The future of a Logan County cave believed to have been in use as long as 12,000 years ago could be closing in on a settlement.
The South Logan Historic Society has been working for about two years to take over management of Savage Cave in Logan County, according to Wayne Stratton, a member of the historic society.
“I think we’ve about finished that process finally,” he said.
Stratton said he hopes Logan County government will be able to take over ownership of the cave by the end of the month or in early January.
The South Logan Historic Society plans to lease the cave from the county at a nominal fee and would handle management of the cave, he said.
Murray State University and Logan County officials, however, don’t seem as optimistic about a deal moving forward that quickly. Murray State owns the cave.
Catherine Sivills, assistant vice president for communications at Murray, said the university is in the infancy stages of finding an organization to manage the property and that no paperwork has been drawn up or signed.
She said further progress on the issue may be made by early spring.
Logan County Attorney Joseph E. Ross said in a voicemail that he has had some discussion via mail with Murray State attorneys about the cave. From those communications, it appears that Logan County could meet the terms of a management plan for the cave, Ross said.
“It does appear that we’ve gotten those terms into a form that we could accept,” he said.
Negotiations are proceeding, but more work is needed, Ross said. “It’s still going to take some time,” he said.
If the South Logan Historic Society is able to take over management of the cave, a board would be established which he is set to head, Stratton said.
Kit Wesler, professor of archeology at Murray State University, would serve as a board adviser, Stratton said.
The first thing the group would do is clean up the overgrown property surrounding the cave, he said.
Vandalism that has become a problem around the cave also needs to be addressed, Stratton said.
The group has considered installing a gate at the cave entrance to keep vandals out, he said.
A chain-link fence is up around the cave, but those links can easily be cut, Stratton said.
Eventually, the historic society would like to see the cave used as an educational resource for school-aged children, along with having archaeologists return to the cave, he said. It would take a long time before the group could be able to allow cave tours, Stratton said.
Savage Cave is an important part of history in terms of how life evolved in the area, he said. Stratton said he thinks the cave could still reveal a lot through future exploration.
Having Savage Cave functioning as an educational and historic site in conjunction with other historic sites in the county could help bring more people into the area, which is important in small towns and communities, he said.
Wesler said Savage Cave was turned over to Murray State University in 1983 by Genevieve Savage, who had previously owned the cave.
Artifacts and human remains were found in the cave when Savage owned it. One professional archeologist came to look at it but never wrote a report on it, he said.
Murray State University was never able to turn the cave into an asset and hasn’t taken care of it very well, Wesler said.
The university is too far away from the cave for it to be guarded properly, he said.
The site had been badly looted, but there are still probably significant archeological artifacts there, Wesler said.
“It really requires somebody who’s there to keep an eye on it,” he said.