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Reprinted from The Utah Caver; Volume 4, Number 2, April 1992

While reformatting this page I noticed that the information associated with the following links below is missing - Does anybody know where it went? Michael Leavitt 3/14/2009

  • Candlelight in the Dark
  • Ecstasy in Candlelight
  • Candlelight without Fright
  • Quickie Geology in Candlelight Cave
  • Candlelight Cave-Spicule Canyon


This Issue's Feature Article
The History of Candlelight Cave
April, 1992
By Rodney D. Horrocks & Wayne Bodily

Candlelight Cave is a modern name applied to an extensive hydrothermal cave originally discovered by miners in the late 1920's. The cave is located at the 95 foot level in a 260 foot shaft in the Mississippian-aged Gardison Limestone. (This is a preliminary history gathered from some very sketchy facts. Additional research will undoubtedly greatly add to the story and clarify some mistakes made here.)

This story began with a miner named Alma T. Madsen, from Provo UT., and his partner Henery Falkner. They had staked out several standard-sized mining claims (600 x 1500 feet) in a mining district in the west desert between 1925 and 1927, and filed them with the Utah County office. Some of these claims were the Queen, the King, the A. & H., and the North Delmar. One of their properties had a "blossom", or a sinkhole with jasperoid and gossen mineralization in it. This sinkhole was attractive to the miners because they often occur along faults, and hint at potential mineralization. Taking several of their claims, they apparently deeded them into a property they named the Standard Extension. They picked this name because they hoped that they might realize the same success as the nearby Eureka Standard mine, the only really successful mine in the immediate area.

For financial and legal reasons, a mining company was created. The principle players in the mining operation were: Alma T. Madsen, the president of the Standard Extension mining company; Henery Faulkner, his partner; and Martin Horton, who lived in Eureka and operated the hoist as well as helped drill the shaft.

The shaft was begun about 20 feet from the sinkhole. A standard engine hoist was built to haul the muck out of the shaft. This hoist consisted of a platform on a crosshead. Alma and his crew begun sinking the shaft by hand, using a single Jack. Later he purchased a Cochise air drill and a 8 x 8 Sullivan compressor, which had a 4-cylinder gasoline engine. They also built a small cabin to the south of the shaft. Since Alma and Henery had no money, they attracted the help of a gentleman from Meadow to finance the project. He contributed 10,000-16,000 dollars of his own money. Additionally, he sold penny stocks for 5 to 25 cents a share at his gas station.

Forty feet down, they encountered open cave with dogtooth spar-covered walls. However, the cave wasn't very extensive and they could find no evidence of ore associated with the cave. Continuing down, they discovered evidence of a second cave at the 95-foot level. Starting a horizontal drift, they tunneled 35 feet before barely clipping a much larger cave. The miners were sure they had made their big discovery and started exploring the cave and taking samples of the cave-fill sediment for assays. In several sections of the cave, they excavated the floor to make access easier. They also used breakdown to build retaining walls to hold back the muck they were excavating. The miners left evidence that they had been in the cave in the traditional means of their times, by using carbide lamps to write their names on the walls. Other evidence includes whisky and beer bottles, which they never broke, and laid neatly off to the sides of various passages. They also left behind a lot of spent flashbulbs.

Although the assay showed some mineralization in the cave sediment, there wasn't enough sediment to produce a profit. So, they continued their shaft until they ran out of money at about the 280-foot level. As they sunk their shaft, they timbered the sides to within 20 feet of the bottom. A chain ladder was used to negotiate the last 20 feet.

They guided many people through their caves in hopes that someone would again finance the prospect. They referred to their cave simply as, the Standard Extension Cave. One of these guests, was a young Vern Bullock, the son of an active miner in Utah County named Ben Bullock. In 1930, Vern was lowered to the first cave and given a short tour. Vern remembers that when they were ready to leave, they pulled a cord to ring a bell that told the hoist man they were ready to be pulled up. Despite these soliciting efforts, Alma was unsuccessful in attracting any investors. After two years of steady effort, with no evidence of any ore in sight or significant investors, all the timbering was taken from the mine and used in another prospect. The cabin was sold to Vern Bullock, who moved it to the Bullock Mine on Blowhole Hill and then later to his property in Spring Valley, where it can still be seen today. At that time, Alma sold the hoist, a small drum, and the main cable. The mine was then abandoned.

