By Bill Jones
After graduation from high school in Fairmont, West Virginia, Bill Jones and a buddy set out on a much-anticipated road trip. The boys enjoyed a stop at Seneca Rocks and noticed a place on their map with the curious name Sinks of Gandy. They decided to check it out. Bill was mesmerized by a hillside that simply swallowed up a big surface stream. Two weeks later the guys were back with carbide lamp and helmet, and Jones began his career as a cave explorer.
Perhaps spawned by previous sightseeing at the Sinks of Gandy, Bill Jones became pretty jazzed about underground water very early on. The routes that water apparently pursued on its mysterious journeys seemed curious, unknown, and worthy of investigation. And, Jones was just the man for the job. Work at the West Virginia Geological Survey was followed by employment at the United States Geological Survey. Along the way, Bill did many water-tracing experiments in both Greenbrier and Monroe counties.
In 1984, Bill Jones edited a special issue of the NSS Bulletin (now The Journal of Cave and Karst Studies) devoted to water tracing. This followed his prior publication of numerous scientific papers, plus the 1973 monograph entitled Hydrology of Limestone Karst in Greenbrier County, West Virginia.
Although he sometimes thinks of himself as more of a hydrologist than a speleologist, Bill is no stranger to caves and hard caving. He discovered Sinks of the Run Cave, mapped Taylor Falls Cave, worked in Culverson Creek Cave and in Friars Hole Cave, and helped Bill Douty survey Bransford Cave. Along the way, Jones was a key player in three separate rescues in the wet, the vertical, and the dangerous place named Cass Cave.
As a proud West Virginian, Bill Jones believes that caving in his home state provides a classic feel in the birthplace of organized caving in America. The caves are great, the sinkhole plains are very much like those in Slovenia, and the scenery is unforgettable.