The History

of the

Meramec Valley Grotto

of the

National Speleological Society.

The History of The Meramec Valley Grotto of The National Speleological Society, by Tom Cravens

The Meramec Valley Grotto (MVG) began on the campus of the St. Louis Community College at Meramec in the spring of 1968 as an extension of a student organization called the Meramec Athletic Club. The primary purpose of the Meramec Athletic Club was that of providing organized recreational activities for students at the college. Several of the members of the Meramec Athletic Club developed a strong interest in caving and formed a student organization specifically devoted to caving and called the organization the Meramec Speleological Association. The Meramec Speleological Association had a nucleus of between 10 and 15 students and became officially recognized as a student organization in the fall of 1968. Throughout the next year several individuals who were not students started participating in the Association's activities.

In the fall of 1969 the Dean of Continuing Education contacted Tom Cravens who was serving as the faculty advisor of the Meramec Speleological Association and asked him if he would be willing to develop an evening continuing education course on Caves and Caving. Caves and Caving was offered by the St. Louis Community College in the spring semester of 1970. More than 25 student enrolled in the course and approximately 80% of the enrollment was made up of individuals who were not regularly enrolled college students. After the conclusion of the course many of the non regular students continued to cave with the Meramec Speleological Association.

In the spring of 1970 the Meramec Speleological Association contacted William Mixon who was the chairman of the Internal Organization Committee of the National Speleological Society and requested to become affiliated with the National Speleological Society as a grotto. Since two regular NSS grottoes (Middle Mississippi Valley Grotto and Piasa Grotto) already existed in the St. Louis area the Internal Organizations Committee was reluctant to grant a charter to the organization with the status of a regular grotto. After considerable correspondence and over some objections William Mixon decided that the Meramec Valley Grotto should become a regular NSS Grotto. On July 20, 1970 the Meramec Valley Grotto became (Internal Organization no. G-184) an official NSS Grotto. The officers of MVG were Tom Cravens, President, Pete Gilster, Vice President Judy Rellergert, Secretary, and Duddley Smith, Treasurer. At that time MVG had some 19 charter members, 11 of whom were National Speleological Society members.

In 1971 Tom Cravens was elected to his second term as president of MVG. In 1971 MVG applied for membership in the Missouri Speleological Survey. On March 27, 1971 MVG was given membership in the Missouri Speleological Survey and Tom Cravens was the first MVG representative on the MSS Board of Directors. By January of 1971 the membership of the grotto had grown to 27 members, 19 of whom were NSS members. 1971 was a year in which MVG members became active in both speleology and cave conservation. Two MVG cavers, Paul Thenhaus and Frank Victor conducted an investigation into the level of "Water Pollution" in several caves and springs using the La Motte Chemical Co. water pollution detection kit. The most significant finding was that Kenrich Cave in St. Louis Co. had 2 ppm. of cyanide. The results of the research can be found in the Volume 13 Number 2 issue of MISSOURI SPELEOLOGY. On the conservation front the MVG began work on the installation of a cave gate at the entrance to Lone Hill Onyx cave near Meramec State Park. The gate was intended to reduce vandalism and limit traffic through the cave, was made of a 55 gal. drum with welded steel plates. The drum was preconstructed by Tom Cravens and then transported to the cave. A wall of natural stone was built to fill in the entrance around the drum. The construction of the wall was done by a dozen or so grotto members over two weekends. Leonard Butts played an important role with the Lone Hill Onyx Gate by negotiating with the State Park Board and developing what proved to be a very good and long term relationship between the MVG and the State Park Board. In 1971 George Jaegers became a member of MVG and became the editor of the MVG monthly newsletter the Meramec Caver. Although George was only involved with MVG for a period of a few years he was the first MVG member to become interested in the mapping of the Krueger-Dry run cave system. Although his attempt was crude and incomplete it did start the grotto on two decade involvement with the Krueger-Dry run cave system. In 1971 MVG had a Christmas trip to Mexico to do Gruta del Palmito etc.

