Phil Lucas

Phil Lucas’ underground exploits are legion and include extensive poking, prodding, digging, excavating, exploring, and surveying in the Water Sinks area. This fascinating karst region is located in Highland County, Virginia; positioned at the north end of Burnsville Cove; the site of the Lucas retirement house; and the place where Phil first met his high school sweetheart, Charlotte. The Lucas-led initiative at Water Sinks resulted in many miles of fabulous cave being discovered, explored, and surveyed. In addition, a nature trail was developed in order to educate school groups and other members of the public about the value of caves as a resource. Deeming it appropriate to memorialize the vast amount of work done in the area, Phil Lucas published Caves and Karst of the Water Sinks Area, and he received a Certificate of Merit from the NSS for the result.

Phil is an accomplished and award-winning photographer and cartographer. Always curious about subterranean water flow routes, Lucas has performed dye traces—some of which have charted underground streams flowing beneath surface rivers. Phil’s associated interest in air currents spawned a unique method for measuring air flow between cave entrances. Working with collaborators Nevin Davis and Frank Marks, this procedure was published under the title “A Method for Detecting Cave Connections by Inducted Air Flow.” Phil has also had a long-term interest in the Culverson Creek area. Believing that the earlier surveys could be improved, Lucas—along with Bill Royster and others—spent a decade pushing and mapping in the Culverson Creek complex. When these cavers were done, Phil—in company with Bill Balfour and George Dasher—authored The Caves and Karst of the Culverson Creek Basin. This tome is populated with historic photographs, detailed maps, and a boatload of adventure.