Management Plan for Haynes Cave Preserve

Cavers traverse the old mining bridges built in Haynes Cave. (Photo by Cliff Lindsay)


The West Virginia Cave Conservancy (WVCC), a non-profit, West Virginia Corporation, was gifted Haynes Cave, along with approximately 19.9 acres of surrounding property, from the previous owner, Fred Grady, in 2012. This cave is located about on the plateau 0.8 miles south-southeast of the community of Patton in Monroe County, West Virginia.

Access to all the major cave systems in Monroe County are potentially threatened by the rapid population growth and development of the area, and by increasing liability concerns. WVCC has a goal of maintaining access to Haynes Cave, and to as many of the other major systems in West Virginia as possible. Haynes Cave offers outstanding scientific and educational opportunities. WVCC will manage the Haynes Cave to maximize these opportunities.


Haynes Cave has been known to Europeans since the late 18th century, when mining operations for saltpetre apparently began. Fossil bones found at this time (reportedly by saltpetre miners) were presented by President Thomas Jefferson to the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia in 1797 a paper on “Certain Bones” where he theorized that the bones represented the remains of a lion which he named Megalonyx, which means “giant claw.” These bones subsequently were described as Megalonyx jeffersonii, a giant ground sloth, by Dr. Caspar Wistar in honor of Jefferson. Megalonyx now is the official “state fossil” of West Virginia.

While Fred Grady owned the cave, he found additional bone fragments of Megalonyx, confirming Haynes Cave as the site of the bones described by Jefferson. Fred also collected numerous fossil remains of small rodents from Haynes Cave that gave insight into paleoclimates as well as species distributions during the ice ages.

Extensive saltpetre mining also occurred during America’s Civil War, and traces of that activity still can be seen in several places, including some miners’ tally marks on the cave wall opposite the windlass. Unfortunately, time and vandalism have erased many of these, most notably a dripstone-encrusted saltpetre trough that once was perched on a formation only about 100 feet in from the entrance. Also, in at least one part of the cave, miners enlarged the passage from a crawlway to a high stoopway, apparently to ease the passage of men and materials.

In recent times, this cave has attracted a lot of local traffic that also has resulted in considerable damage to the cave as well as to historic artifacts. Consequently, in 2015, the cave has been gated in an attempt to protect what remains.

Fred Grady, the previous cave owner who donated it to the WVCC, sits next to a replica winch. (Photo by Cliff Lindsay)

Cave Resources

This cave is on the West Virginia Significant Cave List for biology, history, paleontology, and recreation.

Haynes Cave, once also known as Burwell Cave, is an historically significant cave in Monroe County. Formed in the Patton Limestone, it has more than 4,200 feet of surveyed passage with a depth of 147 feet. It is an excellent and significant site for seeing remnants of old saltpeter workings. Throughout much of the cave, passages average 10 to 15 feet in height and 10 feet in width, but at one place what once had been a crawlway was deepened to stoopway proportions, likely by saltpeter miners. The only other significant low spot is near the end of the cave, where a short and very dusty belly crawl leads to the Signature Room. Here the walls and ceiling literally are covered with signatures and comments left by visitors. Unfortunately, this practice, now very much frowned upon, does not seem to have stopped.

Except for the first 100 feet near the entrance, the cave is very dry and dusty with the floor of the upper passage made of dusty clay mixed with gypsum and considerable quantities of rat and bat manure. Few formations remain in the cave because of its dryness. The only living formation, a volcano-shaped stalagmite, is encountered about 100 feet into the cave. When rainfall has been plentiful, drips from the ceiling form a shallow pool at its base. Years ago, there was a saltpeter trough encrusted with flowstone on top of this formation. A photo of it appears in William E. Davies’ Caverns of West Virginia (1958). In many places, gypsum flowers and other structures can be found on passage walls, but because they are dust-covered, they may be overlooked. These also have been vandalized in several places.

The cave is developed on two levels that intersect each other at several points. At some of these where the lower passage is directly beneath the upper one, crude plank bridges have been constructed. The last one, encountered just before the register room, is the most elaborate; if you go underneath it, you can see some of the timbers are lashed together with what appears to be long strips of bark. Care needs to be taken crossing these bridges, and no more than one person should cross at a time.

There is a drop well inside the cave that has a windlass over it. Vertical gear is required to reach additional cave passage that reportedly is quite narrow and gnarly. The rope on the windlass found here should NOT be used!

Surface Resources

The surface resources will be maintained in as near natural state as possible, based upon the needs of the conservancy.

A caver admires at the Birthday Cake Formation in Haynes Cave. (Photo by Cliff Lindsay)

Publicity Policy

WVCC will publicize the Haynes Cave Preserve only to the extent necessary to accomplish our mission goals. Publicity of details and location information will only be available within the established caving community. Publicity available to the general public will be limited to information needed to promote our educational and scientific goals. In the event of a rescue at the cave, WVCC will make every effort to minimize media coverage, especially any location information.


The Board of Directors has established a management committee to implement and monitor this management plan. The Board will be responsible for any plan changes. The management committee will report to the Board on the status of the preserve, with any recommendations for changes to this plan.

The management committee will be responsible for monitoring the following rules controlling use of the preserve:

1. No camping or fires will be permitted at this time.
2. All trash and human waste must be packed out.
3. ATV’s, dirt bikes, and snowmobiles are not permitted on the preserve.
4. Collection of rocks, flora, fauna, etc. on the surface is prohibited. Any collection underground must be done in accordance with West Virginia laws, which require a permit from the state, based in part on permission from the Board. The Board will approve such requests on an individual basis, based on scientific need.
5. No placement of permanent bolts or anchors is allowed. No other defacement of the cave is allowed.
6. Parking is allowed only in designated areas.
7. No hunting will be allowed on the property. No fireworks or firearms will be allowed on the property.
8. No commercial activity, including cave-for-pay, will be allowed on the property.
9. Visitors’ conduct should conform to National Speleological Society conservation guidelines, and to NSS Safety and Techniques Committee recommendations.
10. Visitors are expected to comply with all applicable state and federal laws.

The gated entrance to Haynes Cave. (Photo by Ashley Hitchcock)

Access Policy

The cave is gated. The cave will be maintained in an “open” condition to visitors, regardless of any organizational affiliation, provided that at least one responsible caver over the age of 18 is included. No cave-for-pay or any other activity “for pay” is allowed. Advance notification of visitation to the cave will be required, since the entrance is locked.


There are two parking areas for Haynes Cave. The first one is at the top of the rise where Moore Road changes from a gravel surface to dirt; there are farm gates on both sides of the road there. Vehicles must be parked so as not to block any of the gates or the road itself as locals still use it; mostly with ATVs. This calls for strategic positioning, as there is scarcely room for two full-sized vehicles.

The second parking area is a couple of hundred yards down Moore Road, where one can pull off to the right. There is room for about three vehicles there, but the road getting there is heavily rutted with bedrock exposures. AWD/4WD and high clearance (at least 10”) is recommended, especially in wet weather.

Carpooling usually can be done either at the Lebanon Church parking lot at the intersection of US 291 and Neff Orchard Road or at the store/gas station at Pickaway.

Property Mananger

The Property Manager of Haynes Cave is Ed Saugstad. You may contact him at for information about the preserve such as, permission, gate combo and directions.

Permission to enter the cave is granted by the discretion of the Property Manager.

A growing formation in Haynes Cave. (Photo by Ed Saugstad)

A caver in a crawl way of Haynes Cave. (Photo by Chris Coates)