In 1972 MVG continued to be active in a wide range of areas. Leonard Butts became the second president of the grotto. MVG sponsored it's first M.V.O.R. at Onondaga cave in the Spring of 1972 and it was a big success. Over 450 people attended (Cost $1.00 per person $2.50 per family). The Lester B. Dill award had its first recipient (Jerry Vineyard) at this M.V.O.R. In 1972 Tom Cravens was appointed to chair the NSS Public Relations Committee by the National Speleological Society president Rane Curl. A relatively new MVG member Scott Guyer had become interested in exploring Kruger-Dry run cave and was also in the process of developing the first MVG cave radio. Leonard Butts headed up an MVG dye tracing effort in several caves in the Meramec State Park area. Reports and maps on scores of caves had been produced by MVG members by this time. In the area of conservation MVG installed a drum type of gate on Rice cave in Jefferson Co. A very positive and fruitful landowner relationship was established with Mr. Jay Rice the owner of Rice cave. MVG established the Meramec Conservation Task Force of the National Speleological Society to work against the construction of the proposed Meramec Dam. The Meramec Conservation Task Force, which was established and chaired by Tom Cravens, was to play a significant role in shaping public opinion against the Meramec Dam. MVG members (Leonard Butts, Tom Cravens, Sue Hagen, Phil Nester, Judy Rellergert and Randy Lockwood) put together a publication entitled The Meramec an Endangered Heritage which described some of the negative environmental repercussions that would result from the construction of the Meramec Dam.

In 1973 Judy Rellergert became the third president of MVG. Work continued in opposition to the Meramec Dam. Tom Cravens was elected to serve as president of the MSS and Leonard Butts became MVG's director on the MSS board. MVG members along with SLUG (St. Louis University Grotto) helped organize the MERAMEC VALLEY SYMPOSIUM which was sponsored by the Missouri Speleological Survey as a public forum on the Meramec Dam. Seven papers discussing various aspects of the Meramec Valley were presented by members of the caving community (see MISSOURI SPELEOLOGY Volume 14 No. 1 for the proceedings of the symposium). The Grotto printed and distributed 1,000 NO MERAMEC DAM bumper stickers. MVG sponsored it's second (Fall) M.V.O.R. in 1973 at Illinois Caverns. An attempt at surpassing the Guinness Book of World Records for the world's largest pizza was made at this M.V.O.R. As it turned out a larger unpublished record had already been set and the pizza (13' X 5') turned out to be the World's second largest pizza. Pieces of the pizza were sold to help finance efforts to stop the Meramec Dam.

In 1974 Jane Fisher became the fourth president of MVG. In 1974 the first draft of a Proposed Missouri Cave Protection Law was developed by Tom Cravens as a result of his participation in a session on cave protection laws at the 1972 NSS Convention at White Salmon, WA. Tom was able to get then State representative Stan Piekarski to sponsor and introduce the bill (#HB1708) into the Missouri House of Representatives. In 1981 after many difficult battles and lots of changes over several years a law (578.200 to 578.225 The Missouri Cave Resources Act) did come into being. At the NSS convention in 1974 Tom Cravens became the first MVG member to become a "Fellow" in the NSS. Randy Lockwood lead the MVG team which discovered Millard Fillmore Cave. Exploration and mapping of the Krueger-Dry run cave system, principally under the leadership of Scott Guyer, was making significant gains. The Grotto Christmas party was held at Jane Fishers house. The Missouri Conservationist published an article "Our Fly-By-Night Friends" written by Tom Cravens which dealt with some of the problems facing bats in Missouri.

In 1975 Eric Telmer became the fifth president of MVG. (MVG annual membership dues were $5.00 per year and NSS dues were $10.00 per year) 1975 saw the continued grotto efforts to stop the Meramec Dam. The Rice Cave Gate was broken and had to be repaired. The cave gate on Lone Hill Onyx cave also had to be repaired in 1975. Liz Craft conducted a Dye test in wet cave in Washington Co. Scott Guyer was manufacturing and selling rechargeable electric lights. Sue Hagen acquired the Grotto's first "Caving Dog" wolfgang. Eric Telmer took over the editorship of the Meramec Caver. MVG became involved in the National Speleological Society Cave Register program and placed several registers in caves in the Meramec Valley area. Dan Griffiths and Liz Craft were the leaders of the cave register program. The mapping in the Kruerger-Dry run cave system was making significant progress since Mick Sutton had joined up with Scott Guyer. Scott Guyer and Mick Sutton also became involved in surveying in Great Scott cave in Washington Co. Grotto Members Chuck Malone and Rose Bucher got married.