Once Alma failed to complete the annual assessment work on the Standard Extension, a man by the name of Higgons filed a claim on the mine. He continued to work in the cave and took many people through the cave from 1930 to 1935. Although, work on the mine was stopped, many claims were filed on the property over the years.

William R. Halliday was introduced to the area on Aug. 29,1953 when he and Bob Keller explored a cave they called Nameless Cave. This cave, which is located near the Standard Extension mine, has a 50-foot entrance drop. When they returned on Sept. 30, 1953, he and J.R. Keller, Bryan Johnson, and Kearns Christenson used a cable ladder to drop the 50-foot entrance pit of the cave, which they mapped at 130 feet of passage and renamed Upper Cave.

On November 1st, they moved to the Standard Extension mine, where William R. Halliday, Rich Woodford, and Kirkham used a cable ladder to drop to the first cave, which was then named the NE Tintic Ridge Mine Cave. Returning on Nov. 11th, Woodford, Kirkham and Halliday were able to map Mine Cave. Halliday heard rumors that Mine Cave might be connected with a lower cave at the 110-foot level, however, he found no connection. Because they didn't have a long enough cable ladder, they didn't follow up on the lower lead.

The next recorded exploration of the caves in the area, took place on March 24, 1957, when Dale Green, Jim Edwards, Bill Clark, and Paul Shettler from the Salt Lake Grotto explored Upper Cave. The only thing that actually made it down the Standard Extension shaft was a barrel they threw in.

Over the years, at least two Utah cavers were told of the lower cave, but neither followed up on the lead. On August 26, 1972, William R. Halliday dug through his journals, compiling information about his caving exploits in Utah, which he sent to Dale Green. In this letter, William mentioned a recollection that there was a cave at the 110foot level in the mine. Then in 1985, Vern Bullock, the local miner who had visited Mine Cave in 1930, told Rod Horrocks about this beautifully-decorated cave with lots of rooms and miles of passage. Because of the long rappel in an unstable mine and his disbelief in the story, Rod also never followed up on the lead either.

The last and most recent claim on the mine was filed in 1988 by a geology professor named Spenst M. Hansen. He named the mine the Zanz # 16 or 17 claim. It was part of a group of claims called the Peton & Peton #13. Today, there are rumors that the area was reportedly withdrawn from mineral entry at the same time, around 1988; but these haven't been substantiated.

In the fall of 1991, the Abandoned Mine Reclamation people had a permit to close the Standard Extension mine by filling the shaft with a front end loader. However, because of other work, they missed the deadline on their permit and the cave was miraculously preserved for future rediscovery by organized cavers.

Wayne Bodily, from the Wasatch Grotto, entered the picture after his interest was captured when Dale Green described Mine Cave and the nearby Upper Cave at the September 1991 Salt Lake Grotto meeting. When Dale mentioned that he hadn't been to either cave, and only knew an approximate location, Wayne decided that he would make them a personal project. He began by obtaining a U.S.G.S. topo sheet and a geologic map of the area in question. Wayne then looked for a mine shaft with a nearby cave. He found plenty of shafts indicated on the topographic sheet, but none close together. However, while looking on the second map, a geologic map, he found a shaft with a very faint marking nearby, which could have been easily overlooked. He felt that he had hit pay dirt.

On Oct. 12, 1991, Wayne drove out to the area in question and located the shaft just before dusk. Walking up to the shaft, he threw some rocks in and counted a 4 1/2 second fall time. He then walked up the hill and ran right into the entrance of Upper Cave, which had been expanded by miners. When Wayne returned on Nov. 9th. with fellow Wasatch Grotto members, Neil Shurtleff and Dave Shurtz, they removed all the old timbers covering the Upper Cave entrance. The cave had obviously not been entered in a long time. Dave and Niel dropped in first. After exploring Upper Cave, they dropped into the Standard Extension shaft and entered Mine Cave. They were amazed at the beautiful spar crystals covering the walls. The small cave reminded them of a giant crystal-lined vug or geode. When they returned to the area on Dec. 14th, they explored Upper Cave, more thoroughly.

Rodney Mulder, also from the Wasatch Grotto, entered the picture at this point in time. After hearing about the 260-foot deep mine shaft, he decided it would be a fun challenge to drop it, despite Waynes concern for his safety. Dale hadn't mentioned, or had forgotten about Halliday's recollection of another cave at the 110-foot level, so Rodney was just looking for some adventure. Because none of the original three could go with him, Rodney recruited a couple other fairly new cavers from the Timpanogos Grotto, named Darrin Nilsson and Jim Keller.

