Ste. Genevieve County

                             Blackfathom River Cave  Photo by Dave Bunnell

Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri is full of rich history and is amongst the most diverse counties, geologically speaking, in the entire state of Missouri.  

Ste. Genevieve County lays just to the north of Perry County, which during the 1960s and 1970s was the Mecca of Missouri caving.  

More caves over a mile long have been discovered in Perry County than anywhere in the state, including the state's longest, Crevice Cave at 31.2 miles.  Four of the state's top five longest caves are found in Perry County. Berome Moore Cave at 18 miles is the 3rdlongest, Mystery Cave at 15.7 miles is the 4th longest and the Rimstone River Cave at 14.2 miles is the 5th longest in the state. 

For decades Ste. Genevieve County was largely overlooked by all but a few astute cavers.  During the 1980s and early 1990s there was some activity in the county and much speculation on the potential for the discovery of new caves there, but little of signigicance materialized and the county again laid dormant until the early 2000s.

After years of little to no cave activity in the region members of the SEMO grotto were shown a cave deep in a valley cut along the River Aux Vases. The River Aux Vases is a major divide between the sinkhole plain in Ste. Genevieve County, which has multiple springs feeding into it from both sides of the river.  This was the beginning of the Black Fathom River Cave System project.

After the discovery of the Blackfathom River Cave on June 25, 2007, an extensive survey project started, which is still active as of August 2015. The Blackfathom River Cave System has a current survey length of 46,124 feet, or 7.01 miles, making it the 7th longest cave in the state of Missouri and by far the longest in the county. When including the smaller satellite caves which drain into the Blackfathom River Cave, the total survey of the project has eclipsed 8.74 miles of survey. 

Another project has been started in the Beckett Hills of Ste. Genevieve County. Several caves have been mapped in this area totaling 3,333 feet, with more caves and leads in existing projects to survey. 

Since 2007 there have been 33 new caves mapped in Ste. Genevieve County with a total surveyed length of 9.37 miles. This includes the karst regions surrounding the River Aux Vases on both sides of Interstate 55. As of 2007 there were only 73 caves were known to the Missouri Speleological Survey. Today there are 130 known caves in the county with many other leads still to check out. 52 of these cave entrances have been mapped and some of these caves are different entrances to larger systems.

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