In 1976 Eric Telmer was elected to his second term as president of MVG. Members of MVG surveyed Millard Fillmore cave in Franklin Co. near the Bourbeuse river in 1976. The Constitution of the Grotto was amended in 1976 to conform to various I.R.S. provisions. In 1976 an awards committee was established to present various awards to MVG members who made contributions to caving and MVG. MVG purchased a certificate of appreciation for presentation by the MSS to State representative Stan Piekarski for his efforts on the Cave Protection Bill (the Bill still has more than 5 years to go before a law goes into effect). Members of MMV and MVG (John Schwartz MVG & MMV, Scott House MVG & MMV Leonard Butts MVG, John Marsalek MVG, Mick Sutton MVG) teamed up to survey Nameless cave. Nameless cave with over 13,000 feet of passage became the longest in Crawford Co. Survey work on Kruerger-Dry run continued as did efforts to Stop The Meramec Dam. Missouri Governor Bond indicated that he would ask the Missouri General Assembly to put the Meramec Dam issue before the voters. Mick Sutton continued to lead exploration and survey efforts in Great Scott Cave. Earl Biffle lead MVG's first "Wind Tasting Tour". At the Start of 1976 Tom Cravens was the MVG director for the MSS. Later in 1976 Leonard Butts became MVG's MSS director. Still later in 1976 MVG member Leonard Butts was elected MSS president. When Leonard Butts became MSS president Mick Sutton became MVG's MSS director. Tom Cravens was appointed to Chair the National Speleological Society membership Committee. MVG has, by this time, developed a long standing tradition of weekly caving trips. Cavers would just show up at the parking lot of the St. Louis Community College at Meramec on Sunday morning and go caving.

In 1977 Chuck Malone became the sixth MVG president. The grotto has been working for several years with the Missouri Department of Conservation to come up with a Management plan for Lone Hill Onyx Cave. Soon the cave gate on Lone Hill Onyx cave would be removed. The members of the Grotto repaired the gate on Rice cave which once again had been broken. Mick Sutton and Scott Guyer employ wet suits to survey in Krueger-Dry run while cold snow melt water lowers the water temperature of the cave to near freezing. MVG had it's 7th annual Inner tube float down the Meramec river in 1977. Grotto Member Tom Cravens was elected to serve on the National Speleological Society Board of Directors. Grotto members Mick Sutton and Sue Hagan become husband and wife.

In 1978 Scott Guyer became the seventh president of MVG. Scott Guyer continued to work on the "Cave Radio". Mick Sutton completes drafting the map of the Kruger Dry run cave system. The map shows in considerable detail 12,340 feet of passage in a very challenging cave. Virginia Day (who is an R.N.)conducts a series of First Aid Courses for MVG members. The Rice Cave Gate was once again broken and the members of MVG made yet another trip to repair the gate. The St. Louis Post Dispatch of Feb, 14 1978 did a feature article on the Cave Protection Law MVG cavers Tom Cravens and Leonard Butts were quoted extensively in the article. Grotto members John and Faith Marasalek were married. The May 1978 issue of the Meramec Caver contained a series of "candidate platforms" indicating the existence of some controversy in the grotto. The Meramec Dam Referendum was held on Aug. 8, 1978 and the Meramec Dam was finally stopped. The NSS Board of Governors meeting was held in St. Louis in October of 1978 and MVG and MMV helped in putting it together. 1978 ended with a joint MVG & MMV Christmas party.

In 1979 Bill Roswit became the eighth president of MVG. Representative Stan Piekarski introduced the Cave Protection act of 1979. The Rice Cave Gate was broken and in need of a repair. The Meramec Caver editorship passes from Eric Telmer to Chuck and Rose Malone. Although the Meramec Dam had been defeated in the referendum it was still on the books and needed to be deauthorized by congress. The members of MVG made telephone calls and wrote letters to help deauthroization happen.

In 1980 Rose Malone became the ninth president of MVG. Leonard Butts was the MVG representative on the MSS Board. The Grotto sent a donation to the Shriners Hospital in memory Of Lester B. Dill who died in 1980. Leonard Butts was leading grotto mapping trips to Cold Springs cave. Scott Guyer continues to explore in Krueger cave. A new MASSIVE Gate (designed by Don Rimbach) was installed on Rice cave. This gate was 2 1/2 times as thick as the old gate. MVG member Dave Copio passed away in 1980. MMV and MVG have another joint Christmas party.

