What lies below caves and tunnels under the quad-cities barb ickes qctimes.com e payment electricity bill maharashtra


Throughout the Quad-Cities, coal and limestone mining were necessary and profitable operations in the late 1800s and early 1900s. One of the country’s largest mining operations continues today, pulling about 2 million tons of high-quality limestone from a huge mine between Davenport and Buffalo.

The elder Cordes ran to police that April day in 1963, and authorities uncovered the remains of Julius Dean Carpentier, 13, and Nicholas Rita, 12. The pair was doing something many children in the area of 34th Street had been doing for years — digging in the sandy clay of a 25-foot-tall hillside known as "swallow cliffs" for the birds that built nests into it.

Twenty years later, Matt Cordes remembers his adventures in the old mine as if they happened yesterday. He even recalls the moment he heard his dad’s voice from above and scurried back to the opening, where a hand reached in and pulled him by his T-shirt to the surface.

Now 37, Cordes was 16 years old when he and a buddy, Nathan Harvey, found an odd crevice in a hillside east of 34th Street. They shimmied down a tree root, curious to see where the opening led. At the bottom of a sloping 20-foot passage, a beach and a lake appeared, then a massive room — its ceiling some 20 feet above the water.

Cordes had the presence of mind to instruct one of the boys to stay ashore. The cave was immensely dark, and their flashlights were sufficient to light only what lay directly in front of them. The vast darkness diluted the beam of their flashlights, so one of the boys was assigned to remain on shore, shining his flashlight on the lake as a constant orientation.

"It was one giant lake and cavern, and it had these stone pillars all around. In some places, I’d estimate the water was at least 10 feet deep, and you could see the bottom. It was another 15 or 20 feet to the cave’s ceiling from the surface of the water.

Asked whether city workers have encountered any tell-tale signs of the bears’ cage, Robbin Dunn, communications and preparedness manager for Davenport Public Works responded in an email: "A few of us have also heard of and seen old pictures of a cave/cavern north of River Drive at Mound (Street) thought to once be connected to a brewery, but none of us have any specific detail or information regarding its existence, other than what we have seen or heard." Mines aplenty

As senior principal for Bettendorf-based engineering and science consulting firm Terracon, Ken Beck is one of the people most familiar with the Quad-Cities’ underside. The company performs ground-penetrating radar, among other pre-construction services. Mining activity was commonplace throughout the area, he said.

"It really astonishes me: In all the 30-plus years I’ve worked here, we see the shafts pop open," Beck said. "But I’ve never seen anything that was the direct result of a subsided coal mine. The advantage is that most of these mines were pretty small. When they collapse, the soil does tend to build a bridge." Linwood mine

When the limestone is all used up, portions of the mine that have not been backfilled could become public space, Wilmshurst said. Some old quarries are made into natural parks, he said, while others are used for cold storage. In Linwood’s case, the mine is too damp, he said, to be of much use for storage.

In some cases, he said, abandoned quarries become attractive to residential developers, because they offer lakeside living. A mile or more of underground mine, however, will require a creative approach when the time comes. Captured imagination

"There were some small documented caves on the bluffs on the west end of Arsenal Island in the late 1800s, but I don’t think they extended into the rock layer for any significant distance," Augustana’s Strasser said. "As for large, natural caves, I’m pretty doubtful of their existence.