By Richard Rhinehart ~ January 16th, 2009. Filed under: Caving News.
At the city-owned Garden of the Gods park on the outskirts of Colorado Springs, a formerly popular cave awaits reopening. Calling it a cave is a bit of a stretch – Spaulding’s Cave is more of a closed fissure in the red Fountain sandstone that outcrops spectacularly in the Garden and brings thousands of visitors each year. An early attraction of the region – pioneer signatures dating back to the late 1850s are reported in the cave – but for the last 45 years, no one has examined these important records of the early history of the Pikes Peak region.
Closed by the City of Colorado Springs to visitation since 1935, Spaulding’s 200 feet of passage lies forgotten and ignored by most residents of the city and the great majority of visitors. Blocked by a secure cement and rebar plug, the cave beneath the North Gateway Rock has led to rumors of secret passageways leading from the Garden to Huccacove Cave in Williams Canyon, another cave closed to public visitation since the late 1970s. Although cavers with the National Speleological Society’s Williams Canyon Project have carefully explored, charted and studied the dusty passageways of Huccacove – Colorado’s first commercially-operated cave – lingering rumors hint of passageways leading east through the Manitou Limestone beneath Black Canyon and the Cedar Heights subdivision to the sandstones of Garden of the Gods. Geologically, this is impossible, but rumors live forever.
Since late December 2008, interest in Spaulding’s Cavern among residents of Colorado Springs and cavers has grown as the Colorado Springs Gazette published two articles about the cave by reporter Dave Philipps. The articles report on the cave’s history, including stories reporting the cave’s reopening in 1963 through a determined effort to pierce the cement plug by area school boys.
The Gazette articles also report that area historians are encouraging the city to reopen the cave so that the historic signatures can be documented and recorded. Members of the Colorado Springs-based Colorado Mountain Grotto of the NSS also have taken an interest in the cave and its possible reopening. If the cave is successfully reopened for study and documentation, a sturdy cave gate on its entrance might provide protection from vandalism, while allowing for future historic investigations.
For now, the Gazette reports the City of Colorado Springs is willing to consider a reopening of the cave, but doesn’t have the funding to manage the project and protect it after reopening. Perhaps this is where the Mountain Grotto might be of assistance, as cavers often manage projects for caves with very low funding.
Online:Garden of the Gods, history, Huccacove Cave, Spaulding's Cavern