tall stalagmite, and flowstone (artificial) on the walls in several places. In order to make the cave similar to a typical Pennsylvania limestone cave, the entrance portrayed some very nice crossbedding.

However, for obvious reasons, there was not any real Pennsylvania cave mud. There was, however, a small drip pool near the column that all the kids who entered gravitated to almost immediately. And some of the tiny soda straw speleothems were actually real, slowly growing—already an inch or so—from calcium carbonate leaching out from the concrete ceiling. In a few years they will be even longer, and then there will be some real “don’t break the formations” cautions.

Kim’s friends, Donna and Dan Gerhart from Latrobe, were visiting their daughter Kate and granddaughter Molly in State College, so they stopped by the table and chatted for a bit.

Careen Shafer stopped by to visit as well. While she was chatting with Tom, Kim ran to the restroom and on the way back a tall, athletic man decked out in Penn State gear passed Kim and said “nice shirt.” He had only seen the back of the rat’s ass t-shirt. But she knew who it was. He took the long loop and she took the short loop and quickly got back to Tom and Careen at the Arboretum Cave entrance.

“Quick,” Kim said. “James Franklin is coming through the cave. Let’s get a picture of him in the cave.”

“Who?” they said in unison.

“The Penn State football coach!”

Since neither of them knew who it was, Careen offered to take Kim’s picture with him, which he graciously did after checking to see if Kim was vaccinated. Fortunately, she was.

Once  packed up, Tom, Careen and Kim stopped at the nearby Creamery for a treat before we headed our respective ways. It was a fun event.

The general protocol is not to publish cave maps online to protect the cave, but since this is a pseudo cave in a public space, it gives us a chance to publish it.