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This site is currently under construction.
Here is some information on the bat cave for your enjoyment.

Thank You!

THE BAT CAVE
1972

IN THE FALL OF 1972 JOHN GAUTHIER AND MYSELF STOOD LOOKING INTO AN ABYSS THAT WE HAD BEEN TOLD WAS A BOTTOMLESS MINE SHAFT. WE HAD WAITED FOR THIS EVENT FOR SEVERAL MONTHS AND WERE NOW READY TO DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS. ARMED WITH 200 FEET OF MANILLA HEMP ROPE AND SEVERAL OLD FLASHLIGHTS WE STRAPPED MOTORCYCLE HELMETS ON AND DECIDED TO DESCEND INTO THE DARK SHAFT. TYING THE ROPE TO AN OLD FENCE POST WE THREW THE COIL DOWN THE SHAFT AND LISTENED TO THE ROCKS FALLING AS THE ROPE WENT DOWN. WE DIDN'T EVEN HEAR THEM HIT BOTTOM! GRABBING THE ROPE WE STEPPED OVER THE CHASM AND LOOKED INTO THE BLACKNESS. THE DEPTH SWALLOWED OUR DIM LIGHTS AND MADE THE SHAFT TRULY APPEAR TO BE WITHOUT BOTTOM. GOING HAND OVER HAND SLOWLY ON THE CREAKING ROPE WE MADE OUR WAY DOWN THE SHAFT. COMING TO A LANDING ABOUT 100 FEET DOWN WE RESTED AND LOOKED AROUND WITH THE DIM LIGHTS WE HAD. WE HEARD A HISSING NOISE AND KNEW THAT IT WAS NOT GOOD. WE KNEW IT MEANT BATS! WE HAD BEEN IN MINES THAT HAD BATS BEFORE, BUT NEVER HAD HEARD SUCH LOUD HISSES. CRINGING, WE LOOKED UP AT THE CEILING AND SAW THAT IT WAS A MASS OF GREY FLESH THAT WAS MOVING AND GROWING MORE AGITATED WITH EACH PASSING MINUTE. TERRIFIED AND FEARING THAT THE BATS WERE ABOUT TO ATTACK, WE CLIMBED BACK UP THE ROPE IN RECORD TIME. WE DIDN'T STOP UNTIL WE HAD REGAINED THE SURFACE. WE QUICKLY UNTIED OUR ROPE FROM THE FENCE AND RAN EVEN FURTHER, THINKING THE BATS STILL MAY ATTACK. THEY NEVER DID!

THE BAT CAVE
1993

ORIGINALLY DISCOVERED IN 1972 BY LOCAL CAVERS JOHN GAUTHIER AND STEVE SMITH, THE CAVE WAS ONLY VISITED SEVERAL TIMES SINCE THEN. WHEN THE CAVE WAS IN DANGER OF BEING FILLED IN 1993, STEVE SMITH CONTACTED BAT CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL AND ASKED FOR HELP. REALIZING THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SITUATION, BCI FOUNDER, MERLIN TUTTLE CONTACTED BOB DOEPKER OF THE DEPT. OF NATURAL RESOURCES. BOB CONTACTED THE CITY OF IRON MOUNTAIN AND ADVISED THEM THAT DR. TUTTLE FELT THE CAVE WAS A VALUABLE BAT HIBERNACULUM FOR LITTLE BROWN AND LARGE BROWN BATS. COORDINATING WITH DR. TUTTLE AND BOB DOEPKER, THE COUNTY LIBRARY WAS ABLE TO PRESENT A PUBLIC INFORMATION LECTURE. SEVERAL HUNDRED PEOPLE BRAVED FOUL WEATHER AND COLD FEBRUARY TEMPERATURES TO SEE MERLIN. IT WAS GREAT TO SEE SO MUCH SUPPORT FOR OUR SOON TO BE PROJECT. MUCH PRELIMINARY WORK HAD TO BE PERFORMED EARLY ON, SUCH AS LEGAL PERMISSION FROM THE CITY TO ENTER THE MINE SHAFT FOR MEASUREMENTS, STABILITY TESTS, AND OVERALL PLANNING. WORK PROGRESSED SLOWLY UNTIL AUGUST OF 1993, THEN ALL OF THE PREPARATION PAYED OFF. ALL OF THE WORK IN THE MOUTH OF THE SHAFT HAD BEEN DONE BY HAND TO PREVENT DAMAGE TO THE ENTRANCE. NEXT AN 8 FOOT CULVERT WAS LOWERED, LEVELED AND BACKFILLED. THEN A CEMENT FOOTING WAS FORMED AND POURED. THEN THE STEEL CAGE WAS LOWERED ONTO THE CEMENT FOOTING AND BOLTED DOWN. THE CAGE PREVENTS HUMANS FROM ENTERING OR FALLING IN. SAFETY WAS ALWAYS A CONCERN IN PRESERVING THE BAT CAVE. THE ABANDONED MINE REACHES A DEPTH OF APPROXIMATELY 300 FEET. IF YOU LOOK DOWN TO THE WATER LEVEL OF NEARBY CHAPIN PIT YOU WILL SEE THE WATER LEVEL AT THE BOTTOM OF THE CAVE. THE MILLIE MINE, CONSTRUCTED BACK IN THE LATE 1800S WAS AN IRON MINE THAT PRODUCED THOUSANDS OF TONS OF ORE DURING THE BOOM TIMES OF IRON. AFTER THE EXPENSE OF MINING SURPASSED THE VALUE OF THE ORE, THE MINE WAS ABANDONED BY MAN ONLY TO BE ADOPTED BY OUR BAT FRIENDS. PROBABLY THE ULTIMATE RECYCLING PROJECT. PLEASE DO NOT THROW OBJECTS INTO THE SHAFT. THE ENVIRONMENT OF THE CAVE IS FRAGILE AND MUST BE PROTECTED. THE BAT CAVE CONTAINS APPROXIMATELY 50,000 TO 250,000 BATS DURING THE WINTER MONTHS AND ONLY SEVERAL DOZEN IN THE SUMMER.

STEVE SMITH
© 1995 S.M. SMITH CO.


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