Index · Caballo Cave, Sep 2005

Trip Report: Fort Stanton Cave / Lincoln Caverns, 17 Oct 2004

NMT Caving Club,

Trip leader: Jim Cox

Attending: David and Karl

Lincoln Caverns is a subsection of Fort Stanton Cave. Access is through Babb's Burrow, which is located at southern end of Gypsum Hall, which itself is on the southern section of the old Fort Stanton Cave tourist map. Until the 2001 discovery of Snowy River, Lincoln Caverns was both the most remote and the best decorated section of Fort Stanton Cave. Discovered August 9th, 1969, by Lee Skinner, Dennis Engle, Chuck Ridpath, and Elbert Bassham, it has always been closed to the general public. Which is why it is not on the above map. Access is controlled by Agave Gate, located in Babb's Burrow. Thanks to the access restrictions & the remote location, Lincoln Caverns has remained well preserved.

In 2004, Jim Cox received permission to lead a small group into Lincoln Caverns for photography and video. The primary goal was documenting the condition of the aragonite bushes and checking if any were damaged or missing. Karl and David were invited along to achieve the 3 person minimum group size and to introduce new cavers to that section of the cave.

For young cavers just getting started, Lincoln Caverns was a spectacular place to visit.

One of the many views in Lincoln Caverns.

Shown here is Karl in his caving coveralls. Not helping his resemblance to an escaped prisoner, "will cave for food" was written on the back of the coveralls. Excepting this photograph, Karl took all of these photos. He got into cave photography well before David did, thus providing the oldest available digital photos of NMT Caving club trips. Some old film photos exist and there are plans to scan and post them as time allows.

Karl, who took most of these photos.

A rare photograph of David.

David and some formations.

There are several pool rims though the pools have long sense dried up. This is one of the smaller ones.

Karl wrung the most he could out of his Sony DSC-P73. Sadly, this was in the days of generally expensive flash cards, a camera requiring the pesky and annoyingly expensive Sony Memory Stick, and Karl being on a student budget. Result: most these photos were not even taken at the maximum resolution of the camera due to storage limitations!

A small pool rim.

Natural collapses sometimes destroy the formations.

A formation surrounded by fallen boulders.

In this case the natural collapses broke up a large slab of flowstone, exposing the various layers within. No, you can not date a formation simply by counting layers. The color is formed by impurities deposited along with the base material. These depend on the water and mineral sources which do not have a simple connection to the seasons far above.

Broken flowstone showing the various layers.

This flowstone formed on top of a layer of mud. It looks a lot like wax from a candle oozing down across the floor, but it is actually solid rock. Finding solid rock clearly deposited on top of mud is one of the many remarkable things that can be found caving.

Flowstone that formed on top of mud.

This formation seems to be a combination of cave popcorn, a stalagmite, a pool deposit, and cave velvet. David called it a cave rutabaga for lack of a better name, though that certainly is not an approved description.

A strange popcorn / stalagmite / pool deposit / cave velvet formation.

The primary purpose of this trip was to document the condition of the aragonite bushes and look for any evidence of missing formations. We found lots of aragonite trees but no evidence that any were missing.

The aragonite covered section of Lincoln Caverns.

The best of the aragonite bushes, which measures in at a few inches. Lechugilla cavers laugh at the Fort Stanton aragonite bushes, with good reason.

A nice aragonite busy

At the end of Lincoln Caverns is Tiger Tail Room, named for its banded stalactites. These stalactites have a series of dark circular bands presumably caused by changing water levels. After the grander formations in the rest of Lincoln Caverns these are do not feel quite so impresive, but they are still worth visiting if you ever have the chance.


Some of the other stalactites in Tiger Tail Room are also quite nice. Though, at a few inches to a foot in length, their small size is a bit of a let down.

Formations in Tiger Tail room.

More formations in Lincoln caverns.

After the relative splendor of Lincoln Caverns, even the hidden selenite grass is just not nearly impressive. Though it is nice in its own unique way.

A grass-like formation of selenite crystals.

Index · Caballo Cave, Sep 2005

Last Updated: Jan 2018; Original Posting.

All photos © Karl Haase, 2004
Trip report © David C. Hunter, 2018

nmtcaver {at) dragonsdawn (dot] org

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