Letter to the Editor

Spelunking in Southwest Nebraska

Monday, February 27, 2006
Cave No. 9, discovered by Bill Donze.

Dear Editor,

As the weather warms and the old guy walks the canyons of south west Nebraska. (As) I hunt out-of-the-way garden spots, I have stumbled onto a number of caves.

This cave got me banged up good as I am too old to enjoy enjoy sliding down a steep cliff, but a second try got me there, West of McCook.

This picture is of Cave 9, found last Saturday. It is 20 feet deep and 25 feet wide and just under 5 feet tall. It has man-made fire pits that have been used from before time was kept, as the Dismal people turned into tribes we now know of.

The Apache also used such sights being driven from the south by the Spanish. In fact, the first reports of contact by whites of this area was of Apache living totally in the stone age and caves eating meat raw rather than to risk being found by other tribes if they had smoke fire.

Land owners demand I keep the secret of the caves, as they do not want the public to find or abuse them. A friend found under a cave floor, a rotted leather pouch full of maize (corn) and broken pottery that could fill a barn but it is best just to leave it as it lay and take pictures.

Some caves also housed criminals of old as some have copper tubing from the moonshine days of the Roaring Twenties.

I always watch for rattlers as they enjoy such places and the powdery dirt floor hide them like land mines. It shakes one to the quick when seeing fresh mountain lion track on the floor also.

I have yet to find a barn- size cave, but have found some rock formations with names and dates going back to the 1870s. There are many reasons to know where caves are.

One reason is, your children and grandchildren may have to live in them.

Bill Donze


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