Missouri Caves in History and Legend Lake Sun Leader, Camdenton, MO Jan 04, 2009 By Norine Albers
The author of nine books, H. Dwight Weaver’s most recent “Missouri Caves in History and Legend”, was published by the University of Missouri Press. It records a natural and cultural heritage that spans two million years of Missouri history. (Photo by Noreen Albers)
Lake of the Ozarks, Mo. -Captured by the curiosity of caves at age seven, H. Dwight Weaver would invest the next 55 years of his life exploring Missouri caves to gain the knowledge hidden deep within their secret crevices.
His new book, “Missouri Caves in History and Legend, “records a “cultural heritage stretching from the end of the ice age to the twenty-first century. It is a grand tour of the state’s darkest places and takes the reader deep underground to shed light on the historical significance of caves, correct misinformation about them, and describe the ways in which people have used and abused these resources.”
I've known Dwight for about 20 years now--served on the board of the Missouri Caves and Karst Conservancy with him. The book they are touting is actually quite slim and designed for the casual reader-- not exactly a kid's book, but something that you could tackle in jr. high, or enjoyas light reading on a trip. A few months ago, Dwight was a featured speaker in a free lecture series held at the Missouri State Archives. He brought old black and white slides (the images were originally in b&w, so what would be the point of color?) and talked for about 45 minutes, then did a book signing.
My favorite books are the ones he did in the 1970s on Mark Twain Cave, Meramec Caverns and Onondaga. The Cave State (all current and former show caves) is Ok, as is the Wilderness Underground (Eugene has photos in TWU--it is a really beautiful cave picture book, with text by Dwight.) The ones which are about a single cave are built around the characters who commercialized the caves-- and yes, they were characters-- and Dwight does a good job of telling a good story, backed up by a gagillion footnotes.
I know some of you folks have been privy to having Bill Halliday around-- in Missouri, Dwight is something like that, just not quite as nationally famous-- a cave writer with opinions and no fear of expressing them.
It's so great to be of an age where you get to know some of the first generation of serious cavers in a region-- I've already seen the hallowed deference that some young folk regard BNCs who passed away before they got to meet them...it's way better to get to know them as people, instead of as legends!