2020 Luminary Series – Bill Balfour

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While visiting relatives in Kentucky as a 13-year-old youngster, Bill Balfour—with his dad and uncle—drove over to Mammoth Cave. Balfour was particularly fascinated by the Rotunda and begged the adults for another commercial tour. Bill was entranced and soon bought every book about caves that he could find. During Spring Break in 1968, Bill Balfour and a friend did a productive trip to West Virginia. They entered the Lipps entrance to Organ Cave and climbed at Seneca Rocks. With topographic maps and a copy of William Davies’ classic Caverns of West Virginia in hand, the team was also able to locate Cass, Culverson Creek, Schoolhouse, and other great caves. West Virginia now firmly in his heart, Balfour began his long association with the West Virginia Association for Cave Studies (WVACS) and with the West Virginia Speleological Survey (WVASS). Bill has co-authored a pair of WVASS bulletins, computerized the West Virginia cave database, and has served as President, Chairman of the Board, and a Director of WVACS. As an aspiring architect at the initial explosion of his caving career, Bill could draw. As such, he became extremely interested in surveying and was only too glad to keep book, do the in-cave sketching, and draft the resulting map. His output is prolific — several hundred maps of caves both large and small. Recalling the most productive part of his caving career, Bill Balfour estimates that perhaps 90-percent of his trips were involved with surveying. One of Bill’s favorite locations is the Culverson Creek Cave System. The historic entrance to this cavern is located near the tiny community of Unus, West Virginia. Balfour jokes that he became so enchanted with Unus that he bought the town. In fact, Bill does own a beautiful farm in the area and, each year, many cavers park on his property while visiting Culverson Creek. A short walk from his house is what is now known as the Balfour-Hinkle-Unus Entrance to the cave, and Bill owns that too. And, across the way is the Wild Cat Entrance to Culverson Creek.

2020 Luminary Series – Bill Balfour

June 1, 2020

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