On Friday Dec. 21st. 1991, Rodney dropped the shaft first, followed by Darrin and Jim. After poking around and finding nothing of significance at the bottom, Rodney ascended up the shaft to the first opening he came to, and which, he assumed was Mine Cave (He hadn't noticed Upper Cave during his rappel). He did a preliminary reconnaissance down the drift and into the cave. After venturing briefly into what would later be called the Discovery Room of Candlelight Cave, he called the others up. They were immediately confused, because Wayne described a small hands and knees passage covered with dogtooth spar crystals. Instead, what they found was hundreds of feet of walking passage, an intense maze, and little spar. They spent a couple of hours exploring the cave, venturing as far as the canyon that Rodney would later call Ooh-Aah Canyon.

When Rodney returned home, he called Wayne to find out what was going on. When Wayne realized that he was talking about a different cave, he jokingly told Rodney that the cave they were exploring connected to Blow Hole Cave, which of course is impossibly too far away. Excited about the cave, they returned Dec. 28th. with Wayne & Ben Bodily, and Britt ? from the Wasatch Grotto and Clair Call, Alan Bartholomew, and John Flaker from the Timpanogos Grotto. During this trip, Utah came close to having its first caver related fatality, as John free-fell nearly 90 feet before being pulled into the drift at the last second by Rodney Mulder (Rodney later received the first "Spirit of Utah Cave Award", for his life saving reaction. See the article, "Accident at Candlelight Cave," in this same issue).

The next day, Darrin went to Rod Horrocks house to describe what they had found. He was still confused as to whether or not they had found Mine Cave. Rod got out Halliday's technical note and showed Darrin the map, which he couldn't make fit what they had found. After having the cave described to him, Rod assured Darrin that they weren't the same cave. The length, directions, large candles, and lack of dogtooth spar were ample evidence. Darrin then asked him if they had found a good cave? With a big grin, stretching from one ear to the other, Rod suggested that they just might have a "good" cave. Anyway, Rod was ecstatic and scheduled a trip for the following Tuesday. Rod immediately started talk about beginning a survey project in the cave. When he asked Darrin what he called the cave, Darrin replied that he couldn't come up with a good name. Rod suggested that they refer to the cave as Candlelight Cave, at least until they thought of a better name. Since that time, the name has stuck.

By Tuesday, the Candlelight Cave Survey Project had been loosely formed as an inter-grotto project. Rod Horrocks, Dave Shurtz, and Ryan Shurtz officially began the project by surveying 553 feet of passage between the entrance and Ooh-Aaw Canyon. At the same time, Mike Gomm, Alan Bartholomew, and Steve Allphin dropped the 65-foot pit (Later named Post Nasal Drop) and discovered the spacious lower section, which ended at a depth of 320 feet from the entrance of the cave. Three more survey trips were taken before an unfortunate incident happened at the cave.

Twenty cavers, mostly unsupervised, showed up at the mine, some of which weren't vertically competent. Because of the may hem that resulted and several safety violations in the vertical work involved in dropping the shaft, an alarm went out that reached all the way to the BLM.

Calling the BLM, Dale Green expressed his concern at what was happening. Paul Scheoblom, from the Abandoned Mine Reclamation, apparently interpreted this to mean that the mine should be filled up to protect it from the cavers. When Dale learned that the Abandoned Mine Reclamation group had obtained another permit to close the mine the following Saturday, he called Wayne Bodily and warned him of the eminent doom of the cave. Wayne then called Dave Shurtz and Rod Horrocks and a phone campaign was started. Once Rod had warned Mike Gomm, Mike shouldered the full responsibility to see that the mine wasn't closed, or so he thought. He immediately called Lou Kirkman in the BLM and asked if Lou was aware of the cave in the mine. He was horrified by the news and began procedures to pull the permit to fill the cave. At the same time, unaware of Mike's efforts, Dave Shurtz also shouldered the full responsibility to see that the mine wasn't filled up. Calling Paul Scheoblom, he arranged a deal with the Abandoned Mine Reclamation group to only fill the mine up to the entrance of Candlelight Cave. Although they both approached the problem from different directions, the end result was the same. The cave was narrowly saved by a couple of days.

