Best Beat

Setting the Rhythm for Your Music

Mile 5 of the Pettyjohn Cave Survey

Mile 5 of the Pettyjohn Cave Survey

Most of the fifth mile took place in The Labyrinth, a maze of stream passages. Surface water drains in from Screech Owl Cave and other holes east of the entrance to Pettyjohn Cave. I have been in Screech Owl Cave but not to the end. It is a very small and tight cave. We have also made attempts to dig out other deep holes in the area that possibly also drain into Pettyjohn.

Most of the Outer Limits are included in this mile. The Outer Limits is a fitting name for this far- flung section of the cave. After about three hours of hard caving, you reach the really tough stuff.

The Pulverizer Squeeze allows you to climb and squeeze down into the Sleazy Passage and Tobacco Road. Just before Tobacco Road you turn north toward the Outer Limits. At The Slit you have the choice of dropping down, if you have a rope, to the stream level or stay high for about three hundred feet. Three passages at the end trend north west to south east with the longest about 200 feet.

August 22, 1970 – Richard Schreiber, Ted Wilson and Steve Wells went out to the end of Tobacco Road and picked up the survey at station W80A. After mapping about a hundred feet they went out to the Outer Limits and surveyed to the 4 Mile Mark. They surveyed up the stream almost to the end of the passage. The survey resulted in 589.87 feet T.H.C. Total survey now 21,450.15 feet.

September 12, 1970 – Richard Schreiber, John Eastburn and Allen Padgett made a surface survey from the entrance of Pettyjohn Cave to Screech Owl Cave some 325 feet to the east. Screech Owl Cave was probably first found during the spring of 1970, by Ed Renner of the Florida State Cave Club. On September 16, Screech Owl Cave was dug open and the survey begun by Marion O. Smith, Cricket Haygood, Jon Resager and Dan Dougherty Jr.

September 26, 1970 – Richard Schreiber and John Eastburn surveyed the north end of the Outer Limits. While Ted Wilson and Bill Steele surveyed The stream passage from station W112 of the May 14, 1970 survey. The combined surveys resulted in 1,497.29 feet T.H.C. Total survey now 22,947.47 feet.

October 10, 1970 – George Morris, Allen Padgett, Marion O. Smith and Doug Strait deepened Screech Owl Cave by digging and continued the survey. And on October 20, 1970, Richard Schreiber, Marion and Jim Young completed the survey of Screech Owl Cave at 325.9 feet long and 107.1 feet deep. Chuck Horton did the chimney but did not survey because of the lack of room!

October 20, 1970 – Richard Schreiber and Chuck Horton first mapped a short passage just above the stream level near the Chute or Luge. They then went down stream to the main stream and up to the Water Fall, where they mapped the Squirrel Room above the water fall. Returning to the junction of the two streams, they surveyed down stream to connect to station P135. Next they started a survey up the small stream passage in the direction of Screech Owl Cave. At the bottom of the 30-foot mud climb down they picked up station P77 and started mapping the upper-level stream passage. The survey resulted in 824.96 feet T.H.C. Total survey now 23,772.43 feet.

November 1, 1970 – Richard Schreiber and Allen Padgett resumed the survey in the upper-level stream passage and surveyed another 259.85 feet T.H.C. Total survey now 24,032.28 feet.

November 2, 1970 – Richard Schreiber, Allen Padgett, Don Hunter and Barry Prince resumed the survey in the JVC Room. On a rock in the middle of this room is a marker JVC 1964. I presume that is when this room was discovered. The lower stream passage (Porpoise Passage), was surveyed down stream toward the mud climb down. From the JVC mark they went down three feet under a ledge to enter The Labyrinth. This is a maze section that is south of and below Screech Owl Cave. The survey resulted in 872.72 feet T.H.C. Total survey now 24,905.00 feet.

June 21,1971 – After nine months of no surveying, Richard Schreiber, Rod Price, John Eastburn and David Teal returned to The Labyrinth for more surveying. The survey resulted in 675.03 feet T.H.C. Total survey now 25,580.03 feet.

December 7, 1973 – Two years later Richard Schreiber and Allen Padgett return again to The Labyrinth and mapped 803.77 feet T.H.C. Total survey now was 26,383.80 feet, only 12.89 feet short of the 5 Mile Mark.

February 22, 1974 – Two months later Richard Schreiber and Allen Padgett surveyed again in The Labyrinth and on the first survey shot of 32 feet they surpassed the 5 Mile Mark. However, they were not aware of it due to the calculation errors in the survey books.

Survey trips have really started to slow, with three more survey trips in 1974 for a total of only four. There was one more survey in 1981, then four more in 1983 and the last recorded survey by Richard Schreiber in 1985.

After 15 years of caving in Pettyjohn Cave I started re-mapping the parts that we had visited, unaware of the work done by Schreiber. In 1987 we made our first survey trip and began to record the previous survey station marks and would follow these with our own survey when possible.

The raw survey data for the fifth mile is available in PDF format on my caving web site.