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Carlsbad Cavern
Historical Dates in the history of Carlsbad Caverns National Park and Southeast New Mexico

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1945 -- September 8, Visitor fee for elevator use is eliminated.

1946 -- April 26, Jim White died.

1948 -- January, First Park Ranger permanently stationed at Rattlesnake Springs.
September, Sloth bones found at Devil's Den.

1949 -- June 8, Commercial electric power begins at park, replacing the park generator. Powerhouse is converted to vehicle garage.

1950 -- March, Motion picture "King Solomon's Mine" is filmed at Slaughter Canyon Cave (New Cave).

1951 -- Paving of cavern trail begins.
January, Seating area at Rock of Ages hill removed. Stairs from Whales Mouth to Devil's Den removed, replaced by inclined trail.
March 14, Construction employee killed by dynamite blast during construction in cave.

1952 -- August 19, Tex Helm takes the "Big Shot" photo of the Big Room using 2400 flashbulbs.

1953 -- Paving of existing trails completed.

1954 -- January, Bat Cave seating area completed.
March, Iceberg Rock seating area completed.
Lighting system improvements and repairs, begun in 1952, completed.
July 8, Second elevator shaft is completed. Construction begun in January 1954.

1955 -- New elevators installed and put into service. First fluorescent lights installed in cavern. Walk out tours discontinued with advent of new elevators.
May, Top of the Cross seating area completed.

1956 -- October, Carlsbad Caverns Natural History Association begun. (current name: Carlsbad Caverns - Guadalupe Mountains Association)
March, Stairway from Iceberg Rock to Green Lake Room replaced by incline trail.

1957 -- August, Camel bones found in Slaughter Canyon Cave (New Cave).
September, All guano mining operations halted at Slaughter Canyon Cave (New Cave); by the end of September, all mining equipment is removed from cave.

1958 -- January, Jaguar bones found at Slaughter Canyon Cave.
January 20, Quit claim on the 40 acres over Bat Cave filed, giving the NPS full control of the area.

1959 -- March, Construction of the current Visitor Center is complete; old stone buildings near cave entrance removed and tour operations transferred to the Visitor Center. Adjacent parking areas, originally constructed in 1940 as overflow, now used as primary parking, with the lower parking area designated as overflow and Bat Flight parking.
June, Motion picture "Journey to the Center of the Earth," with Pat Boone and James Mason, is filmed in the King's Palace and Boneyard.
July, Visitor Center formally dedicated.

1960 -- November, Television show "Route 66" films an episode in the King's Palace.

1961 -- December 10, Project Gnome, a 5 kiloton nuclear weapon test, detonated underground, 34 miles southeast of the park.

1963 -- Bat Flight Amphitheater at the natural entrance is constructed and placed into operation. First requested some 16 -17 years earlier as seating area for Bat Flight viewers.
April 3, Civil Defense supplies are stored in the underground lunchroom area and the Cavern are designated as a shelter for Roswell, Artesia, Hobbs, Carlsbad, and adjacent areas. Plan unrealistically specifies that 25,000 people could use shelter at once.
1966 -- June 26, Guadalupe Room discovered.

1967 -- June, Self-guided trips through the Big Room are begun. Rangers stationed at points throughout the Big Room interpret their section as visitors pass by. Tours are still guided through Main Corridor and Scenic Rooms.

1972 -- January 6, Self-guided tours of entire Cavern are initiated.

1975 -1977 -- Cavern's lighting system replaced.

1977 -- January, Current lighting and wiring system completed. Emergency light system installed, eliminating use of lanterns during power failures.

1978 -- November 10, Under Public Law 95-625, 33,125 acres of Carlsbad Caverns National Park is designated as wilderness.

1979 -- July 10, Four armed men entered the Underground Lunchroom area and "took over the cave," taking hostages. Incident ends several hours later with arrest of the terrorists.

1981 -- Ten other caves in the park opened for recreational caving with permits issued subject to skills and experience of applicants.
March 16, NPS group, including Jimmy Sillas and Ron Kerbo, covers guano mining shafts for safety.

1982 -- October, Cave Specialist Ron Kerbo and Geologist Mike Queen use light cord, balsa wood, and helium balloons to float cord to area 200' above Baby Hippo area, snagging a stalagmite. Later, both climb rope into area later named Balloon Ballroom.

1984 -- June, A group of Colorado cavers received permission to dig in the already disturbed floor of Lechuguilla Cave (only 200' long) to investigate "blowing leads." Six trips to dig out the loose dirt occur between November 23, 1984 and May 25, 1986 when a small alcove is discovered. After taking steps to shore up the dug tunnel, the explorers hit pay dirt. By May 31, 1986, Lechuguilla Cave is surveyed at 3500' long and 703' deep.

1985 -- December 15, Cave Specialist Ron Kerbo, BLM employee Jim Goodbar, and Geologist Mike Queen again use helium balloons to float a cord to the ceiling area in the Big Room in order to climb 255' into the area, later named "Spirit World."

1986 -- September 5, Lechuguilla Cave is 7400' long and 927' deep.

1987 -- October 14, Lechuguilla Cave is at 37,500' long and 1207' deep.

1988 -- The Caverns Historic District and The Rattlesnake Springs Historic District created.
May 30, Lechuguilla Cave now stretched to 86,000' and measured 1501' deep.

1991 -- March 31, Caver Emily Davis Mobley broke her left leg about 1000' down in Lechuguilla Cave. 150+ rescuers teamed together to bring her back to the surface in four days.

1994 -- April, Lechuguilla Cave surpassed 70 miles in known passage way.
December, A National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and U. S. Geological Survey team made its 2nd five day trip into Lechuguilla Cave.

1995 -- December, Carlsbad Caverns National Park becomes a World Heritage Site.

1998 -- Park celebrates 75th anniversary of proclamation as a National Monument.

1999 -- July, explorers push discovered passageway in Lechuguilla Cave past 102 miles.

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