In 1981 MVG had 31 members and Leonard Butts the second president was again elected to become the tenth president of the grotto. MVG & MMV members Pam Burns and Jerry Saberton got married. Laura Jones a new grotto member took over the editorship of the Meramec Caver from Chuck and Rose Malone. For several months Bill McConnaughy assisted Laura Jones as a co-editor. In October of 1981 Leonard Butts resigned as MVG's MSS director because his views on a proposed administrative change in the structure in the MSS were in opposition to the views of the grotto. Leonard also resigned as the president of MVG and Virginia Day moved from the Vice President to become the eleventh president of MVG. Jerry Saberton (Who was at the time President of MMV) was elected to be MVG's MSS director. Scott Guyer leads a Grotto Christmas trip to Mexico.

In 1982 Lois Bronnert becomes the twelfth president of MVG. MVG's Scott Guyer made a big venture into caving capitalism by starting up "The NI-CAD Shop". Scott sold custom built rechargeable batteries to cavers. In 1982 MVG had 32 members, 19 of whom were NSS members. Lois Bronnert was leading grotto members in the mapping of Goose Creek cave. Laura Jones was attempting to gain access to Cherokee Cave. MVG member Adam Marty began what was to become a very successful exploration of the karst area of South St. Louis in the Cliff Cave area.

In 1983 Lois Bronnert was elected to serve a second term as MVG president. Richard Pirrin took over the editorship of the Meramec Caver from Laura Jones. Lois Bronnert was leading mapping efforts in Parker Cave and Adam Marty was exploring and mapping Cave of the Falls in St. Louis Co. MVG put in a bid to host the Spring 1984 M.V.O.R. and the bid was triumphant. Paul Mills and Lois Bronnert headed up the preparation efforts for the M.V.O.R.. In 1983 Dave Neff took over the position of MVG's MSS director from Jerry Saberton.

In 1984 Deb Dumont was elected to become the thirteenth president of MVG. As of January 1984 MVG had 34 members. Several grotto members (John Kessler, Laura Jones, Paul Mills, Deb Dumont and Earl Hancock) began to work on developing and improving their vertical skills. Several vertical caving trips would go to both Arkansas and Mexico this year. MVG hosted the Spring 1984 M.V.O.R. April 27-29 at the Lion's Den campground in Jefferson Co. The M.V.O.R. marked the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the M.V.O.R.. MVG members mourned the death of Mr. Jay Rice owner of Rice's Cave in Jefferson Co. and long time friend of the Grotto. MVG donated $200.00 to the National Speleological Society Conservation Fund to be used in supporting the Cave Conservation Act. Lois Bronnert began efforts to bring about passage of the Federal Cave Protection Act. Adam Marty continued to map and explore in Cave of the Falls in St. Louis Co. MVG and MMV had what had become their annual joint Christmas party. MVG cavers had a Christmas trip to cave in Mexico. In 1984 Joe Walsh participated in the "Karst Field Studies Program sponsored by Western Kentucky University and Mammoth Cave National Park. Joe Walsh becomes MVG's MSS director taking over from Dave Neff.

In 1985 Deb Dumont was elected to serve her second term as MVG president. Vertical interest continued as rope school (Earl Hancock) and vertical cave trips were taking place. Several articles on vertical topics appeared in the Meramec Caver. By June of 1985 MVG,s membership was at 44, an all time high. Lois Bronnert continued her efforts to bring about passage of the Federal Cave Protection Act. Jim Gavin and Joe Walsh mapped more than 3,000 feet of passage in Walter's Spring Cave in Oregon Co. Jim and Betty Sherrell were exploring and mapping caves in Arkansas, Illinois, and Missouri. Adam Marty continued his exploration and mapping in the Cave of the Falls, which by then had over a mile of mapped passage. A cave gate was installed by MVG (under the leadership of Adam Marty and Don Rimbach) on Cave of the Falls.

