Buford Pruitt, Jr.
June 22, 2005
A week or so ago a friend called saying that she read about a lot for sale in newspaper classifieds that had the words, “cave on property.” She called me and, because it was in the Archer area and I knew that The Karst Conservancy was interested in acquiring such properties, I called Bill Walker. He set up a meeting with the seller but then had a conflict and asked me to meet the seller. Beth and I met the seller on site earlier today (June 22, 2005), and the landowner led me around the property where I obtained data on three karst features for the Florida Cave Survey.
The 8-acre property is quite karstic, and flanks the eastern side of the Newberry extension of Brooksville Ridge, in roughly the same geological setting as the Archer Caves that are further south. (Just because this site is adjacent to the town of Archer, doesn’t mean that it
is in the Archer Caves region, you see).
The first feature is a 30ft wide by 4ft deep convex sinkhole that appears inactive, but on one side of it is a recently opened shaft (1,5ft – 2ft wide) that drops down about 8ft and then
pinches off in the direction of the center of the sinkhole. The shaft is completely surfaced in marbled cream-and-red clay, as is the bottom of the shaft, without a trace of limestone evident. Presumably, over time the clay would wash off whatever rock is covered. This feature is within a recently cleared portion of the property, and may have opened up as a result of bulldozing operations.
The second karst feature is a genuine solution pipe approximately 4ft wide by 12ft deep, and is further back in the woods, beautiful woods, with parson’s-pulpit and other wildflowers, dense ferns around rock outcrops and karst features, and a species-rich mesic forest dominated by live oak and pignut hickory. I descended the solution pipe and found that it, too, was closed at the bottom. There were several 4-inch-high horizontal alcoves just above the bottom of the pipe that extended a short distances (3ft – 4ft) into the rock. One of these had a
woodrat (Neotoma floridana) nest
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just beyond the drip line.
The third karst feature is a long, winding sinkhole that is fairly large and extends off-site to the west. On the property, at the east edge of the sink, is a cavern entrance. I hesitate to call it a cave, because… The entrance is a very narrow crack in the rock that
I can squeeze into just far enough to see a closet-sized room that is
large enough to stand up in. At the north end of that room is a cantalope-sized opening in cobbles that might go if dug or pushed. The crack was almost big enough for me to get through; possibly, smaller cavers can pass the entrance restriction. This entrance is a crack in bedrock above and below, so some bang would be needed to make it large enough for most cavers. Incidentally, there was another woodrat nest at this entrance.
I believe the landowner would be willing to allow smaller cavers to try pushing the third feature, and suspect he would also be willing to allow some minor explosives used to gain entry. If anyone is interested in either, contact me and I will set it up for you.
Evidently, Bill struck a chord in conversation with the landowner regarding conservation easements. The landowner had been approached by a developer who wanted to carve out 16 lots on this 8-acre parcel, but the owner was having nothing doing with that plan. He wanted very low density residential out there; i.e., a single residence on the lot. Thus, he is very interested in placing some sort of easement over the land to keep it from being cleared or subdivided. Cavers ARE making a difference! Keep up the good work, Bill.