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Robinson's Cave EarthCache

Hidden : 04/20/2009
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Geocache Description:

Robinsons Cave is located behind Dunkle Hall in New Straitsville. Please follow the signs and go across the correct foot bridge. It's a fairly easy walk up recently added steps which take visitors easily to the cave. Not wheelchair friendly, dawn to dusk

The Mississippian Period began around 359 million years ago and ended around 318 million years ago. Mississippian-age rocks crop out in a north-south band in east-central Ohio from the Ohio River to near the Lake Erie shore and then eastward in northeastern Ohio. They are well exposed in much of this area because they consist primarily of erosion-resistant sandstones and sandy shales that form prominent cliffs.

As the Early Mississippian progressed, coarser sands representing the offshore portions of delta lobes formed by many west-flowing streams built up thick deposits of sand and sandy shale.

One of the more interesting units of the Lower Mississippian is the Black Hand Sandstone. The nearly pure quartz sandstone reaches about 200 feet in thickness in the Hocking Valley and crops out to the north into Licking and Richland Counties.

Mississippian rocks have been important to the economic development of the state, although it is less today than in the past. The Black Hand Sandstone and Buena Vista Sandstone of the Cuyahoga Formation have been important building stones. The Buena Vista of southern Ohio is still quarried. Oil and gas have been produced in modest quantities from Mississippian rocks, particularly the Black
Hand in the subsurface of southern Ohio. The Bedford Shale was once an important source of clay for bricks and tile.

Perhaps the most spectacular scenery in Ohio is due to thick, erosion-resistant sandstones of Mississippian age. The Black Hand Sandstone, in particular, forms high cliffs, large rock-shelter caves, and waterfalls in its areas of outcrop from Hocking County northward to Richland County. Robinson's cave is one of those rockshelters.

Citation"Mississippian Period", Ohio History Central, July 1, 2007,

On a forested hillside south of New Straitsville, this cave offered a secluded location with great acoustics where large groups of Hocking Valley coal miners could meet in secret. Beginning in about 1870, labor-organizing meetings were held at the cave by various emerging unions including the Knights of Labor. New Straitsville resident Christopher Evans, a well-known union organizer, used Robinson's Cave to lead miners throughout the long Hocking Valley Coal Strike of 1884-1885. These meetings gave the miners a voice in the formation of a national organization called the National Federation of Miners and Mine Laborers, later renamed the National Progressive Union. The cave was also where non-union miners met to plan to set the Columbus & Hocking Coal & Iron Company mines on fire in a desperate attempt to end the Hocking Valley Strike. In 1886, the Knights of Labor founded the National District Assembly #135, a rival for the National Federation of Miners and Mine Laborers. Oddly, both headquarters were located in New Straitsville. Dissension between the two groups hurt labor negotiations, but Christopher Evans continued to hold meetings to settle differences. In response to a miner's death in 1889, the feuding miners used Robinson's Cave to reconcile once and for all. Evans called miners together again in 1890 for the first organizational meeting of the United Mine Workers of America, the name formally adopted at their next meeting in Columbus. This series of historic meetings is why Robinson's Cave is referred to as the secret birthplace of the United Mine Workers.

To log this Earthcache, you must identify the darkest colored layer in the exposed strata of the cave walls. You must then read the posted history in the area, and tell us the local "slang term" for what is contained in that layer. Please post of photo of yourself at the cave.

Congrats to illinitrekker, StarWars98 and the non-logging member for FTF!

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