In 1986 Keith Goldacker becomes the fourteenth President of MVG. Earl Hancock took over the editorship of the Meramec Caver from Richard Pirrin. Under Earl's tenure as editor the Meramec Caver became one of the better caving newsletters in the NSS. MVG (under the direction of Lois Bronnert) host the Spring NSS Board of Governors meeting on March 15, 1986. Joe Walsh, MVG's MSS representative presents an extensive report on the various cave related activities of the Grotto. At the Spring M.V.O.R. long time MVG member and former Grotto president Scott Guyer and MVG member and former editor of the Meramec Caver Laura Jones were married. Lois Bronnert was appointed to chair the National Speleological Society Board of Governors Arrangements Committee. Earl Hancock continued to provide vertical caving education with three rope schools during 1986. Eugene Vale encouraged grotto members to build Bat Houses. Jim Sherrell lead a vertical trip to Ellison Cave in Georgia. In October of 1986 MVG had 70 members. The end of the year featured yet another trip into Mexico.

In 1987 Jim Sherrell became the fifteenth president of MVG. In April Deb Dumont hosted the MVG Annual Film Festival (this event started some years earlier by Scott Guyer). 1987 saw Deb Dumont produce several articles for "electric" cavers in the Meramec Caver. On April 12, 1987 long time Missouri caver (MMV) Gregory Tex Yokum died. Lois Bronnert continued (along with help from Virginia Day and others) her efforts to have the Federal Cave Protection Act become law. Jim Gavin lead a group of MVG cavers in a joint MVG-Illinois Dept. of Conservation cave clean-up at Illinois Caverns. Tim Harrison lead an MVG trip to (wet trip) to the Hugh Dill room of Fisher Cave. By July 1987 MVG's membership had reached 91 cavers. Grotto members (Tom Cravens, Joe Walsh and others) investigate the "Triboluminescent characteristics of Wint-O-green Life Savers in caves. Vertical cavers need long ropes to do DEEP PITS so the MVG purchased 1400 foot of PMI (max) rope in 1987. Jim Sherrell lead a trip to Golondrins in November. The Grotto helped Carol Edwards celebrate her birthday. Don Rimbach and Jo Schaper did a 1,000 mile trip of the Ozark investigating caves, spring, and cave management by the Park Service. Joe Walsh conducted a map reading seminar teaching MVG members how to read topo maps more accurately. MVG now had 86 members and was becoming one of the largest grottoes in the nation.

In 1988 Jim Sherrell was elected to serve a second term as president of MVG. Lois Bronnert continued her efforts to get the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act passed. (The FCRP passed in the U.S. House and Senate and becomes a law that year). MVG Sponsored the Spring 1988 M.V.O.R. at Richard's Canoe Rental and campground near Greer, MO in Oregon Co. Several MVG cavers (Deb Dumont, Carol Edwards, Sharon Fleming, Jim Sherrell, Eugene Vale and others) developed cave reports and maps of caves in Oregon Co. On July 16th & 17th, 1988 MVG members celebrated the Grotto's 20th Anniversary at Onondaga Cave State Park campgrounds. Lois Bronnert, Joe Walsh, Virginia Day, and others help put together this Anniversary. Jim Gavin was surveying in Robinson Cave in St. Francois Co. Tom Cravens presented a proposal to the grotto to repair to roof on the O'Leary School and work towards putting the entrances to Kruger-Dry run cave system in some type of trust for cavers in the future. Brian Borton put on a rope school for MVG members. Tim Harrison lead a trip to Ellison's Cave in Georgia. Jim Sherrell lead a trip into Fogelpole in IL. and a Thanksgiving Trip to Mexico. Tom Cravens and Eugene Vale searched for endangered bats in Rice Cave. Mr. Jay Rice's son Charles was trying to get the state to take over the cave so as to remove his liability for the property.

