Logan County Attorney Joe Ross received a letter recently from Murray State University saying some changes had been made to the deeds of Savage Cave located outside of Adairville.
The process is moving along in turning the cave over to the fiscal court. Ross told the Logan County Fiscal Court at the May 27th meeting he would write a response letter letting the school know the county is still interested.
The college asked the county if they wished to take ownership of the cave in 2012, however, it’s taken well over a year to get all the paperwork straight before it can be turned over. Owning property is common practice for small governmental entities, but owning a cave system could be ground breaking. Because Murray State University is over two hours away, the institution thought it best to deed it over to the county who could better protect it.
The Adairville Historical Society has shown interest in becoming caretakers of the cave, asking the county to lease it to them once they became owners. Murray State University cannot give the cave to a small private organization like the society, but will give it to a governmental agency who can then lease it to whom they choose.
The society has plans for the cave including bringing in school classes to learn more about the historic property and possibly having a festival in the area at some time in the future. It has been mentioned as well that eventually the cave could be made into a state park.
The cave, named after it’s one-time owner, Genevieve Savage, has been in the care of Murray State University since 1983 when it was donated to them by the Archaeological Conservancy headquartered in Santa Fe, N.M., with the approval of Savage, who donated the cave to the conservatory in 1980. Savage had purchased the cave in 1965 and embarked on a 28-year-long crusade until her death to gather interest in her cave, which turned out to be a national treasure of historical significance.
The cave was in danger of being destroyed when the civil defense wanted to turn it into a fallout shelter in the 1960s, according to an interview with Savage in a 1982 Courier Journal article. Savage convinced the owners of the property not to allow the civil defense to use the cave and she bought it for $1. Unfortunately, she had a difficult time getting people involved. In the many articles she was interviewed for throughout the years she expressed her disappointment in Logan County and the state of Kentucky at their lack of interest despite the cave having historical significance. She even attempted to get the cave annexed into Tennessee hoping to find more support.
The cave has been studied by several prominent archaeologists over the years such as the renowned Dr. Louis S.B. Leaky and Dr. Carl F. Miller, formerly of the Smithsonian Institute, who said, “Savage Cave has the greatest potential of finding Paleolithic man on the North American Continent.” The Paleolithic era covers the period before the last ice age, sometime before 10,000 B.C. The deposits in the cave span at least 12,000 years, it is one of the most significant prehistoric sites in the eastern United States.
Dr. Kenneth C. Carstens of Murray State University said he thought that Savage Cave had a greater historical significance than that of Mammoth Cave. “We have found evidence of every known prehistoric culture in the Eastern United States there,” said Carstens. “By examining the cave we can see why it was always a popular site for habitation.”
A lot of work has already been done on the cave entrance and it is the most secure it has been in 20 years with cameras and a great deal more monitoring. There have been problems over the years with vandalism and illegal digging for artifacts in the cave before the tightening of security. There are stiff penalties for those who are caught in the cave without authorization.