Heading upstream. Photo by Dr Warren Lewis Cited: Coldwater Cave 20 Years of Exploration and Still Going by Patricia Kambesis and Bryan Bain NSS News, Volume 46, No. 6, June 1988

It was a beautiful fall day, the leaves were starting to turn, the sun warm, absolutely beautiful time to be in that part of the state. We went into the spring, about noon. Dave went first to kind of guide the away and then I followed. It was a matter of lying flat at the base of the cliff, right in the spring water as it came out, and then rolling under the cliff in order to get past the lip, then swimming a few shorts strokes. I came up in the small room that was behind the cliff. The sensation was just fantastic. In just the blink of an eye I had gone from this beautiful fall day outside to what I considered then to be a spectacular cave. I was overwhelmed by the experience of ducking underwater then coming back out inside a cave. Over the hours we worked our way back through the underwater passage ways. The boys had extended a nylon cord through the first part of underwater pass and we could fallow the cord underwater. We were completely submerged underwater, equipped with underwater electric flashlights. The first man in line was responsible for directing where to go and following the cord because the water was clear. He would muddy up the water, so nobody behind him could see.

After the first room we went back underwater again, through a passage of about hundred yards, then came up into what the boys called the “L” shaped room. This was a larger room, especially compared to the first, with a “L” shaped bend. Next, we ducked back under again and went along for perhaps another 200 yards under water.  We came up in the third room which was called the “Breakdown” room because large slabs of ceiling had fallen down requiring us to crawl under them in order to proceed forward. After passing the “Breakdown” room it was back underwater again for a much longer stretch until the ceiling gradually came up out of the water.


Mainstream Coldwater photo: D. Jagnow Cited: Coldwater Cave 20 Years of Exploration and Still Going, By Patricia Kambesis and Bryan Bain NSS News, Volume 46, No. 6, June 1988

We switched from air tanks to snorkel because there was about inch of air space between the ceiling and the water which we could utilize with snorkel tubes in order to conserve air in the tanks. After about another 100 yards the ceiling was high enough to stand up and we came to a place with a small side passage and here we left the air tanks and proceed with just our wet suites. Almost immediately we came to a huge stalagmite that extended out of a hole in the ceiling. It appeared to me to be about a full 20 feet long. It was like a giant tooth extending out and it hung directly over the creek. This was the first large formation that I saw. Gradually, we worked our way upstream. Some places we had to climb over rocks, in other places the water was so deep that we had to swim. We stumbled upon another small passage where a small sparkling stream spilled out over a four-foot waterfall.


Goldwater Cave Cited: Cave Preserve

The boys had not previously explored this passage so, I asked them if I could. There is thrill, that is hard to express in words, of being the first person to enter a place like that…being the first one to see what’s there. It’s something I’ll never forget. I was first able to walk back through the side passage then came to a rock formation which resembled a curtain; it was parted in the middle. I was able to crawl under that and the passage then started to narrow and I had to crawl for a considerable distance. Eventually, it got so narrow that I wormed my way through on my stomach but soon decided to come back out. Dave had followed me into that passage for a distance and was waiting for me when I got back from the waterfall. We turned around and started on up the main passage. Steve and Tom decided that they would explore the side passage a little further.


Stalagmite Finding Goldwater Cave Cited: Des Moines Register

Proceeding up the main passage we soon came to a place were Steve and Dave had dug their campsite during their previous three-day exploration. Dave wanted to take some pictures at this location. We set up his camera equipment. He had carried in two waterproof boxes and proceeded to take some color photographs of formations around this area. Located near this area is a long stalagmite that extends down from the ceiling. It is white and comes about a half an inch from a stalagmite that is growing up from the rock floor. Stalagmite formations are made form calcite crystals. The rock walls themselves are made from lime stone. I was particularly struck by this stalagmite because it had grown so close together but had not meet the other formation growing up from the floor.

We were joined, after a short while, by the Steve and Tom. Going up the passage way for about perhaps another quarter mile to a place where there the boys called “dome pits,” they are these domes…sort of holes in the ceiling where the rock eroded away. This was about as far as I went in the cave on that day.

Coldwater Cave Cited: Cave Preserve

We came back out and the cold was beginning to get to me. As we got back down to the air tanks I was getting quite chilly and then with the having do go back underwater I finally got so cold my teeth started chattering. They were chattering SO hard that I couldn’t hold the mouthpiece of my scuba gear anymore. I had to hold it in with my hand and when we finally got to that last   room it was almost all I could do to force my way underwater and back out to the outside. We had been in for12 hours it was midnight when we came out. it was a beautiful warm night; the stars were out. It seemed liked the warmth of spring after being in the cold dampness of the cave. The sensation that I most vividly remember was the smell of farm and farm animals that pervaded the air. I was simply not conscious of the smell in the state at other times but I had been in an atmosphere that was completely cut off from the outside and the smell was just extremely strong coming back out. It was an extremely pleasant smell.

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