Until a management plan could be drawn up, Lou closed the mine by placing no trespassing signs around the area. Most of the principle cavers involved in the project to that point, were in agreement that something must be done to protect the cave from cavern, not to mention the cavern from themselves, so they weren't opposed to being forced into protecting the cave. However, all felt that filling the shaft was not the answer! Since this was completely unacceptable to almost everybody, an emergency meeting with the BLM was scheduled for April 7th. The BLM had several people in attendance, including: Maggie Kelsey, Lou Kirkman and others. Dave Scheoblom attended from the Abandoned Mine Reclamation group, and Dave Shurtz, Wayne Bodily, Mike Gomm, Dale Green, and Clair Call represented the organized cavers. During the meeting, it was decided that the cavers would design and build a gate while they put together a draft management plan. Dave Shurtz directed the project, Jesse Keller designed the concrete pad, and several Timpanogos Grotto members built the gate that Lynn Bartholomew designed.

By the time that everybody met for the second meeting on April 16th, the gate was finished, much to the astonishment of the BLM. I think it's fair to say that they were shocked at the skill and manpower that tote 90 cavers got together at so short a notice. The BLM learned that the NSS isn't just another special interest group looking for handouts, but instead, a group of conservation minded people who love the caves they protect and are willing to go to great effort to save them!

Looking back on how we as cavers handled this discovery, although their are some negative things that can be said, the overwhelming response had been positive. Candlelight Cave has been established as a monument to the collective effort of all three Utah Grottos.


Halliday, William R. 1954. Limestone Solution Caverns of the Tintic, Lake and Oquirrh Ranges, Utah. Technical # 21. Salt Lake Grotto National Speleological Society. pp. 1-7.

Discovery of Candlelight Cave
Dec. 21, 1991
By Rodney Mulder (Wasatch Grotto)
On Trip: Rodney Mulder, Darrin Nilsson, and Jim Keller

Some people say that Candlelight Cave is the caving find of the year, perhaps the last few years. It is a very large and well decorated cave, it is warm, well protected from non-cavers, and it is in our own back yard. It also has vertical and plenty of virgin potential. So why didn't anyone know about it? Supposedly no one had visited Candlelight Cave for over forty years, since the 1950's. This is what we had originally believed.

To my knowledge, this project started when Wayne Bodily had found the locations of Upper Cave and the mine pit that Candlelight and Mine Caves are in. He then brought Neil Shurtleff and Dave Shurtz into it to explore. They explored Upper Cave, then explored Mine Cave. They had rappelled down the mine pit about 45 feet, then swung into a hole in the wall. I speak with Neil frequently, so I knew of their excitement when they had found Mine Cave. Some time later on, I was happily going along on the survey project led by Dave Shurtz. Unfortunately, there was no time to see Mine Cave because we spent all our time with Upper Cave. This was on the 14th of December, 1991.

I was anxious, I couldn't wait another month to see Mine Cave. And because I love good vertical, I also wanted to push the pit to see if anything else was there (not seriously expecting anything). I called around the caving circle and got two high speed cavern, Darrin and Jim, from the Timpanogos Grotto. We rappelled down the 260-foot pit to find it doesn't go anywhere. So we ascended up the pit to find a drift (horizontal mine passage) that was from 25-30 feet in length before it broke into natural cave passage. The drift was about 95 feet from the top of the pit. After we had swung into it, we took off our ascending gear and decided to follow the biggest passage. This led us to a place we now call Ooh-Aah Canyon. That's what everyone says when they see it. "Ooh, Aah, WoW!" The ceiling takes off, and the walls are caked in gypsum and decorations. Some of the decorations were beautiful pink and white, while some were a delicious orange sherbet. I also found caramel corn (didn't taste like it) and many other formations and decorations. The unique thing about our discovery, was that it was not the same discovery that Wayne, Dave, and Neil had made. They had found a small cave that was highly decorated, while we found a very large cave that seems endless and is continually dropping into little pits and slides. We were so amazed, we decided to plan another trip for the near future.

We found out later that night that we had found something totally different, we were proud. Later on, Rod named the cave "Candlelight Cave".

Candlelight Rediscovered
Dec.12, 1991
By Jim Keller (Timpanogos Grotto)
On Trip: Darrin Nilsson, Rodney Mulder, Jim Keller.

