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Deliveranceville

Shadows trick the eyes, letting the cave feel deeper than it is. The air is cool and pregnant with humidity, touching the skin with a delicate but sudden embrace. The cave is relatively small for what I imagine the mouth of a quarry to be and appears to be shaped like an ‘L.’ The length hugs the Gallery, its short leg abuts the Skylight. The cave… if I should call it that, aperture might be more appropriate since it is merely hollowed space between outside and the Gallery, is a broken place. Pools of water stand perfectly still reflecting light rays from the Skylight. There are pieces of rock, there are large cuts into rock, the ceiling is at times smooth and clearly cut, and at other times seems shattered. It seems more disorganized than I would have imagined an industrial complex, even an old one to be. It is hard to imagine working here, it seems earth itself abandoned the mine some time ago leaving rock and water clutter like furniture and paper left in an abandoned building… deep irony.

We come to stand before the Gallery, the main artery for quarry operations. It bores through the earth to unknown depths, disappearing into darkness and is completely submerged in feet of water. Peering with our flashlights we couldn’t find the bottom. Some junk to the side where the Gallery is more shallow seems about four feet below the perfectly clear surface and it makes me think the center of the tunnel is submerged in at least ten feet of water.

To our right through the cave large facets of rock jut up and down at angles, some easy enough to walk up save for being a little slippery, and beyond these sunlight pours through dramatically making the edges of rocks seem even sharper. The scene is something out of mythology. Where the ceilings are smooth however, where the rock above head is cut at angles that betray something of how dreadfully heavy the mountain stone might be I find my caution.

Graffiti throughout the cave is striking and appears to have accumulated over decades. One tag read “’62” as in 1962, another endorses a current presidential contender. We make our way through the cave pointing out and taking pictures. Scattered around are little bits of evidence from the cutting operations. A (industrial) diamond rope for cutting granite, the ends of heavy metal rope to lift and belay slabs of rock.

The cave curves left. On the left side is another entrance to the submerged gallery. To the right side is the Skylight, a tall face of rock cut right out of the mountain and an ideal repelling spot. All along the face are symmetrical lines from mining granite. My associate takes a look around and points out how the overhang at the top of this wall means that most of the 150 feet would be repelled in midair, without any contact with the wall.

More graffiti, back to the gallery, from this angle it looks not only submerged but abysmal. The fog is a constant fixture, almost like a creature itself, never sleeping, only waiting here and everywhere in the untold depths of this place centuries on end. My friend points out a dome in the ceiling. He says it was likely formed by water long before the mine.

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