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The new book Underground Empires: Two Centuries of Exploration, Adventure & Enterprise in New York’s Cave Country (Black Dome Press, 2021), by Dana Cudmore with foreword by Robert & Johanna Titus, explores the history of caves in Albany and Schoharie Counties, and describes the personal and engineering accomplishments that turned some into popular tourist destinations.
Underground Empires offers a look back at nearly 200 years of adventure in New York’s most famous caves and the explorers and entrepreneurs whose courage and vision have made the caves a part of the lives of millions of visitors from around the world.
Cudmore and friends explored many of the area’s caves, including some of the spectacular ones that are not public and less well-known, such as Ball’s Cave and Schoharie Caverns in Schoharie County, and Knox Cave in Albany County. Yet to be rediscovered, however, is Lester Howe’s legendary Garden of Eden Cave, which Howe claimed was “bigger and better” than the famous cave he discovered and opened to the public in 1842.
Previously undocumented details taken from years of accumulated research have formed this compelling history, including such exciting recent developments as the sale of Howe Caverns and its rebirth as an adventure destination, the reopening of the Howes Cave quarry, and the creation of a new, first-of-its-kind, museum dedicated to these underground empires.
Dana Cudmore of Cobleskill is a retired communications professional who worked as a newspaper reporter and editor as well as a public relations director in the New York State university system. After running his own agency, Media Services, for a dozen years, he worked as an external affairs officer for a federal disaster response agency before retiring. Among other distinctions, he was a member of the original board of directors of the Cave House Museum of Mining and Geology, created in Howes Cave in 2003. Cudmore’s fascination with caves and Schoharie County’s Cave Country eventually led to his first book, The Remarkable Howe Caverns Story (1990), which was followed by Unearthing Howes Cave: A Community and a Quarry from 1842 On (2005).
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