National Speleological Society, June, 1991

From Helderberg Hilltowns of Albany County, NY

NSS News 1991


Knox Cave has long ceased to exist as a commercial venture, but was still noted as such on road maps when I first started caving in New York in the late '60s. Once in a while, one heard tales of startled tourists who had found their way there, expecting an operating show cave. Now owned by the Northeast Cave Conservancy, written permission is needed to enter.* 1t remains a favorite of old cavers and locals alike and it has taken years to convince them that, just like the sign said, yes, the police do take notice.

Nearly a decade before the Cave Conservancy took ownership of Knox Cave, we stuffed it with 150 persons attending an NRO that coincided with a college outing club caving gathering. To add to our troubles, three carloads of police came by then and asked for our leaders and our "spelunking permits" Fortunately, both leaders were underground at the time and the police did not want to see us bad enough to go find us!

Located in a large sink with two vertical walls, Knox can be entered by rope by those detemiined to make a vertical cave of it. Most don't bother. The cave is dry and generally not very dirty, with tall. joint-controlled fissures dominating its 3000+ ft of passage. Half of this is easily accessible and was part of the old tour: the rest lies beyond the famous Gunbarrel. a 50-ft-long, 14-inch diameter, well-polished. horizontal chute (or should I say "shoot"?). It's fun, if you fit. and a surprising number do. Kids will love showing up the old folks here. Knox is a fun cave to climb around in on either side of the Gun Barrel.


The St. Louis BOG meeting (Fall, l978) saw Bob Addis try to persuade the Directors to accept the gift of Knox Cave. His pleas were unheeded as the Board's legitimate fears of lawsuit outweighed natural desires to get a free cave. The owner, Dr. DeLisa, had been the subject of a lengthy lawsuit when a huge block of ice fell from the cliff in the entrance sink killing one caver and paralyzing another. The upshot of this was the formation of the Northeast Cave Conservancy, a not-for-profit organization incorporated in New York whose sole asset is Knox Cave and the nine acres surrounding it. The property is generally flat, open and grassy with a succession of species coming in which will eventually leave it forested. As for now, the only stand of trees are the ones which surround the sink above the cave. Bedrock is within a few inches of the surface. Two intermittent streams enter the sinkhole and provide the water for ice, which can last until June.

Knox Cave was operated commercially from 1933 to 1960 and the remains of this venture undoubtedly contribute to the 20 species of mold and mushrooms that have been found within. In addition. there is a small hat population which consists mostly of Little Brown hats.

It is open by permit to any competent caver and this permit system is strictly enforced. Emily Davis Mobley is the local access caretaker and is the person to be contacted for permits. The cave is closed from October 15 until the ice leaves in the spring. Knox has been a popular cave for both locals and cavers for decades, the Favorite of many. Its popularity is enhanced by the fact that it is one of the few sizable caves in the area which can be visited in times of high water—plus it is just a lot of fun to climb around in.