Lost River Cave is a beautiful place to visit and brings in thousands of tourists each year.
There is a lot of history in the cave. It was used by both Confederate and Union armies during the Civil War and has long been rumored to have been a hideout for Jesse James and his gang after they robbed a bank in nearby Russellville. It was also the site of dance parties and gatherings in the 1940s and 1950s. For decades later, it was essentially deserted, taken over by vegetation and neglect.
Later, it was revitalized by the city and the Friends of Lost River Cave. Now, it is a really neat place to go – you can take tours into the cave by boat, you can look at wetlands, you can zip-line and you can attend special events there, such as Spirits in the Cave and Get Down in the Valley. Quite a few people have gotten married there as well.
It’s a part of Bowling Green’s history, one that we need to preserve and keep safe for future generations to enjoy as we have. That is why we were so concerned several months ago when we learned that there was a suspected gasoline spill nearby and Lost River Cave staff discovered a gasoline odor emitting from the cave.
While it is not exactly known where the gasoline came from, investigators with the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet say rain is flushing the gasoline and odor out of the cave and they believe the end might soon be in sight.
Kevin Strohmeier, response coordinator for the Environmental Response Branch of the cabinet, said, “I think our endpoint is when we get significant rains and we don’t get a reading above (something like) 20 ppm,” he said. “That’s when I’ll feel like we’ve flushed out the residual gasoline from our systems.”
This is very good news to say the least. This has been a most unfortunate incident as boat tours were suspended for about six weeks during the subsequent investigation and access to the cave for visitors was off limits, resulting in what we are sure was a loss of money to Lost River.
We are glad that it appears that the end of this unfortunate matter is apparently in sight, but it should be a constant reminder that people need to be more vigilant in monitoring these caves because they’re susceptible to gasoline, herbicides and animal byproducts because of our karst topography.
Caves are precious resources in our community and our state, and we should never let something bad happen to them. Let’s be vigilant going forward, keep an eye on them and do all we can to protect them.