Knox Cave Book: Addis

From Helderberg Hilltowns of Albany County, NY
Go to Knox Cave

The following material is from: "A Study For The NSS: Knox Cave. A detailed study in cave management with applications to caves worldwide. Bulletin #3 of the New York Cave Survey. By Robert P. Addis, 139pp, illus., 1979" This book and other material about caves and bats is available at


No attempt will be made to completely describe every detail of the cave. That task would be laborious, confusing, and ultimately impossible. Careful perusal of the excellent map located in the rear of this report would do much to aid one's familiarity with the cave. Passage heights, their depth beneath the surface, their general shape, as well as their relationship to each other can all be gleaned from a fastidious study of the Map. It is also hoped the various illustrations help and not hinder a more complete understanding of Knox Cave, but the comprehensive experience is best derived from a personal visit to the cave.

A. The First Pit

Since its days of commercialization, this has been negotiated with the help of a stairway (See Fig. 7) but for reasons explained in the History Section, the stairs were removed and later replaced with a steel ladder (See Fig. 8). The vertical drop is 25 feet.

B. The Big Room

The Big Room still presents a vista, and the glistening upper walls of flowstone, if properly illuminated, are an impressive sight. Enormous pieces of fallen rock, called breakdown, are reminders of past geological processes (See Fig. 9).

C. The Gunbarrel

The Gunbarrel is a straight, tubular passage about 50 feet long. It is about 18 inches high by about 12 inches wide at its front end, and tapers gradually until it is about 8 by 12 inches at the back end-just enough room for a caver to squeeze through into a wide, low crawl- way. Traversing the Gunbarrel is a well known initiation rite among Northeastern cavern. The fame of the passage is such that it is probably nationally known.

D. The Great Divide & Lemon Squeeze

To cross the Great Divide, one must climb a pile of breakdown in a narrow canyon, and then either crawl up through the Lemon Squeeze, or chimmey up and around a chockstone with 30 feet of exposure to falling. Since it is impossible for most people to negotiate the Lemon Squeeze in the upward direction, many people turn around at this point. Thus are the great divided from the ordinary.

E. The Alabaster Room

The Alabaster Room lies at the remote extreme of the cave, and is reached by negotiating both the Gun- barrel and the Great Divide. Thus, it still contains some unvandalized formations or speleothems (See Fig. 10). In addition, it is a large room.

F. Potential for New Discoveries Over the years many new findings have been made and lost in Knox Cave. Negley, the legendary explorer, supposedly found several now unknown passages, including the Football Room (so named because it was as large as a football field) and 2400 feet of passage beyond the Alabaster Room. In the past there have been many digging operations, both on the surface and underground, in hopes of discovering new cave. Speculation is rampant, and Maslyn (1975) has suggested that Knox Cave, Skull Cave, and Old Skull Cave, as well as several other caves and sinks in the area are all connected by a vast network of underground passages. Only time will tell, but the potential is there, and further work may lead to significant breakthroughs.