In 1989 Tim Harrison became the sixteenth president of MVG. In 1989 the membership of the Meramec Valley Grotto grew to 145 cavers. In 1989 Mr. Charles Rice closed the artificial entrance to Rice Cave by dumping several tons of rock and gravel into the entrance. The cave is now accessible only through the natural water crawl entrance. Deb Dumont continued with the grotto film festival. Tom Cravens along with the help of many MVG members (Brian Borton, Earl Hancock, Matt Marciano, Jim Sherrell and many others) put a new roof on the old school and changed it into the Armin Kruger Speleological Institute. In 1989 Bob Reynolds took over the editorship of the Meramec Caver from Earl Hancock. For a short time Greg Reppert served as co-editor with Bob Reynolds. Bob Reynolds continued to make the Meramec Caver one of the best newsletters in the NSS. In 1989 Grotto members Joe Walsh and Lois Bronnert got married and went to explore lava tubes in Hawaii on their honeymoon. In addition to getting married Lois became a "Fellow" in the NSS this year. Jo Schaper becomes MVG's MSS representative, taking over from Joe Walsh. MVG celebrates MVG member and former president Jane Fisher's Birthday at Meramec State Park. The Missouri Dept. of Conservation's monthly publication Missouri Conservation published an article on Cave Life entitled "Living In A Cave" by MVG member Tom Cravens. Jim Sherrell became MVG's first NACD and NSS CDS Certified Cavern Diver. MVG members rediscovered Barite Cave in Washington Co. They also explored, mapped, photographed, and did a report on Barite Cave. MVG MSS representative Jo Schaper and Don Rimbach did some biological research at Fantastic Caverns. At the Fall 1989 M.V.O.R. (Hosted by Windy City in Monroe Co IL.) Armin Kruger signed a document establishing the area containing three entrances to the Kruger-Dry run Cave system into an Illinois Nature Preserve. Several MVG (Brian Borton, Marty Griffin, Tim Harrison, and others) members are involved in the study and exploration of Lechuguilla in New Mexico. Many MVG members go to Mexico to participate in MEXPELEO 89.

In 1990 (The Year of the Caves) Tim Harrison was elected to serve his second term as president of MVG. In January the MSS made the announcement of the 5,000th Cave (many MVG members were present) and Missouri Governor Ashcroft signed the Proclamation Making 1990 The Year of the Caves! In February Illinois Governor Thompson signed the document making the Kruger Cave Nature Preserve come into existence. MVG's MSS representative Jo Schaper developed a list of grotto members and their areas of interest in caving and speleology. MVG member Lannis Crutcher becomes a member of an archaeological dig at San Josecito Cave in Nuevo Leon Mexico. MVG members continue trips into Lechuguilla. MVG (Jo Schaper, Mark Rosbrook, John Walsh and others) (along with MMV and Stygian grottoes) put on a Exhibit for Earth Day 1990. Jo Schaper encouraged grotto members to protest Doe Run Mining interest in Oregon Co. MVG members (Eugene Vale and others) participated in dedication of the Onondaga State Park visitors center. In 1990 MVG had 149 members. Lannis Crutcher did the fastest descent ever made in the 80 ft. Antoinia Pit in Jefferson Co. when she failed to attach her rack to her seat harness. Several MVG members(Eugene Vale, Joe and Lois Walsh, Virginia Day, and Pam and Jerry Saberton) helped out at the MO. Dept. of Conservation's Day of the Cave at Inca Cave. International political change brought Russian cavers to St. Louis and MVG members (Brian Borton, Carol Edwards, Tim Harrison, Mark Rosbrook, Matt Marciano, Jim Minie, Eugene Vale, and others) showed the Russian cavers some good caves and a good time. Another MVG Christmas expedition went to Mexico (Jim Sherrell, Tim Harrison and others) this year MVG member Allen Siddle had an emergency appendectomy in a clinic in Can Cun Mexico.

In 1991 Marty Griffin was elected to become the seventeenth president of MVG. A crew of MVG members (Marty Griffin, Betty Sherrell, Jo Schaper, and others) participated in a "Cave Cleanup" at Mushroom and Sheep Caves in Meramec State Park. MVG members Matt Marciano and Jerry Reed did a dye trace of the stream in Hamilton Springs Cave. The results confirm that the stream in Hamilton Spring Cave is the source of Hamilton Spring. Matt also did dye tracing in Woods Cave in St. Louis Co. Eugene Vale did dye tracing in Cathedral Cave. MVG member Tom Cravens presented a lecture on Caves and Caving at the St. Louis Science Center. MVG member Eugene Vale had a cave location overlay map on display at the St. Louis Science Center. Cliff Cave was cleaned up by MVG member Joe Light. MVG member Bob Reynolds lead a trip in Doss Cave and placed a "Cave Register" in the cave as part of the National Speleological Society cave register program. Lois and Joe Walsh lead a hike and cleanup trip to Sunklands. Club 69 comes into existance at the Fall MVOR. Earl Hancock and 28 other MVG members did repair work (brickwork) at Cherokee Cave. MVG members John Kessler, Bill Schaper, Earl Hancock, and others worked on improvements in cave radio. Over twenty MVG members participated in NCRC training at Branson.

