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UTAH - TIMPANOGOS GROTTO OF THE N.S.S.
RED BARON CAVE HISTORY
Reprinted from Technical Note #2, Timpanogos Grotto NSS, Sept 1975.
Red Baron Cave
By Kevin Allred

Formed in Gardison limestone, the cave is quite different from nearby Spanish Moss Cave which is in younger Deseret limestone. Red Baron lacks the large aragonite crystals of the type found in Spanish Moss Cave, but has extremely large helectites (possibly largest in Utah). It also has formations with superb photo luminescent characteristics. When flashed with an electronic strobe, they have the ability to glow for several seconds.

The cave was first discovered in 1972 by Bennett LeBaron and Kevin Allred after about two months of routine hole checking in the area. Entry was gained only after digging out 35 feet of breathing crawlway. The job took several weeks of random afternoons and Saturdays. After finally getting in, they explored most of the cave and after a year sealed the opening and- didn't ever tell anyone the location-not even the Timpanogos Grotto.

In 1974 two cavers from the BYU Alpine Club noticed signs of digging and entered the cave, The word about the cave got out and a gate is now necessary to protect the cave,

The initial 35 foot crawlway is broken about 20 feet in by a shallow 10 foot diameter room. There is a crawlway and another small room to the east, but the main cave lies to the south at the end of the remaining 15 feet of crawlway. After entering a 20 foot diameter decorated room having a ceiling 3-5 feet high, a short crawlway leads under some soda straws in an westerly direction. A large, slanting, well-decorated room is entered. Another crawlway leads upwards from this room and has not been fully explored. A

6-8 inch long helectite which resembles an upside down "Delicate Arch" as in Arches National Park, hangs off the ceiling in this crawl. By returning back to the first 20 foot diameter room entered, the main cave is reached by passing by a large, white formation resembling cow udders. A tender crawl leads under low hanging stalactites and over fragile rimstone dams Note: This touchy crawl may be avoided by taking a shorter crawl from the upper, eastern portion of the slanting room Both crawlways connect into a large tube-like solution passage with the first portion well decorated Speleothems here include rimstone dams, stalactites and mites, soda straws, cave pearls, drapery, flowstone, popcorn, and helectites. The largest helectite in the cave is here, and the 1 1/2 foot long by 2 inch diameter snake-like form resembles a dragon There are also some fantastic white calcite covered roots 3-4 feet long. Because of a slight resemblance, these roots were named "Carlene's Hair." The main tube-like passage continues on until breakdown, some 100 feet further.

The lower part of the cave is entered via a crawl just below Carlene's Hair." The crawl follows a 600 down grade slope for 30-40 feet to a large breakdown block which hangs precariously over a 60 foot rappel into the largest room in the cave which is 20 feet high. A small, well decorated room may be entered using a guided crawl under some helectites. This crawl is about 25 feet from a short squeezeway which enters a super small room. This room is named the "cell" because if you can't get out, there is a small connecting solution tube in which visitors to the cave can throw food scraps and banana peels etc. to the trapped.

By scrambling over some breakdown to the south, another 10 foot round passage is followed down at about 300 until it is nearly filled with clay at the lowest point in the cave, which is -76 feet. Bennett and Kevin started but didn't finish digging it out. This passage could lead somewhere if one would take the time to dig it out.

Trogladites in the cave include bushy tailed wood rats and cave crickets.

In the clay filled passage, a wood rat's nest was found with the owner's collection of 7 rat skulls and various types of bones. Large bone fragments were also found deeply imbedded into flowstone in the slanting room, and at the bottom of the rappel. Most of the cave crickets are in the rooms near the entrance.

Because of the extremely delicate nature of the cave, the author recommends a maximum of three in each visiting party Because of the proximity of many of the formations, a helmet should not be worn in the cave.

The Timpanogos Grotto, a local chapter of the National Speleological Society, is now installing a gate to protect this unique cave. At the gate site some old, weathered out boxwork covers some ceiling,

Some of the studies that should be done on this cave are:

Calcified roots, helectites, age and formation of, photo luminescence, and the reason for some of the green colored formations. A partially petrified section of the upper jaw of a large mammal was in the entrance portion. This was further identified as Antilocapra americana. Why a Pronghorn would range that far away from its open plains or desert environment is a mystery. Amore complete and systematic historical study might explain this.

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Maintained by Jon Jasper - last updated 1/21/2002

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