Danielson Center

Conserving Our Caving Heritage

John L. Long, Chairman (in 2009) of the Mid-Atlantic Karst Conservancy, executed a sales agreement on Thursday, March 26, 2009, for a house at 137 E. Campbell St., Blairsville, Pennsylvania, to be used as a library and cave and karst education center. At a sales price of less than $30,000, this small, three bedroom home will launch a project of the MAKC to "Conserve our Caving Heritage." The center will be called The Bob and Bev Danielson Library and Cave and Karst Education Center.

A small, separate apartment, adjacent to the house, will provide additional space, until, we hope, we outgrow this site. We hope to close by early to mid-May.

The MAKC has received numerous collections, the feature collection at present being the NSS award-winning slides of the late Frank Mielcarek, of Pittsburgh Grotto. Several other collections have been pledged, but not yet donated, because of lack of space to store them in board members' homes. Paul H. Damon, Sr., editor of the NSS 50-year history book, is serving as our archivist and librarian.

This project will return to the roots of the NSS, in some small fashion, by once again having a caving library in the region. The NSS Library was originally consolidated by members of Pittsburgh Grotto and housed in Pittsburgh, after it was moved from Washington, D.C., under the direction of Julia Staniland. It was later moved to New Jersey under the guidance of Russ and Jeanne Gurnee, before being moved to Huntsville, Alabama.

Blairsville is located in Indiana County, just over the Conemaugh River from Hillside, Westmoreland County, western Pennsylvania's premiere cave and karst region. The MAKC currently leases two of the longest caves in the county, including Bear Cave, owned by Tom and Kim Metzgar; and a cave on part of the Trout Run Woods Preserve, and one of the longest and deepest caves in the state. The Trout Run Woods Preserve is comprised of more than 5,000 acres on Chestnut Ridge, and contains more than three dozen smaller caves, which MAKC also leases and manages.

Many of the more than 500 current NSS members from Pennsylvania have caved in this area. An equal amount of visitors come from Ohio. And countless other cavers, such as Chuck Hempel, Alan McCrady, Bob Dunn, and many old-time Pittsburgh Grotto members got started caving in the caves of the Hillside area.

Two ardent supporters of this project are Bob and Bev Danielson, longtime benefactors of many caving organizations, including the NSS. They recently issued a $30,000 challenge grant to make this heritage project a reality.

The MAKC is proud to announce this project, especially in light of all the threats to cave access by the White Nose Syndrome which is devastating our bat populations. While access to caves may be closed (we hope temporarily), many other projects can be undertaken. And preserving our cavingheritage is of the utmost importance.

We ask your support in helping us meet the Danielson Challenge, and helping us preserve, not only the caves of today for the cavers of tomorrow, but our caving heritage as well.

John L. Long, Chairman, Mid-Atlantic Karst Conservancy
Phil Gowaty, Vice Chairman
Sue Moore, Treasurer
Carl Pierce, Secretary
Board members: Paul Damon, Jr., Andrea Gillis, Jeff Jahn, Mike Kern, Mark Lancaster, Mike Schirato, Kerry Speelman.
(and Tom and Kim Metzgar, founders and former board members).
Contributions to "Conserving our Caving Heritage" can be sent to MAKC, 137 East Campbell St., Blairsville, PA 15717. MAKC, founded in 1997, is a 501 (c) 3 corporation.