By Lee J. Florea, Sarah Burgess, Chris Bauer, Brian Devine
A decade of intensive exploration in Wayne County, Kentucky, presented in US Exploration sessions of the National Speleological Society Conventions in 2015 and 2019, focused on what became the Sulphur Mountain System, comprising both Bowman’s Pit and Skert Well. At present, that system remains the longest cave in Wayne County at 8.6 miles on five levels expressive of the paleo-hydrology of Beaver Creek. The connection between those two caves is a vertical miasma of canyons and shafts, and cave of similar character encompasses many remaining leads.
The experiences in Sulphur Mountain provided suitable training for the new exploration focus in Edwards Mountain in the Otter Creek watershed to the south. At Edwards Mountain, the Sunnybrook Anticline, with an amplitude of 150 feet, enhances the potential depth of caves, and this anticline has produced the deepest pits in Kentucky. Petroleum seeps identified in streams and caves along this anticline suggest the potential for hypogene speleogenesis through the cycling of sulfur.
Spelungers Cave on Edwards Mountain was an entrance blasted into the Bangor Limestone in 2007 with shafts that lead to a current depth of 322 feet. Recent project invigoration has extended Spelungers to 2.8 miles, including significant upstream and downstream leads on multiple levels. Downstream, the suspected resurgence includes a nearby lead with massive air, the focus of digging and blasting. Upstream, along the anticline flank, a series of pits, all with significant airflow, are of keen interest and recent exploration. If connections are successful, the vertical potential is approximately 510 feet.