Richard Blenz Nature Preserve
Monroe County, Indiana
Located in southern Indiana, the 43-acre property contains the entrance to Buckner Cave and its three miles of passages. The preserve, which is managed by the Richard Blenz Conservancy, also includes an entrance to Queen Blair Cave and several other smaller caves and karst features. A massive 2.5-year graffiti removal effort using sandblasting was undertaken from April 2006 through October 2008 to help restore the cave to its natural state. Graffiti removal and general cleanup continues at a smaller scale. In 2013 volunteers erected a pavilion on the site of the old barn using lumber milled from trees on the property.
In 1962, Richard Blenz purchased the property. Shortly after the property was opened to the public people. Because no one was physically living on the property much the cave and land fell victim to abuse and vandalism. In 2005, a conservancy was formed to manage the property and vigorous cleanup efforts were implemented.
Historically, the Blair Family owned much of the surrounding property in the mid 1800s. Evidence near the cave entrance indicates that Saltpeter mining may have occurred in Buckner Cave. It may also have been used as a station for the Underground Railroad during Civil War era. Historical signatures from the 1700s and 1800s have been found and preserved during ongoing cleanup efforts. Remnants from settlements in the area can also be found on the property.