CABLE – Cave Adventures LLC is a new, family-owned company offering primitive tours of a cave system in Cable that only about 100 people have ever been inside. For $90 per person, groups of two to six people may descend the 33 foot ladder to the subterranean loop where they will walk, crawl and climb for two to three hours.
“Everybody’s that come out of there is ecstatic about it, because a lot of folks have been through typical, walk-through caves,” said Susan Tehan, a part-owner and tour guide along with her husband and son, Ryan. “All of us have, and were in awe. But, when they come out of this cave, it’s a whole different story. It’s something you just can’t believe, because you’re seeing it in its own, natural state. Nothing has changed; you are the true pioneer.”
The cave – located at 3781 Slate Stone Road – is still being mapped, but guests travel a set loop that takes 2-3 hours to traverse depending on party size, and exit from the same point where they enter. Once inside, Ryan Tehan says guests are treated to an adventure and sights which they will not find anywhere else.
“You’re gonna crawl, climb, see beautiful stalactites and stalagmites, there’s flow-stone,” he said. “We have a lot of rare stalactites and stalagmites that are not found in a lot of caves, especially in our area. We have a lot of unique things that are the same as Ohio Caverns. A lot of the things are the same, but we have a lot of things that they don’t have. It’s very highly decorated. When you go through there you’ll find a couple places where you have to crawl for a couple feet, and then the next place you come to has 14 foot ceilings. There’s a little bit of everything, you get a little muddy, you get a little wet, it’s an adventure.”
Guests to the cave sign a basic insurance waiver, although the Tehan’s aren’t concerned about hazards within the cave. The biggest safety issue they see is the possibility of someone slipping as they descend the ladder, which is why each visitor is equipped with a safety harness they can unclip once they are at the bottom.
“Caves are one of the safest places on earth,” said Ryan. “If they weren’t, they would not be as beautiful as they are, because it takes thousands of years to develop these fragile structures. Our cave can never flood … because we’re at one of the higher points in Ohio. Our concerns, if anything should happen, would be a slip or if somebody had a medical condition. We don’t anticipate it being dangerous and anything to worry about.”
West Liberty EMS has also done training inside the caves and plans to go back on a regular basis, just in case someone does need help. Cavers must be at least 15 years old, but the Tehans say they have had visitors as old as their late 60s venture through the cave with no issues.
Guests to the cave are also equipped with helmets that have lights attached to them, because without them the cave is completely dark. Guests are also recommended to wear clothing that survive getting muddy, ideally that is waterproof – although the deepest water in the cave is only calf-high. Cavers must also wear boots; no smooth soled shoes, such as tennis shoes, are allowed.
Another aspect of cave safety involved the preservation of the cave itself, so guests are encouraged to always watch the person in front of them to ensure that they don’t break off a cave feature that took hundreds of years to form.
“They’re everywhere,” said Ryan. “It is just highly, highly decorated, and the last thing we want to do is destroy any part of the cave. We’re here for the preservation of the cave, so we’re just very careful anytime we take anyone down there.”
According to the Tehan family, this is the only primitive cave in Ohio, with only a handful of others throughout the United States that do not have guided, walking paths. Ryan Tehan described the original entrance as just a hole five feet underground next to a club of trees, but by the time they opened for business in September they had put concrete around the entrance to keep it more secure, and put a wooden building around it.
“We plan on staying a primitive tour, although we do plan hopefully to build a bigger gift shop and do some things like that, but keep this the cave entrance room,” said Ryan. “At this time we have no plans to do anything else, it’s strictly a primitive tour. We’re looking for the guy that wants a little more adventure. Anybody can walk through a lot of the caves out there. This is more like you’re discovering it.”
The cave was first discovered in about 1964, and many locals have stories about being in the cave before it was opened to the public. When the Tehans bought the property in 2004 and first started exploring the cave they found a bucket at the base of the shaft that now hangs above the service desk in the cave entrance room.
“For a long time we were letting people know what number they were to crawl through the cave,” said Ryan. “We suspect there have been a handful of people breaking in through a small hole open to the public. As for how many people total, we don’t know for sure.”
Tehan said that the family worked closely with Ohio Caverns to prepare the tour, but that it would be impossible to find a connection between the two cave systems.
“It wouldn’t be a part of the same cave system as Ohio Caverns,” he said. “There’s a big fault line right here where the glaciers went though. It’s not the same system but the makeup of the cave is the same. This cave couldn’t ever connect to Ohio Caverns, but at one time, before the glaciers went through, it could have been. We’re only about one half mile apart as the crow flies, but this creek between us separates us across the valley.
“Ohio Caverns helped us the whole way,” he added. “They’ve been good friends of the family for years. They send people our way. They can’t give the tour we’re giving, and we can’t give the tour they’re giving.”
For more information or to schedule a tour, visit www.caveadventuresllc.com or call 937-772-1260.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304