In 1992 Mitch Weildt was elected the eighteenth president of MVG. Earl Hancock and other MVG members continued with research on improving the cave radio. MVG member Roy Milner was exploring, mapping and reporting on caves in Turkey while stationed there with the U.S. Air Force. MVG member Jim Sherrell was awarded the "Lang Brod MSS Certificate of Recognition" for his contributions to the advancement of speleology. MVG members (Lannis Crutcher, Earl Hancock, Teri Kaub, Steve Kaub, Joe Light, Mike Mazdra, Ace McGee, Geff Mees, Jack Parker, Jo Schaper and Tony Schmitt) did repair work on the gate on Fisher Cave at Meramec State Park. Grotto members Jim Barlow and Nancy Campbell were married in Sheep Cave in Meramec State Park on March 14, 1992. In 1992 the members of the MVG were saddened by the death of early grotto member Phil Nester. MVG member Eugene Vale was made an National Speleological Society fellow in 1992. MVG members Earl Hancock and Lannis Crutcher got married in the fall of 1992. MVG member Joel Laws set up a statewide computer network for cavers. MVG members prepared to put on the Spring 1993 M.V.O.R.. Several MVG members (MMV and Mehlville Fire Dist.) helped rescue two people from Cave of the Falls.

In 1993 Mitch Weildt was elected to serve a second term as MVG president. In 1993 Joel Laws became MVG's MSS representative taking over the position from Jo Schaper. MVG member Roy Milner continued his explorations, reporting and mapping of the caves of Turkey. MVG members (under the leadership of Mitch Weildt) host the Spring 1993 M.V.O.R. April 30 May 1 & 2 at Jack's Fork River. MVG members Jo Schaper and Eugene Vale got married and have a formal serious cave ceremony. MVG (Lois B. Walsh, Joe Walsh, Brian Andrich, Elizabeth Howe, Tim Harrison, Geff Mees, Matt Marciano and Eugene Vale) has it's 25 Anniversary at Onondaga Cave State Park June 25, 26 & 27. Several MVG members became involved in LEARN Lechuguilla Exploration and Research Network. Several changes in the MVG Constitution were approved by MVG members which had effects on the Grotto. The changes resulted in the president and other officers taking office in January instead of May. 1993 also saw MVG change it's meeting location. Policy changes regarding room use requirements at the St. Louis Community College at Meramec forced the grotto to look for a new meeting site. A new meeting site (Tom Cravens and Mitch Wieldt) was selected at the Powder Valley Nature Center not far from the old meeting site. Using the new election format under the constitutional changes an election was held in December of 1993 and Joel Laws was elected to become the nineteenth president of MVG in January of 1994.

In 1994 Joel Laws becomes the first MVG president to take office in January. Jo Schaper becomes Chair of the Conservation Committee (Jo and Tom Cravens had co- chaired the Conservation and Research Committee in 1993) Jo begins publishing her "ConServe" collum in the Meramec Caver. Joel Laws has set up a caving BBS Cave Echoes and local cavers get into electronic caving. MVG members Deb Dumont and John Watson get Married. Joe Walsh and numerous other MVG members and other Missouri cavers begin serious planning for the 1997 NSS Missouri Convention in Sullivan. Steve Kaub has published a series of Safety and Technique articles in the Meramec Caver. In 1994 MVG had 148 members 90 of whom were NSS members. Jo Schaper becomes a Member of the Board of Directors of the Missouri Caves and Karst Conservancy. Chuck Clifford hosted the fifth (it had now become an MVG tradition) annual South of the Border Party. The 1st Annual (it would later become an MVG tradition) Fire on the Mountain Party was held near Taum Salk Mountain courtesy of Matt Marciano. MVG cavers cave hard and Party hard. Numerous MVG cavers head South to Mexico for Caving.

