By Buford Pruitt
Nov. 13, 2004 – 80-acre tract. Peggy Young reported that the landowner had mellowed a lot since the October field trip, so she, James Brown, Rick Reynolds, James Morris, and Buford Pruitt went back to the landowner’s third tract. The tract is a pasture grazed by water buffalo. The purposes of today’s trip were to see if any caves could be found and if there were any sinkholes that needed trash cleaned out.
This tract is mostly open pasture with occasional scattered trees and clumps of trees, a fringe of trees along its south side, and a 500 – 1000ft band of trees along its north side. Many of the isolated trees and tree clumps in the field mark the locations of sinkholes. Coming toward the tract from the south, on DEP land (Goethe Tract), is a karst slough that heads NNE from a small pond (doline) centered appx ¼ mile south of the tract’s south property line. Much of the east half of the property is a 70ft “plateau.”
There are two obvious lineaments of sinkholes stretching from the south to the north property lines, both in gentle west-facing concave curves that are sub-parallel. The easterly lineament extends from the northern tip of the off-site karst slough. Both lineaments pass through the “plateau,” so
possibly there are caves associated with one or both of the lineaments.
We excavated rocks and water buffalo bones from three of the most promising sinkholes, two that were in the east lineament and the third in the west lineament. All three excavations revealed fissures that narrowed in cross-section down to widths of only a few inches, none of which appeared
passable by cavers without dynamite enlargement, and even then it does not appear that any of the fissures lead to cave passage.
One small sink a few feet away from the east property fence line near the middle of the field is filled with railroad ties and fence posts, on top of which is a rusted steel trailer. The trailer is heavy, so any attempt to remove the trash would first require the trailer be hauled off. Peggy said she knows someone who might come get it, and I asked her to see if she could get that done. Even with the trash removed, I doubt this is an active sinkhole because it appears to have a shallow, concave cross-section.
There is one scenic sinkhole appx 75ft in diameter and 15ft+ deep that has a rock face on its west side, at the base of which is a potential dig. This will require a half-dozen or so people and serious effort, and I doubt it would be a productive endeavor.
One interesting thing: I saw a hollow tree with a large
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hole at its base, and wondered if there might be any bats roosting in it for the day, so I lay on my back and stuck my head in the cavity and shined a flashlight up into it. There were no bats, but in the very top of the cavity, about 5ft above
my head, was a baby corn snake (Elaphe guttata guttata). Cool! On the way back to James’ house after the day’s wanderings were completed, an indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi) was seen crossing the sandhill dirt road on Peggy’s land. Rick and I weren’t present, unfortunately. Jimmy said that it had two small orange spots on its chin. Usually the orange “phase” indigo has an orange chin, not just spots. Cool!