I grew up in southern Indiana. I’m definitely a country girl at heart (this by no means includes country music), although I’ve become used to what you could call “city life,” since I’ve lived in Louisville for the last ten years.
Besides seeing my family more often, the only thing I miss about living in the country is being surrounded by nature. I miss being able to see the stars at night, fields of grass (not just patches), creeks that are clean enough to swim in, climbing trees, walking in the woods, and caves. When most of you think of nature, caves may be the farthest thing from your mind. There is definitely a reason that I do think of caves.
Since the first time my Dad went into a cave as a Boy Scout when he was 11 years old, his passion in life has been caving. He’s the type of person you’re sort of jealous of because they found a hobby that they were able to turn into a career, and then make all their dreams come true.
Soon after my Dad graduated from Vanderbilt University, he and a few of his friends were hired to develop (entailing, digging, blasting, and building trails inside a cave so it can be opened for public tours) Squire Boone Caverns. This took the team three years of slogging through the mud on weekends and resulted in a great opportunity for my Dad.
A few months after they finished the project in 1973, he became a part owner and general manager of Marengo Cave. This is where I spent most of my childhood. I ran around in the woods, went horseback riding, and followed cave tours until I was old enough to be a tour guide myself. It was an awesome way to grow up. I was a lucky kid, plus having the experience of working in public relations at such a young age was a great asset for my future.
The cave and above ground property were completely redeveloped in the 27 years my family owned it. Unfortunately my Dad’s vision for Marengo began to diverge from his partner’s over the years, and my Mom and Dad made the decision to sell their half in 2001.
Our story doesn’t end here though. This past June my Dad was able to complete his dream of developing a third cave from the ground up. My Dad began surveying in Binkley’s Cave with his buddies back in the late 60’s, and after almost 50 years, a section of this cave is finally open to the public. Development was a rough year of grueling 12 hour days for my Dad and his crew. I was eternally glad to see the project completed. You know there are always a few hiccups with an undertaking this large. Apparently developing a cave at the age of 66 is a little different from when you are in your early 20’s. You think?!
When Indiana Caverns opened June 15, 2013, it was the 11th largest cave in the United States. Exploration of new passages has been ongoing, and a few weeks ago, Indiana Caverns moved up to the 9th longest cave in the U.S.
We can all learn about true passion and commitment from my Dad. If you want to check out his dream come true, Indiana Caverns is located about 35 minutes from Louisville in Corydon, Indiana.