I ran into Darren at the mall on Thursday and he mentioned that he and Rodney were going to Mine Cave. He and I had just recently gotten our vertical gear (thanks to Clair Call) and were itching to try it out. This particular cave was reachable only by repelling down a vertical mine shaft. Some hearty soul (probably Rodney) said nobody had been to the bottom of the mine shaft yet that he knew of. It was supposed to be 300 feet deep and he had a 300 foot rope. Gee, sounds like a plan coming together!

Darren and I met Rodney at the Lehi junction about 10:15 A.M. Saturday morning (15 minutes late! Sorry Rodney) and proceeded to the cave site. We were able to drive right to the mine hole. It was covered with many 2 x 10's to keep people and animals from falling in. We piled up 6 or 7 across the mouth to fashion a bar to keep the rope in the middle of the shaft. Rodney tied his rope to a nearby cedar tree and dropped his rope down the hole. It hit the bottom so we knew it wasn't quite 300 feet deep. We later calculated it to be about 250 feet.

Rodney was the first one down. As he neared the bottom, he stopped cautiously above the bottom to survey the area for snakes. It was very warm down there and seemed an ideal place for a snake pit, although very deep. Seeing nothing, he got off rope and soon all three of us were standing on the bottom. OK, we're here, so big deal. It was just a square hole about 250-feet deep with a lot of breakdown, old timbers and pipe in the bottom. We came, we saw. Now, let's get up to the cave and do some serious caving! On the way down I noticed two cave-like holes and two mine shafts. Two? We were only told about one.

Because Rodney was the pro here, he went up first and swung into the first shaft from the bottom. Darren and I huddled on opposite sides of the shaft as Rodney tried many times to swing into the horizontal drift. Luckily for us there were two small pockets we could duck under because he was knocking down rocks that whistled like stray bullets from nearly 200 feet up! After an arduous free hanging climb, Darren and I were soon sitting wearily in the horizontal drift peeling off sweaty climbing gear and complaining of shaky legs and cramping muscles.

"What's this in the crack," Rodney mused? A business card of Wayne Bodily! Later, when we found out that this wasn't Mine Cave, we wondered how it got there? Had he been holding out on us? Was he trying to keep this cave a secret? (We later found out that he had tossed his card down the shaft and it had evidently landed there because the cave had been breathing in that day!)

Rodney told us that he was informed by others who had been here that the cave we were looking for wasn't much, only 50-70 feet or so at the end of the mine's horizontal drift. So we obviously weren't prepared for what we found.

The mine drift went back about 40 feet to where it broke into the cave. Had the miners been ten feet either way, they might have missed this cave completely. "Wow, is this a cave or swiss cheese", Rodney yelled. Tunnels went everywhere! Up, down, right left! "This can't be the same cave I was told about," he exclaimed. We each picked a tunnel to see where it led. Someone was thoughtful enough to have strung some string down the main passage so we wouldn't get lost! We each took different tunnels and soon ended up together again. They seemed always to interconnect! After a while we came to the conclusion that if it weren't for the string, we wouldn't have had the nerve to go on because of the extreme difficulty of the maze. Mapping this cave is going to be a lot of work. There must have been thousands of feet there and we hadn't even seen a part of it. Hey! Somebody call Rod Horrocks. Have we got a mapping challenge for him!

The cave seems to have formed the same way as the other caves in the region, by thermal water. And like the other caves in the region, it is not a cold cave. It is actually quite comfortable. There were no dripstone to speak of that we had seen yet Occasionally we would find a small room that was pure white from gypsum or aragonite or something. We continued on and down until we finally dropped down through a tight hole into what I called the Grand Canyon (Ooh-Aah Canyon), a very high crack filled with beautiful, white formations. We didn't want to venture down into it and mar the whiteness.

As we climbed out of that room we ventured into another passage, around a corner and wow! Gypsum hair, pure white popcorn, coral! Such beautiful whitenessl Such delicate beauty! We climbed carefully down into the bottom of it and just sat there, enjoying the site for about half an hour. There were several large chunks of coral just laying there like someone broke them off and didn't take them out. But we couldn't see where they might have broken off. Had they just formed loose on the ground? I realized that I had never before seen pure white popcom! What a site! The repell to the bottom of the mine shaft and the painful climb back out were worth it, to see such exquisite beauty. There appeared to be another lead in the other end of this room going down but we didn't have the time or energy to look into it that day. It could have gone even deeper than that point. There had been others there before, I think, but thank goodness, they had not ruined it for us. We returned the favor for those who are sure to follow.

