Cave Rescue, February 24, 1985
Bowden Cave, WV


On Sunday, February 24, Scott Stanzel and Lou Martino entered Bowden Cave, West Virginia. A 70 degree day outside had brought flooding from the snow melt to the local streams and they soon found similar conditions underground. They passed upstream through 300 feet of passage six feet high by three feet wide with a three foot depth of raging water. Beyond, they spent time warming up, then took another two and a hlaf hours searching for the second of three entrances to the cave. Though they had been in the cave before, their knowledge of it was apparently gained from a book on West Virginia caves and they thus were unaware that their second entrance had collapsed the year before.

Meanwhile, their van, parked at the entrance, had been noticed and at one p.m. three cavers from the Parkersburg Grotto entered the cave to check out the situation. At the narrow stream passage they found a camera and guessed that the van cavers were beyond; the stream was now five feet deep. They exited and went around to the cave's third entrance which would afford access to the area where Stanzel and Martino presumably were.

After several nasty crossings of the flooded Bickle Run, they entered the third entrance and proceeded to the second-largest room where they encountered Stanzel and Martino, getting ready to attempt the stream passage. They were led out in good order, but after retracing the Bickle Run crossings one rescuer had to be treated for hypothermia.


NSS News, November 1986 (Part 2) V44N11, Page 401.

Gary Ferell "Rescue at Bowden Cave" The Parkersburg Subterranean Flier 2(4), April 1985.

Scott Loane "Elkins Cavers Rescue Pair Trapped in Bowden Cave by High Waters" News clipping, no source, no date.

Scott Stanzel "Rescue from Bowden" The Parkersburg Subterranean Flier 2(5), May 1985, p 3-4.


This kind of thing is a great adventure but try not to forget that your actions may cost the lives of rescuers.