Indiana's Binkley Cave system now more than 40 miles long

Indiana's Binkley Cave system now more than 40 miles long

The new passage was named the “McLain River” in honor of caver, Tim McLain , who died of a heart attack in another part of the cave last year.

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by Amy Stallings and news release

WHAS11.com

Posted on July 21, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Updated Monday, Jul 21 at 11:14 AM

CORYDON, Ind. (WHAS11) -- Indiana's longest cave system has grown even longer after a new Indiana Speleological Survey

The Binkley Cave system in Corydon is now more than 7,700 feet longer. 11 cave explorers completed the survey of the systems July 13.

The following is a new release about the survey:

All of the new survey was in a large “borehole” passage that no human had ever set foot in until now. The new passage was named the “McLain River” in honor of ISS caver, Tim McLain, who died of a heart attack in another part of the cave last year. Cavers followed a booming passage teeming with cavefish and crayfish onward through two large rooms to the rise of the McLain River – a beautiful blue pool. Here the river flows up and out of a water-filled conduit that will require high specialized caving diving to continue exploration in this direction.

The weary cavers reported seeing several large side passages that were not explored. In addition, the downstream portion of McLain’s River has barely been entered.   Team members all agreed that there is much more cave to be discovered and surveyed in this portion of the Binkley Cave system.

Binkley Cave has been growing rapidly since long time ISS caver Gary Roberson published a history of the cave’s exploration  Fifty Years Under the Sinkhole Plain in 2009.  At the time of publication, Binkley Cave was just over 22 miles in length. It has almost doubled over the past five years.  Major breakthroughs and breathtaking discoveries have come almost one after the other over this five-year span.

One of these new discoveries was the Indiana Caverns section found in the fall of 2010.  Indiana Caverns, which features ice age bones, a 35-foot waterfall, and an underground boat ride, opened to the public in June 2013 giving non-cavers their first glimpse of the underground cavern hidden below Harrison County's sinkhole plain while dressed in street clothes.

Rand Heazlitt, long time ISS member and part of the Indiana Caverns development team pushed a 1700-foot long water crawl on his first caving trip after completion of the cavern development project to discover the path leading to this vast new section known as the Wild Wild West. With this discovery, the cave broke out into a huge new area of the sinkhole (karst) plain south of Corydon.

The discoveries of the past year indicate that over time the Binkley Cave system has the potential to possibly grow to over 100 miles in length and become one the truly great caves of the world. The cave system is currently the longest in Indiana, the 9th longest in the US and the 40th longest in the world. The cavers said they need only about 200 feet of new survey to jump up into 8th place in the US. That undoubtedly will occur on their next trip.

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