I built this site for my Dad in 2000 and although he was a learned man he never went to high-school,
he graduated from the 8th Grade and then attended Coyne Electric school in Chicago Illinois when he was 18.
All his Knowledge was gained through reading and exploring He was a Self Taught Geologist and Prospector
who taught others from experience and practical applications he learned on his own.

I transcribed from his small pocket tape-recorder the words he spoke.
He passed away in September of 2010 these memories will live on.
Clicking on the blue text will link to pictures I have added.

A Report by Tom Sims

This Report is on parts of my life involved with the
Lehman Caves National Monument:

.....I was inside the Caves before Mr. Rhoads (Mr. Rhoads who owned the ranch where the existing Monument Property Laid) turned it over to the Government. I was 6 years old on my first trip through the Caves. I can remember the tour went down through the top, down a ladder and it had a Register book in the first big room just at the bottom of the ladder. You then had to work your way on down to the main rooms and about halfway through the Cave we had to crawl through a narrow passage they later termed Fat Mans Misery. The tours in those early days used carbide lights, (a small miners lantern that used carbide and water to create a small flame) these lamps were used to inscribe names and or initials on the ceiling of what is now called the inscription room and some of the people in one of the school groups (12 to 18 people) from the Gandy School that I was with, did smoke their initials in that room.


.....Before they made the new entrance you came out the same way you went in. Up through the same narrow passage and up the ladder out to the surface to the opening where Mr. Lehman (described in the Park Literature Book) actually discovered the Cave.

.....I can remember a Log Building that was used for a Dance Hall And just below that, lay a small swimming pool.see map On this occasion, Later in the day while visiting My uncle John Fielding's Ranch, my older brothers and the Fielding Kids went back up to the picnic and dance.. During the Day at The Picnic sponsored by Mr. Rhoads, A confrontation broke out Between Mr. Tom Deardan and Mr. Orville Joseph. During the scuffling Mr. Joseph got cut up going through the barbed wire fence, which encircled the Orchard (Fruit trees are still standing in that area). Mr. Joseph worked for Mr. Dearden at the time. My oldest brother Oscar also worked for Tom Deardan at a later date.

......Every Year The Gandy School planned a trip to the Caves as a School outing. The School children and all the families would attend these outings. So all my Brothers and sisters should be found in that register about 1938. Then in About 1945 my brother Bill Sims and I came home on leave from the service, we Along with John Fielding made a tour through The Cave.

.....Later on after I was discharged from the Army in 1947. Mr. John Fielding was injured in a Car accident, the Superintendent of the Lehman Caves, Max Wainright asked if I would take over the maintenance, because of my Background in the Electric field. And they also wanted me to make someGuided Tours through the cave, as I had taken several tours with my Uncle John Fielding and knew the Caves quite well.

.....My Uncle was laid up for almost 8 months and I continued to take tours and do maintenance during that period. At that time see map our office was in the old Log house, we lived in the cabins and Mr. Wainwrite (the Cave superintendent) lived in the main houses with his wife and his daughter. My Brother Oscar , while attending college at The University of Texas, Lived with me in the Upper cabin. During that time he filled the position of part time Uniformed Seasonal Guide.

.....During those early years, the old road came up through Baker and up the hill And across above the Rolland Ranch, or you had to come through the Fielding Ranch which was a very rough rocky road, a lot of theold cars would Over heat and boil especially in the hot summer time, there were also a lot of Flat tires due to the rocky conditions of the road. Sometimes people would be Late getting to the Caves due to these obstacles, sometimes as late as 8 or 9:00 PM. I've taken a lot of tours at those late hours to accommodate people, because of the many miles they had to travel out there to see the Caves. My brother Oscar and Even Mr. Wainwrite at times would take these late tours. We operated the lights in the Cave with a Hercules Diesel, but only for Day Time use, during the night we used a 1500-watt Kohler gas light plant. Because the small plant would not run the lights in the cave we would have to take these tours with lanterns.

.....Sometimes after hours we'd go exploring in the Cave, Lawrence Fielding, Johnny Fielding and myself and sometimes Mr. Wainwrite would explore different Areas In the caves. And it was in the finding of the lost River passage that we finally managed to chisel over that little bank, and I was lowered down while I was holding a rope because at that point you couldn't see where the Floor was. We were the first people down into that particular area from that Direction. In breaking down in to this area on our first trip, we found the Skeleton of a dog, which apparently had entered from some crack or small cave Opening by the old powerhouse. There was only a skeleton remaining, which we left intact. And then continuing down the same passage that is now called the lost River passage. But we went down as far as you could go there. There were two rough spots that you had to squeeze through to get into that Passage. On that trip was the only time I ever wrote anything in the cave. My Initials and the date are in that passage. They should be on a wall close to where we came down into it.

