Welcome to The Carbide Caver. Through the years, the carbide caplamp has been known as a symbol of caving, and until recent years, it was the most popular form of underground lighting by far. However, carbide caplamps are becoming less and less frequently seen underground. Production has dropped enough that new lamps have almost disapeared from the caving market. This website was designed to help newer cavers get introduced to the world of carbide caving. However, this site will give little attention to belt-generator styles of acetylene "ceiling burners" since they are still widely produced and easily obtainable. The Carbide Caver will help you find a lamp, help determine a reasonable price, tell you where to find repair parts, and how to keep the lamp operational. Credits are given to all non-original graphics, and a general bibliography is provided. All original graphics are by Kara Hodge.

Annotated Bibliography:

Clemmer, Gregg S. American Miner's Carbide Lamps, (Westernlore Press: Tuscon, AZ), 1987.

This book is an excellent resource with a valuable history of the carbide lamp. It also provides tables and charts showing the evolution of the carbide lamp. The book's small size makes it more manageable than Pohs' book, and is designed to give an overview, without the danger of overburdening the reader with detail. This book is available through The NSS Bookstore.

McClurg, David R. Exploring Caves: A guide to the Underground Wilderness, (Stakcpole Books: Harrisburg, PA), 1980.

This is an extensive work concerning many aspects of caving. There is quite a bit of detail on cave clothing and equipment, a moderate amount on techniques, and a large portion of the work dedicated to vertical caving and cave climbing. Being over 20 years old, Exploring Caves is a dated source. Much of the information is not reliable because of technological advances. However, being from the age when 80% of the North American caving community used carbide lamps, this book has quite a bit of useful information in that area.

McClurg, David R. The Amateur's Guide to Caves and Caving, (Stakcpole Books: Harrisburg, PA), 1973.

Also a dated source, but because the book has more of an emphasis on proper caving techniques, and less emphasis on equipment, it is still a good resource for cavers. The interest for this page is the section on carbide lamps. The book has much information not usually included in most contemporary books on caving because of the overwhelming popularity of carbide lamps at the time.

Pohs, Henry A. The Miner's Flame Light Book, (Flame Publishing Co.: Denver, CO), 1995.

This is THE definitive resource for carbide lamps or any other mining light. The book is most suited to the collector, rather than caver, but still contains much information that is valuable in restoring or maintaining a carbide lamp. If you are planning on purchasing a lamp through eBay, or from a dealer that does not know one type of lamp from another, this book is an absolute must read. This book is available through The NSS Bookstore.

Davis, Donald. "The Carbide Lamp" in Caving Basics Third Edition p. 5-13. Rea, Thomas. [Ed.], (National Speleological Society: Huntsville, AL), 1993.

This is a standard text for anyone beginning involvement in serious caving. It includes information on how to prepare for a cave trip, how to contact a local grotto, how to read a cave map, and other vital information for the neophyte. The section on carbide lamps is highly valuable. The section goes into detail on qualities of individual lamp brands, lamp repair, lamp care, and plenty of useful information on carbide caving. This book is available through The NSS Bookstore.

Speleo Neo Anarchist Grotto. Spring 2000 MVOR Guidebook, 2000.

Mississippi Valley Ozark Region of the National Speleological Society has two caving conferences each year. This is the guidebook from one of the caving conventions. It contains mostly maps and humorous tidbits that S.N.A.G. (though not literally a grotto) has tossed in. K.R.'s Karbide Kwiz appears here.

Mike Fraley
NSS# 45712
Updated December 7, 2005

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