By Dave Socky
The Cave Hollow-Arbogast Cave system is a roughly 5-mile cave in Tucker County, West Virginia. The system was known to locals for many years and was visited frequently by organized cavers starting in the 1960s. A rather slow-moving survey project was gaining momentum in the late 1970s and early 1980s when access to the cave was halted by the U.S. Forest Service. Since 2007 Dave West has been working with the Forest Service to get approval for the Cave Research Foundation (CRF) to produce an accurate and detailed map of the cave. Finally, in 2017, approval was obtained, and the new survey of Cave Hollow-Arbogast began. This is a CRF project, but it is open to any serious caver who wishes to participate in this resurvey project, as long as the rules worked out between the CRF and the Forest Service are followed.
Since 2017 there have been about seven to eight trips a year. The goal has been for monthly trips, but ice, snow, and flooding have canceled a number of trips. So far, the project has resurveyed a little over half of the cave and stands now at 3.4 miles. When the project started, the cave trips were pretty easy, surveying nice large trunk passages and breakdown rooms. However, most of the easy cave has been done, and we are now focusing on some of the more challenging sections. There are a number of water crawls that need to be done, and there are sections of the cave where “small persons” are required. But it’s not all hard. There is still some nice passage that needs to be done, but it’s just not within 10 minutes of the entrance. There is still a couple of years’ worth of work left to do.
David Socky is a retired (since 2013) software systems engineer with General Electric at Salem, Virginia, and owner of Hodag Video Productions. He holds two Bachelor degrees, one in Business Administration/Management from Ohio University and one in Electrical Engineering (EE) from Cleveland State University, as well as a Master’s degree in EE from Virginia Tech.
Dave started caving in 1974 and has surveyed and explored countless numbers of caves since, including Hellhole in West Virginia and Omega in Virginia, and is currently engaged in several survey and exploration projects including the Great Savannah Cave System (Maxwelton and McClungs), Windy Mouth, and Cave Hollow-Arbogast.
He is responsible for the production of many videos on caving and mountain climbing, including a number of popular caving music videos. Dave is a Life Member and Fellow of the NSS. He is the Co-Chair of the NSS Awards Salon, Chair of the NSS AV Library, and Chair of the NSS Video Salon. In addition, Dave is Co-Editor of the Carbide Dump, the newsletter of the Blue Ridge Grotto; a board member of the West Virginia Association for Cave Studies (WVACS); board member and secretary of the Cave Conservancy of the Virginias (CCV); president of the Virginia Speleological Survey (VSS); and a member of the Cave Research Foundation (CRF).
But mostly, Dave is a project caver, caving once or twice a week in Virginia and West Virginia, or anywhere there is a good trip to be had.