An interesting sidelight to the sights in the cave were the artifacts in the cave. There were many large candles all through the cave. Were they left !here by the miners or some cavers years forgotten? There were some signatures burned by carbide lamps but they seemed to be from a long time ago, some in 1934. At many points in the cave we discovered antique whiskey and beer bottles stuffed into cracks, no doubt by our curious miners of ages past. The artifacts actually helped us recognize where we were in the cave. They helped us remember that we passed this point earlier.

Following the string back out we were able to reach the mine shaft entrance in only a few minutes. Thank goodness for that string! There might have been a search and rescue had it not been there. There were a great many leads we didn't get a chance to follow. I am sure there is a lot of virgin cave in there. They will, no doubt, provide adventure for another day and another caver. This could turn out to be a very big discovery. It was so nice to see a cave that has not been totally defiled by careless thrill-seekers and thoughtless vandals. It was even more exciting to be on the team that rediscovered it after having been forgotten about all these years! Although many grotto members and other cavers will be sure to visit this cave, I believe it needs to be kept secret from outsiders who could be injured or killed trying to reach it. The entrance is very dangerous and deep in the mine shaft. Precautions need to be taken before venturing down!

Accident at Candlelight Cave
Dec. 28, 1992
By Rodney Mulder (Wasatch Grotto)
On Trip: Rodney Mulder, Wayne Bodily, Ben Bodily, Briton Barker, Darrin Nilsson, Clair Call, Alan Bartholomew, and John Flaker.

I told Wayne all about the discovery of Candlelight Cave, so he and I were very anxious to return to further investigate. I bummed a ride with him in Salt Lake and we were on our way along with Ben and Briton. Ironically, Darrin had linked up with Clair Call and planned a trip to see it the same day. I talked them into meeting us so we could work as one group.

Everyone was excited to see this new cave, so we rigged my 300 foot rope around a tree and over six long planks. I was first to descend, followed by Darrin. We were sitting in the drift when John got on rope. Wayne yelled down the pit "On rope, On belay?". To belay a person had been an unusual practice to us, to our shame. But fortunately for us, and especially for John, Wayne (Captain Safety) was on the ball. He had noticed John didn't have enough bars on his rack to safely descend on rope, and of course he said something about it. John did nothing about it. Since Wayne had yelled for a belay, I double-checked his request by yelling back-"You want a belay?". His response was "Hell Yes, they're free aren't they!" (see related story in the December 1991 issue). I felt a little stupid for asking such a question, so I put my gloves on, picked up the rope, and sat myself down in a comfortable anchoring position. Less than two seconds later, near disaster. Darrin and I both heard an unfamiliar and freaky scream. But it wasn't John, it was the rope. John had went into a high speed free fall and his rack was screaming down the rope. John was only 20-feet down when he picked up uncontrollable speed, and was continuing to build up speed as he fell down the 260-foot pit. I didn't hear anyone yelling for help, no one yelled "falling!", they were too stunned. John was watching his life, and the walls of the pit pass before him. I could not see John, and a dozen thoughts of what that noise could be ran through my head, When the thought of him falling came to me, it was instinct, I pulled as hard as I could, held it and watched. Booml He fell hitting his back against the pit wall/drift and floor. It didn't seem as though the belay slowed him down, but it did pull him into the passage enough to where he didn't continue his flight downward. He hit hard, but he was so overwhelmed with the thought of dying, that the fall really didn't phase him, as far as we know.

This incident was very awakening. We almost had the worst caving accident in Utah history happen right under our noses.

When I pulled on the rope, he didn't seem to slow down at all, and the thought occurred to me that he wasn't going to make it. It was only after this incident that I learned you can't belay a rack from below, I suppose he had a miracle coming to him.

Several points need to be brought up here: First the rack is very dangerous if not used properly. The rope must be attached the correct way, no second chances if you screw this one up. Secondly, you must start off with an excessive amount of bars locked and then decrease the number needed, especially when you have a large spacer. Thirdly and perhaps most important, no one is too good to be belayed. Accidents happen!

