Altamont Enterprise October 19, 1934

From Helderberg Hilltowns of Albany County, NY
Go to Knox Cave Early articles 1933 - 1960

Robinson Writes About Capital District Caves

By D. C. Robinson

The oldest developed cavern in New York State is Howe's Cave which was discovered by Lester Howe In 1842, opened to the public in 1845 and operated by various people until the Helderburgh Cement Company quarry ruined the lower end by blasting too close to it, about 1910.

The old development was 4411 ft long to the Winding Way which is 339 ft long according to the State Underground Water Survey made in 1906.

A dam was built 2,321 feet from entrance to create a reservoir to supply water for the original Hotel. This part of the cave is now the property of the North American Cement Company and is not open to the public.

The present Howe Caverns shows the part of the cave above the dam and is reached by elevators at the Lodge. It is approximately 1600 feet of main cave, 339 feet of Winding Way, and 500 feet of lake.

As is the case in many companies, the originator was crowded out. Mr. Howe knew of another cavern by Mr. Howe knew of another cavern by underground drainage and studied it carefully. He reported it as larger and far better than Howe's Cave but died before he could open it. This new cave became an object of search when Howe Caverns was opened. It was rediscovered and entered at several places but no one has yet traversed its entire length.

The Secret Caverns development is in part of it. The section opened is entirely natural and very beautiful. It shows about 1800 feet of passage, most of which required a great deal of workto make passable for visitors.

The greater part of this cave is undeveloped and is owned by the Robinsons, who control about 30,000 feet of large caverns in that place. It is hoped that this can be opened to the public at some time for it is, as Lester Howe said, a larger, finer cave than Howe Caverns.

A third cavern was commercialized in 1933. This was Roaches' Cave. The name was changed to Knox Cave in order to make it easier to find as it is near Knox in the Town of Knox, Albany County.

Knox Cave is much different from any of the other, because it has grown along a number of parallel passages and on several different levels. This peculiar growth gives it a greater mileage of passages than either Howe’s Cave or Secret Caverns and also permits developing a circular trip.

The are of the cave now displayed is on the 3rd and 4th levels. The parts next to be opened are on the 2nd and 5th levels. The water is mostly on the lowest or 1st level, but great there are springs and streams on the 2nd and 3rd levels. It seems to be one of the largest know caverns in the state, containing many large rooms and much beautiful formation. There are also prehistoric and Indian remains in the dryer sections of the upper level which the other caves do not have.

There are a large number of other caves in the Maulries rock of this state. So far as I knoen but a few of them can be opened to the public with any hope of profit from the work. One of these is Balls Cave, now owned by Stephen Wilber, located between Delanson and Schoharie.

Many years ago this cave was open to the public by means of ladders and ropes. The owners lived in a log house near the entrance and entertained visitors at the cavern and overnight. There are records of people traveling from Europe to see Balls’ cave end sleeping in the old log house.

Balls Cave is interesting for two things, it contains the largest known room in a cavern in this state. This room, when cleared of debris will be 200 feet by 300 feet under one unsupported ceiling of Coeymans rock over 60 feet thick and with a hill on top of that. The other interesting is a series of nine natural tufa dams which create lakes in the cave. These are real natural lakes and the only ones requiring boats yet found in this state so far known,

Gebhard Cavern now owned by R. Veenfliet at Schoharie is chiefly interesting because of Mr. Gebhard who found it. Mr. Gebhard might justly be called the head of the works on geology in this state as a state undertaking. The cave is along the same fault as Howe's Cave but is in the section cut off by the Cobleskill valley.

Bateholts Cave at Shutter Corners was open to the public some 60 years ago for about 800 feet but is not commercially valuable under present conditions. It is a narrow passage but may lead into rooms if opened far enough.

Only the three caves now open and Balls Cave seem to have a fair chance of earning dividends or cost of opening. The others might earn an income for a family if opened as a family project by home labor and operated as resorts with other amusements.

Altamont Enterprise Friday October 19, 1934