Telford Spring

Telford Map









photo by Michael Poucher

Excerpted from "Dorado Chasm", Sheck Exley

Telford Spring is named after the Reverend William B. Telford who homesteaded the land surrounding the spring in the mid 1800's. In addition to the headspring shown above, there are two additional sinkholes that connect to the system within the first 500 feet: Telford Sink and Terrapin Sink or Dorado Chasm.  

First explored in the 1960's, the spring and Telford Sink were connected by John Harper (NSS 8352).  Sheck (NSS 13146) and Edward Exley may have been the first to connect Terrapin Sink in 1968.  They saw that it continued upstream, but appeared to be too narrow to pass through.  In the 1970's, Court Smith (NSS 15394) and Lewis Holtzendorff (NSS 14831) looked again at Telford and were able to push a short way upstream of Terrapin, but were stopped by the "Mud Flats", a very low, wide, silty area that guaranteed zero visibility if disturbed.

So, Telford was written off as a small and insignificant cave with no potential for new exploration.  That is until 1976 when Sheck Exley was called about a possible drowning.  He, along with Terry More (NSS 15798), Ken Hillier (NSS 17589), and Forrest Wilson (NSS 16631), made repeated dives, but were unable to find the victim.  However, they did manage to find a way through the Mud Flats and found going cave passage.

It was almost a year later, August 23, 1977,  before Sheck returned to Telford to continue exploration with Paul Smith (NSS 14385).  Over the next two months, Telford was explored to 3,512 feet from Terrapin Sink.  At that time, this made Telford a longer penetration than the Devils Eye system (3330') and second only to Manatee (4110'). Terrapin was given the code name "Dorado Chasm" during the exploration to keep some semblance of secrecy. 

The cave ended at the "Aardvark Room", a silty breakdown room with impossibly small leads.  After plotting the cave on a topo map, a sinkhole was identified that corresponded to the Aardvark Room and it was believed that the continuing passage was choked off.

Exploration continued by other divers who probed the side tunnels of Telford Spring.  One diver, Roger Werner, found the missing diver from 1976 in a small side tunnel off  "The Rifts" and prompted a new legend of the "Ghost of  Telford".  A way was found around the Aardvark Room and eventually was connected to Luraville Springs, 6743 feet away, by Lamar Hires, Woody Jasper, and Tom Morris. (NACD Journal, Vol. 21, No. 6, p. 69, Nov 1989)

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