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Friday, December 05, 2008

On the 85th Anniversary of the Founding of Carlsbad Cave National Monument, the Newly Rehabilitated Park Visitor Center is Dedicated (10/25/08)

The beautiful blue sky over Carlsbad Caverns National Park in southeastern New Mexico on October 25, 2008 at 9:00 a.m. was just what the National Park Service Photobucketofficials for the dedication of the recently completed rehabilitated CAVE Visitor Cneter had hoped for, if the slightly gusty winds weren't. In several cases the wind forced a couple speakers to keep their notes from fluttering away into the Chihuahuan Desert.
Superintendent John Benjamin opened his remarks by presenting an honor guard from from Fort Bliss, El Paso.

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I took their picture after they performed their march because I couldn't figure out how to put my hand over my heart while taking a picture. After the honor guard marched, Superintendent Benjamin introduced each soldier and explained what some of their U.S. Army assignments had been. At least one of the soldiers had served two tours in Iraq.

PhotobucketThe keynote speaker in the morning was Ron Kerbo, former park Cave Specialist who came to work at the caverns in 1976. Born in Oklahoma he was raised in nearby Lovington, New Mexico, Ron started caving in the Guadalupe Mountains as a young man, a caver who fell in love with what he saw. His enthusiasm for caves, his cave exploration skills, and his creative and distinctive manner of speaking and writing about caves and their conservation set him apart in the history of caving in this area and all over the world. Personally I hope that he is preparing a book on his experiences--like climbing the ledge over The Bottomless Pit (the Liberty Dome) in 1976; climbing the ledge straight up into the Main Corridor ceiling in the Balloon Ballroom expedition in 1982; duplicating the same feat on a higher ceiling straight up in The Big Room in 1985; and beginning in 1986 aiding as an NPS coordinator the exploration of Lechuguilla Cave (from an initial depth of 90+ feet to 1500+ with the discovery of over 120 (you need this update from Dale Pate) miles of passageway. By the way, some fellow explorers from some of those expeditions such as the current National Cave and Karst Program coordinator for the Bureau of Land Management Mr. Jim Goodbar and long time cave and karst researcher in of the caves of the Guadalupe Mountains Dr J. Michael Queen were in attendance at the dedication ceremonies.

In the afternoon, Mr. Kerbo gave a talk on the wonder of caves in his experiences in a talk entitled A Speleological Notebook. His summary points included statements on how caves excite our imaginations, fuel our adventurous spirits and beckon us toward unknown worlds. The programs that Mr. Kerbo has presented in his caving career in the National Park Service have always been passionate, thought-provoking, and packed with his unique and very personal observations, and his A Speleological Notebook program was no exception

From Carlsbad Caverns National Park in 1991, Mr. Kerbo transferred to Santa Fe New Mexico as the Southwest Regional Cave Program Coordinator and then in 1996 to the Geologic Resources Division in Lakewood, Colorado where he developed and coordinated the National Park Service cave and karst program on the national level. He retired from the NPS in 2007 with 31 years of service.



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After giving his keynote address, Mr. Kerbo speaks to Mr. Manny Cortez, a retired long-time supervisor for the Interpretation and Visitor Services Division. Mr. Cortez supervised park guides at the caverns for over two decades and always required those park guides to provide high quality visitor services for the hundreds of thousands of visitors coming to the caverns. a legacy that continues to this day.










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After Ron Kerbo's presentation, interested visitors were treated to a talk by Dr. Michael Adams, the son of Ansel Adams. While Dr. Adams, a medical doctor who retired from the U.S. Air Force as a general and a former jet pilot, was not a photographer himself, he provided some "up close and personal" memories about his famous Dad's landmark achievements in the field of American Photographic History.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ansel_Adams

Lois Manno, Director of the Caverns Art Project, spent three years putting together a long term changing art exhibit, including Ansel Adams and New Mexico artist Will Shuster works. Please read about it at:
This art exhibit in the newly rehabilitated Visitor Center will enhance your visit to the caverns, I did not even attempt to take any photographs. Besides my lack of skill with my FUJI digital camera, I had a sneaking premonition that just as I clicked pix of any of these photo-beauties, undercover (or underground?) law enforcement personnel would arrest me for copyright violations, and posing as a photographer.

Over half a century ago, when the original visitor center was built and dedicated in the 1950s, the prevailing architectual concept and purpose was to have large scenic windows for the visitors to see the nearby park resources. Then here at the caverns, and at other visitor centers throughout the National Park System, staffs and operations grew, and many windows became "blocked" because of other space requirements. Happily, the rehabilitated visitor center turned back the clock on window styles and appearances.

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People hanging around for refreshments--

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*****Thanks to Ron Kerbo and Marie Marek for help in putting this post together. Thanks to the four people in this post (as well as the others ) who have spent close to or more than two decades working at the caverns. And thanks to Jim White who never lost faith that sharing the caverns with others was a noble and worthwhile goal. And finally, thanks to the people who continue to carry out that same goal today.
Bob Hoff
12/5/08

8 comments:

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