Gate Repaired Sept. 2002
During the mad two day rush to build the gate, the welders apparently missed
one bar on the smaller side gate. It was so tightly wedged in place that no one
noticed that it had not been welded. They also forgot to weld the pin that anchors
the smaller gate to the ceiling. Local vandals quickly discovered the flaw,
and were able to remove the bar to gain access to the cave. Fortunately, they never
got the notion to actually steal the bar, and were nice enough to put it back after
they were done. Once inside, they were able to remove the lock from the gate. The route
into the main sections of the cave from the smaller gate forced the vandals through a
squeeze past a nice column, sliming it. We decided that it was not worth the damage to
the formations to keep the gate locked, and left the gate open until repairs could be
The 2002 Fall Mid-Atlantic Region (MAR) meeting was held close to the cave at the
Lazy-A Campground in Glengary, WV over the September 21-22 weekend. Since Silers is
a very popular destination during regional meetings, we organized a repair trip for
that weekend, and asked the MAR cavers going to and from the cave to help haul supplies
and equipment. Mike Eppley of Sligo Grotto was kind enough to supply the generator and
welder. A small crew of Mike, Craig Hindman, Meredith Hall Johnson, John Pearson and
Jim McConkey spent the day repairing the gate.
In addition to welding the loose parts, we took some of the scrap left over from the
first gating trip and reinforced the gate. We found a torn piece of some poor vandal's
underwear on the gate, so we intentionally installed some more steel scraps as "shredders"
and hung the underwear scrap on them as a warning to future would-be vandals.
There is a small crawlway less that a foot high near the smaller gate that probably
connects into the cave, although we are not aware of anyone having made the connection.
We even borrowed a small teenager from the visiting groups to check it out. While this
is not currently a way around the gates, we decided not to let it become one. We brought
over 600 lbs of extra-strength concrete and plenty of rebar with us. With great difficulty
we maneuvered the bags into place, sliced them open, and used the rebar to connect the
bags and anchor them into the walls. We then put on as much water was we could. The
damp cave environment will do the rest. Finally, we covered the new wall with rocks
to make it a little more cave-like.
Besides fixing the gate and crawlway, we removed the original gate to the cave, a manacle surely
inspired by medieval torture devices. It used to swing across the bottom of the entrance
barrel, but in recent years it has only snagged knees and other sensitive body parts.
The gate has a long and illustrious history, so we tried to donate it to Craig to
put in the NSS Museum, but he insisted that Sligo keep it instead.
The following are some of the first pictures from the project. All photos
by Jim McConkey. (Click on each thumbnail for a full-sized picture.)
|Mike was kind enough to supply his generator and welder for the project.
|A small frog decided join the fun. We assisted him back outside so he didn't get smushed.
|Craig inspects the gate and finds part of a vandal's panties. The crooked bar was never welded.
|Craig repairs and enhances the gate.
|Some extra pieces are added to the gate.
|The old manacle gate is removed.
|John and Meredith work in tight quarters to block a small side passage.
|Meredith inspects the final block side lead.
Please give a virtual round of applause to Meredith, John, Mike, Craig and Jim for
all their continuing efforts to make cave vandal's lives miserable, and to all
the MAR cavers who helped haul equipment and supplies for us!
If you would like to volunteer for future repairs and cleanups at Silers, please contact