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Feature Story

BLM Nevada Installs New Door on “Hidden Cave” Entrance to Preserve Valuable Archaeological Assets

BLM employees carry a 300 pound door to the Hidden Cave entrance for installation.

It took six Bureau of Land Management employees to transport a 300 pound door along a quarter mile trail to Hidden Cave within the Grimes Archaeological District in Nevada. The BLM Carson City Office replaced the door to protect the valuable archaeological assets inside the cave and to provide tour guides and authorized cave visitors with a user-friendly entrance.

BLM tour leader explains how archaeological excavations were conducted to learn the human history of Hidden Cave.The Grimes Point Archaeological District, located twelve miles east of Fallon, Nev., is one of the most significant petroglyph sites in the country. It is an archeological site important to understanding the changes in climate occurring over the last 20,000 years and the human occupation of the Great Basin over the last several thousand years. The site consists of over 900 basalt boulders that are engraved with four styles of petroglyphs: Pit and Groove, Curvilinear, Rectilinear and Representational. The public can view the rock art from the Grimes Point National Recreation Trail, Nevada's first national recreation trail designated in 1976, and the Hidden Cave Interpretive Trail.

Hidden Cave is a geological feature with special archaeological significance located within the Grimes Point Archeological site; it is unique in that it provides the general public with the opportunity to see firsthand how archeological excavations are conducted. Excavations were completed on the cave in the 1940s, 1950s and late 1970s, and the last set of excavations was left intact with the intention of providing a site for interpretation of archeological history and methodology. 

For the last thirty years, the BLM has provided bi-monthly tours of Hidden Cave to youth groups and the general public while the Churchill County Museum staff and docents has provided tours for specially arranged groups, schools and families. From Oct. 1, 2012 through Sept. 30, 2013, BLM staff provided 14 tours to 122 youth and 315 general public, and the museum staff provided 55 tours to 562 youth and 464 general public - a total of 69 tours and 1,463 individuals.

With thirty years of use and exposure to the caustic atmosphere of the cave environment, the two dead bolt style locking mechanisms on the cave door were worn out and on the verge of failing. In addition, the design of the door made it vulnerable to vandalism and the location of the locks made it difficult for the docents from the Churchill County Museum and BLM staff to operate.

Hidden Cave entrance: photo of the old door with old locks.      Hidden Cave entrance: photo of the new door.

With partial funding assistance from the BLM Cave and Karst Program in the Washington Office, the BLM Nevada was able to install a new door to the cave. The door, fabricated by local business Fallon Welding and Fabrication, was constructed out of a single piece of half inch plate steel to guard against vandalism and a center pivot throw mechanism constructed out of stainless steel to withstand the harsh elements of the cave environment. The new door and locking mechanism work flawlessly and will provide years of trouble free use for many tours to come. (Lisa Ross, Carson City District public affairs specialist)

Click here for more information about Hidden Cave, including a new must-see documentary.