Show Farm Cave

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Show Farm Cave

Postby l lambert » Jan 26, 2009 2:44 pm

I've been reading about the 1967 Mossdale Caverns deaths and was trying to remember when the deaths occured at Show Farm Cave in the US. I can't find anything on the net. Any of you old timers remember? 1961? Thanks for your help. Leo
Last edited by l lambert on Jan 27, 2009 1:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Show Farm Cave

Postby wyandottecaver » Jan 26, 2009 7:27 pm

I *think* it was 62 but I am not an old-timer.....
I'm not scared of the dark, it's the things IN the dark that make me nervous. :)
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Re: Show Farm Cave

Postby Billy » Jan 26, 2009 9:19 pm

They went in June 16, 1961 according to Halliday's "Depth of the Earth". The book gives a fairly in-depth anecdotal history.
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Re: Show Farm Cave

Postby l lambert » Jan 26, 2009 11:31 pm

Billy, thanks for the reference. Leo
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Re: Show Farm Cave

Postby blindfish » Feb 15, 2009 7:08 pm

The 16th of June (a Sunday) was a clear sunny day when the two cavers entered Showfarm Cave. They even left two, less experienced cavers on the surface with instructions to come to them or go for help if it started to rain. The rains came in buckets - probably did not rain outside of a 5 mile radius from the cave. The entrance was higher than most of the cave and took water in quickly - notifying them or getting help was out of the question. The water rose to several feet above the entrance and went down quite slowly. The rescue team did not reach the bodies until Wednesday.

The major reason that the event gained so much press was that it occurred just a few miles from Mitchell, Indiana, the home of Virgil (Gus) Grissom, who had been scheduled for a Gemini flight that weekend. The flight had been postponed and the large contengent of press who were in the area waiting for the flight went to cover the cave event during their wait. Many of the press members present tended to put their spin on a lot of the events.

The cave location was not easily accessable by vehicles due to the very muddy conditions, making things more difficult for the rescuers. Press access was provided by the Indiana State Police helicopter for the most part.

Sorry that my memory of events is not better - it has been almost 50 years and my written notes are in storage back in Indiana.
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Re: Show Farm Cave

Postby birky » Aug 14, 2011 2:50 pm

The last entry has it almost right. There were three experienced cavers, not two: me, Tom Arnold, and Rick Moreland (who was my brother-in-law). Tom brought a high school student with no prior experience. We split into two pairs to check out two possible entrances to caves before meeting at Show Farm Cave. The high schooler and I finished our very short cave first, then explored Show Farm through walking passage to a crawlway. We returned to the surface and met Tom and Rick, who wanted to see it for themselves. The high schooler remained at the entrance to meet them on the way out while I hiked back to the car to change clothes. Then the rain came and the student came to tell me the stream was rising at the entrance. I went back to the cave and entered during a lull in the rain; the entrance was about 5 feet high and had over 3 feet of water, then it opened up to stream passage averaging about 15 feet high. I hiked downstream for several hundred yards, past a deep section partially dammed by debris, until the water was up to my chest behind a second dam. It was clearly too dangerous to pass the second dam and in fact too dangerous to remain in the cave longer as the water was rising slowly, so I left. I knew that Tom and Rick were probably trapped beyond the crawlway so I initiated the rescue operations by calling several other Bloomington cavers, who called others and so on. I also notified the police and Tom's and Rick's families.

Dick Powell and I and a few other experienced cavers coordinated the rescue efforts and worked with the police, who had little knowledge or experience for this kind of thing.

I didn't realize that one of the astronauts was from a nearby town and so didn't connect the onslaught of press to that event until I read the posting. Incidentally, the press got in the way and behaved very badly: the Red Cross brought food and drinks for the rescuers but the press descended on the food like locusts and left very little for us. I didn't know the police were helicoptering the press to the cave. They did transport cavers between the farmhouse where the owner's (the Shauls) kindly let me and some others rest.

The cave flooded completely, as the post said. Police divers attempted to enter but could not go far. The 10-20 cavers made repeated trips into the cave in groups of three after the water receded and the crawlway was passable. We laid phone line into the cave so that cavers could be notified if more rain was on the way. I and two others took the line into a section where the water was chest-deep which chilled us so we had to leave the cave. We were fortunate; the next group discovered the bodies.
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Re: Show Farm Cave

Postby Billy » Dec 28, 2011 9:05 pm

Was going to add one more item to this subject, as I have come into an old blue (the old ether copy style) copy of "The Speleo Epitaph (not named for this event)" dated July 19, 1961. It is dated Wednesday, July 19, 1961. It starts out by saying that at 1am the bodies of Ralph Moreland and Tom Arnold had been found. It repeats the name "Ralph" again. So I'm not sure if this is "Rick" and they butchered the name? It gives quite a bit of anecdotal story -and quite a bit of finger pointing also. I don't think it will scan well, but plan on eventually getting this to Keith at the Indiana Karst Conservancy.
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Re: Show Farm Cave

Postby KENTO » Jan 14, 2012 9:44 pm

This has been a wonderful read. I have always looked up to Dick Powell as a mentor , he's always been a generous one to share his experiences and inspire new exploration. I remember not long after my high school years going into Wright Saltpeter Cave , Monroe co. IN , to seek the Tom Arnold Room. Back in the 1940's and 50's it was fairly routine that if you discovered an obscure extension or part of a cave you would smoke your name and your NSS#____ on the wall with your carbide caplamp. So , after two attempts , we found the " Tom Arnold " room...there on the wall it says Tom Arnold and...Ralph Moreland. So , I am wondering was this a case of someone using their first name in formal instances, going by the middle name informally with family and friends? The Caves of Indiana publication by Dick Powell was issued with a dedication in memory of Tom Arnold and Ralph Moreland on the title page inside of the cover.
I would like to add that the " high schooler " lacking in experience...went on to a continuing life chockfull of experiences underground. I am speaking of none other than " Dr. Norman Pace " of Edinburg Indiana who has a rather impressive resume of cave research and expeditionary research under his belt these days. He has told me of his memory of this day at Showfarm Cave before. He and Mr. "Birky" had just finished the easy front part of the cave, came out to stable weather initially , Norm was waiting by the entrance , felt the first raindrop hit his cheek, looked up at evil dark clouds rolling in above the rim of the sinkhole. He described just a horrendous rainstorm engulfing the entrance area within about 10 minutes time. I felt the hair on my neck stand up the first time he told me this.
Sometimes when your number is up, it really is, in capitals...this was one of those times.
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Re: Show Farm Cave

Postby NorthCentr8L3 » Jul 9, 2018 2:47 pm

I was part of the recovery team. I came down from Indianapolis with some caver friends. I was in high school at the time, a member of the Central Indiana Grotto. Other, older individuals went in first and placed the victims in body bags. I went in later to relieve the first team and to help pull and carry out one body-Tom's. The bag was sealed so we did not see the victim. The phrase "dead weight" took on new meaning. The victims were scouting caves for a tour/guide book to be given out at a Cave Convention later that year.
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