By Dave Socky
In the mid-60s Maxwelton Sink Cave was dug open and then explored and surveyed by the Pittsburgh, Boston, and Philly Grottos of the NSS. The entrance was notorious for silting shut, so the whole 10 miles of cave was surveyed in just a few years before it was totally silted shut from Hurricane Camille in 1969. Maxwelton Sink Cave, in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, is a large contact cave and belongs to the group that includes such caves as McClungs (which it is now connected to), The Hole, Ludingtons, and Culverson Creek.
A new entrance was dug open and the resurvey of Maxwelton Sink Cave commenced in February 2004. In the early stages of the project, most of the work being done was resurvey, but as the map began to fill out, it became obvious that there was a lot of potential for new cave. It wasn’t until later in the project that more and more new passage was found. In addition to the large extension of Sweetwater, there were a number of finds in such places as Thunder Dome, Consent Canyon, and Classic Canyon. Plus, there were numerous other small extensions that added to the overall length of the cave. Over 4 miles of new cave have been added to the “historic” section of Maxwelton Sink Cave, plus 10 miles have been added via the Sweetwater extension, which makes Maxwelton Sink Cave 24.1 miles long. Of course, Maxwelton Sink Cave is now just a part of the Great Savannah Cave System, which is 42.3 miles long. But better yet, in addition to the Sweetwater extension, the classic section Maxwelton Sink cave is still growing—new cave is being found. Who knows what the future will bring?
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.