Candlelight Tour
April 1992
By Rodney Mulder (Wasatch Grotto)

For me, the Candlelight experience started when I answered a knock on my door on a Sunday afternoon and found a very excited Darrin Nilsson raving about this great cave. His story seemed too good to be true, and I made him do some real detailed description before I started believing his tales of this huge cave he and Rodney Mulder and Jim Keller had found. From the onset, it was obvious that they had found a cave of the type I had always dreamed about: big, warm, well-decorated, and close by. Darrin proceeded telling me about 50-foot high canyons, deep pits that rocks just bounced down forever, and large candles placed throughout the cave. When I asked him what they had named the cave, his continence changed and he admitted that they hadn't come up with a good name yet. Remembering what he had said about the candles, I suggested that he call it Candlelight Cave, at least until he came up with a better name. Since then, the name has kind of stuck. At the time, Darrin and I came to the conclusion that a survey project needed to be started, so we started planning a trip for Tuesday, just two days away. In the mean time, we decided that we needed to contact everybody that was already involved with the cave, as we could see a lot of political problems that could potentially develop. If we only knew at the time just how many!

While Dave Shurtz's longer rope was being rigged, he attempted to talk to the group about several concerns some of us had, including the importance of this new discovery about safety, and about caving ethics. By the time we were ready to drop the shaft, everybody had decided to do their own thing anyway, so Dave and I were left to start the survey by ourselves. But, we were used to that situation, so we just dove in.

Since this was the first time any of us had been in the cave, we took a couple of minutes to see which direction the main cave took. Dave and I were amazed at the proportions of this obviously hydrothermally formed cave. Amid whoops and hollers we compared the cave to a larger version of Antelope Springs Cave. We could also see similarities with Blow Hole, Nutty Putty, Cave of the Domes, and last but not least Lechuguillal The high blind domes, the big dirt-floored walking passages, the calcite-cemented breccia exposed in the walls, the dog-tooth spar crystals, and the gypsum formations all amazed us. With a little search, we found the little 1920-40 carbide lamp that Alan had told us about. Careful not to touch it, we admired the interesting artifact (We're now looking into a couple of possibilities to make sure everybody can enjoy all the mining artifacts that have been found in this cave). Getting back to the work on hand, we continued our survey.

About 150 feet from the first room, which we named the Discovery Room, we came to an area so complex that it can actually be compared to the boneyard passages so famous in Carlsbad Caverns. Taking a right we surveyed down a pit and into a small-sized room before we decided that we were no longer following the main route to the huge canyon that Darrin had described. Because of all the side passages taking off from the room, we left a recoverable point, and backtracked to the junction, where we took a left. Passing under a high dome, we stopped to look at a lead 30 feet up. Continuing down the pit that had originally steered Dave into the right-hand passage, we found that it was an easy downclimb.

Leaving what we later named Pick Head Junction, we slid along the edge of a 20-foot deep pit, crossed over a 12foot deep pit, and then chimneyed down a vertical, corkscrewing tube. The pink stained aragonite crystals on the walls inspired us to later name the pit the Pink Popcorn Pit. By this time we had lost nearly 80 feet in elevation, and dropped out of the tube and into a huge canyon that Rodney Mulder had named Ooh-Aah Canyon.

I was so excited about the cave, that I had the 553 feet of survey processed and drawn by the next day! Looking at all the question marks on the map is quite exciting. This great cave is going to keep us busy for a very long time. I'm convinced that the cave will easily become the fourth longest surveyed cave in the state of Utah, with at least one to one and a half miles of survey!

Preliminary Candlelight Cave Management Plan
April 1992
By Mike Gomm (Wasatch Grotto)

The gate was completed ahead of schedule and within a reasonable budget. In this regard, a management plan is required to assure long term protection of Candlelight and safety to those individuals visiting there. The following are items of discussion and voted recommendations (from the 7 April 1992 meeting) to be incorporated into the Candlelight Cave Management Plan: an agreement between the BLM and the Utah Grottos (Salt Lake, Wasatch, and Timpanogos). The policies are all positive, and are based upon a system of honor and integrity. There is no provision for acting upon any infractions by persons unwilling to follow the policies as defined. Hopefully there will be no need to write enforcement policies. There will be some confusion at first, but please bear with the problems.

Copyright  2004 Timpanogos Grotto

Maintained by Jon Jasper - last updated 1/27/2002


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