In January 1995 Jo Schaper becomes the 20th MVG president. MVG members Jim Sherrell, Matt Marciano and many others host the Spring 1995 MVOR in Oregon County, Mo. the first weekend in May. Tom Cravens becomes a Member of the Board of Directors of the Missouri Caves and Karst Conservancy. Earl and Lannis Hancock report that MVG with 158 members ranks 10th in size out of 200 Grottos in the nation. Jim Sherrell and other MVG cavers are mapping and photographing in the Roaring Springs Cave System. Marc Perez and Dan Hazelton are discovering, mapping and updating location information on caves in the Meramec Valley area. Joe and Lois Walsh and many other MVG members are putting in many hours of work in preparation for the 1997 NSS Convention. Philip Moss, Jim Sherrell, Rick Haley and others are discovering, exploring and mapping caves in Monroe Co. IL. John Walsh's Caver cover receives an honorable mention at the NSS Graphic Arts Salon. Numerous MVG cavers participate in MEXPELEO '95.

In January 1996 Rick Haley becomes the twenty-first president of MVG. Dan Hazelton writes a series of articles on "CAVE TECH" for the Meramec Cave. Jo Schaper and Joel Laws have began putting up caving material on the World Wide Web. Marc Perez publishes his research on Vanity Cave plates. E-mail addresses start appearing on MVG membership lists. The Illinois Speleological Survey comes into existence and MVG member Philip Moss is President and MVG member Jim Sherrell is the MVG ISS Board member. Joe Walsh and many others continue to work hard in preparation for the 1997 NSS convention. MVG and the entire caving community is deeply saddened at the loss of Armin Krueger. Armin was a member of MVG and several other grottos and was admired and all of those who got to know him. MVG had 147 members at the end of 1996. Philip Moss, Tony Schmitt and others are busy locating, exploring and mapping caves in Monroe County IL.

In January of 1997 Tony Schmitt becomes the twenty-second president of MVG. Long time MVG member Earl Biffle becomes the chair of committee to act as a liaison to any government agencies regarding cave management. Dan Hazelton continues his Cave Tech articles for the Meramec Caver. Jo Schaper continues her ConServ articles for the Meramec Caver. MVG member Philip Moss is elected to serve as member on the NSS board of Directors. Philip is the second MVG member to be elected to the NSS Board of Directors. Twenty years earlier in 1977 Tom Cravens was elected to the NSS Board of Directors. The Spring 1997 MVOR was hosted by Club 69 near Burbon MO. Hanz and Franz host a vertical workshop for Girls. Ladies, women and babes. In June Many MVG members along with cavers from all over Missouri Hosted the 1997 NSS convention in Sullivan Missouri. Tom Cravens puts the MVG web page up on the World Wide Web. Marc Perez is very active in the NSS Cave Register program. Philip Moss, Aaron Addison, Lea Claycomb, Rick Haley and others discover new passage in Fogelpole Cave in Monroe County IL. adding to the length of the longest cave in IL. Jo Schaper and Tom Cravens lead a series of Bio-inventory trips into Skaggs cave.

In January of 1998 Korey Hart becomes the twenty-third president of MVG. On January 19, 1998 long time MVG member and former MVG president Virginia Day passed away. All of those who were fortunate enough to have known Ginny felt a tremendous loss. Tom Cravens, Jo Schaper and several other MVG members count of 850 Bats in Mushroom Cave in Meramec State Park. Matt Marciano and crew donated $1,000.00 to the MCKC from the Banquet at the Spring MVOR. Tom Cravens and Jo Schaper continue to develop the Bio-inventory of Skaggs Cave. Tim Harrison becomes MVG's MSS representative. Numerous MVG cavers attend the 1998 NSS convention in Huntsville. MVG caver Roy Milner won a Merit Award at the 1998 NSS Graphic Arts Salon for the cover he designed for the June 1997 Meramec Caver. MVG caver John Walsh won an Honorable Mention August 1997 cover for the Meramec Caver. After five years and sixty ConServ columns in the Meramec Caver Jo Schaper hands over the chair of the Conservation committee to Teddy Marsan.

The details in this history were derived from several sources the most important of which was the MERAMEC Caver. To a lesser extent the MSS Liaison, the NSS News and MISSOURI SPELEOLOGY were used. Jo Schaper provided some information as did Joe Walsh, Laura Guyer and Bob Reynolds. I have endeavored to select what seemed to me to be representative material and significant events of each year. In the early years records were poor and I had to rely upon my somewhat unreliable memory. In the later years so many things were occurring that many important events and individuals were no doubt not included in this history of MVG. Hopefully any important events left out of this account will be included in a future history of MVG.

Tom Cravens
September 1998