Digging Deep

An urban spelunker shares his English Cave jones and Steve Patterson's mother sets us straight on where her son went to high school.

English Cave

News Real, September 13, 2007

Cave kinship: Like many of my city cave-exploring brethren and the author of "Secret Passage," Aimee Levitt, I'm deeply fascinated by English Cave; my childhood home was across from Benton Park and I now reside a block away. On one of many hopeless walks around the park looking for a "cave entrance this way" sign, my buddy and I came upon a grate-covered manhole about ten feet from the park's northeastern boundary. We aimed our flashlights down and discovered that it descended about 25 feet into the ground. Through common sense and knowledge of the cave's size, we knew that it wasn't directly English, but after messing with more than 50 grates and sewer covers only to find a pile of leaves and cockroaches two feet down, it was definitely an advancement in our pursuit of English. So that night we hastily decided to check it out. We reviewed a half-assed plan of throwing a rope down and scaling to the bottom, then headed out. Once there, we realized our amateur plan didn't include how to anchor the rope, nor did it factor in eight or nine houses in the area that had open views of where we were, nor the cars passing by every twelve seconds.

I finally dropped down into a bricked archway tunnel closed off about four feet one way and going off into a southern direction the other way. Approximately 50 feet from the manhole, the tunnel curved westward towards the park, where it went off into the distance to who knows where — my sneakers weren't holding up in the mud.

From an alleyway vantage point, we looked back and saw a police squad car roll up to the manhole. An officer got out to investigate and we hightailed it.

The next day I visited Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District headquarters to see if I could get some information on the sewer systems under the park. I met the "old sewer" expert, who luckily never stopped to ask how I knew what the tunnel looked like when I described it to her. She was puzzled by the arched design I described, as well as the fact it was closed off at one end, and had no flow. She let me look at their original sewer map of the area that MSD drew when it formed in the 1950s. They had no record of the system I was in. Nothing on their map showed a tunnel that went south down the eastern park boundary then curved west.

Anyway, while it was probably just an old forgotten sewer, we'll never know for sure. Our fumbled attempt to explore it and the resulting 3 a.m. wake-up call for that captain got enough people pissed off that a week later the easy-to-open manhole got sealed with a solid bolted cover encased in concrete. A Meramec Valley Grotto member suggested that the sewer, if it ran above the cave, could have possibly collapsed into it somewhere along that tunnel. We'll never know.
Taylor, St. Louis

Unreal, September 6, 2007

Setting the record, uh, straight: First, I'd like to thank you for Unreal's "Gay Guns," on the nascent local Pink Pistols chapter. I would like to make a couple of small corrections, however, if I may. First, Pink Pistols is not an all-gay group; membership is open to anyone (see www.pinkpistols.org for details). Second, in my answer to the question, "So what kind of heat are you packing?" I said I have a shotgun for trap shooting, not track shooting.

Lastly, anyone with questions can reach me at [email protected].
Chris Harrison, St. Louis

Music Feature, September 6, 2007

Mother knows best: Thanks for Christian Schaeffer's great article, "Go Ask Alice," on White Rabbits. I wanted you to know that Steve Patterson is also from this area. He grew up in Troy, Illinois, and graduated from Triad High School in 2000 before graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2004 with a degree in music. I'm not certain why St. Louis publications don't mention that, but it has happened before. I wanted you to have this information in case you do another piece on the band in the future.
Suzanne Patterson, Troy, Illinois
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