.....While I was employed for Mr. Wainwrite,Ansel Adams did a feature on Lehman Caves, taking numerous photographs inside. I spent a couple of nights with Mr. Adams. Mr. Adams and I would move the lanterns and set the lights around so he could get the best lighting for his photos. I helped Mr. Adams set up his camera, lights and gear for this project.

.....During the time of my employment in 1947 we stored all the Fire fighting Equipment in a shed in the draw above the present visitors center. On one Occasion I spent several nights up on the mountain straight above the National Monument on a Fire. Everyone available in the Valley would come help fight Fire during the day. And I took two nights as the night watchman putting out Blazes, We lucked out and didn't have heavy winds, and we were able to contain the Fire in a relatively small area.

.....Every morning we would start the Hercules Diesel plant and would Radio Boulder City, to give daily reports and get any special orders for the day. To make Connection, we couldn't get Boulder direct so Overton would relay our messages on into Boulder City.

.....From there I was transferred to The Head Office in Boulder City. I took care of all the camp grounds and the maintenance of all the Vehicles. During that Time we also performed the required maintenance on Lehman Caves. My immediate Supervisor was Mr. Charles Shepard. However during most of my service spent in Boulder City, Mr. George Bagley Was the Superintendent Of The Park Service Stationed at Lake Mead.

.....During the period when Mr. Rhoads owned the property he obtained water from the springs (and maybe later from Lehman Creek) with a pipeline to operate a hydraulic ram. There was a concrete box that was situated under the road about Halfway to where the present picnic grounds are now. This ram would raise the water up to His house. The excess water from the ram was collected in a pond, and I Imagine That created the existing pond.

.....At a later time when I operated the Garage in Baker, The Snake Valley Reunion Was formed. For a number of years after that we used this Hydraulic Ram Box To cook our beef in for the Snake Valley Reunion Picnic, held on Labor Day weekend. Later on a new box was constructed over in the Picnic area on Lehman Creek.

......During my time in 1966 while I was guiding people, during the spring break Crowd, I think it was Easter Sunday; we had four or five Guides with people Scattered through out the Cave, we lost the power on the engine generator. I left the people in my tour with flashlights to see with and went back out. The problem was a faulty rheostat in the Cat generator, I was able to move the rheostat and re-adjust another resistor to allow me to keep it at 60 cycles. Which gave me enough voltage to run the cave with all the lights on, providing No one shut off any switches, in which case the voltage would run too high. Within a period of about Two hours I had the rheostat set up properly and returned to finish my tour. With another rheostat on order we were able to run the cave with my temporary Repairs until I could repair it properly.

.....On another tour one weekend we lost an electric switch at the Elephants Ear, The rest of the cave was working but that area was in total darkness, so to finish the tour I had to go out and get lanterns and take back to negotiate that portion of the cave.

......Another time while working there a lady from Beaver, Utah, I think she was in her 70's and quite heavy, broke her ankle at the Ice Cream Cones, so Daw Robinson, Howard Baker, and I took a chair in and tied the lady to a Chair to enable us to carefully move her, until we could get to Wedding Cake. At the Wedding Cake there was no way to move her around on a chair, to accomplish those particular tight corners we would have to take her off the Chair and hold her in an upright position, then we would carry her through the Area then set her back on the chair. We extracted her in this fashion. She was a very wonderful lady; she sent thank you letters to all of us and the caves for our courtesy, and the work we did getting her out of there. It was really appreciated.

.....during this period under Mr. Wainwrite, one occasion Mr. Wainwrite was In Ely on Cave business, the same day, while there were only two tour guides on the Monument the Beaver High School come through.(If I remember correctly there were about 140 People) Parents, Kids and Teachers on that tour. And boy don't Think that wasn't a rough time to keep everyone together, the only way I Could control them inside the cave was by the light switches. I would turn Lights on in the next area, take the tour to the lighted area, then go Back and turn the lights out behind us then return and tour through the Lighted area. In this fashion I could control the group so there wasn't any Accidental breakage or wandering off trail.

.....In 1966 a particularly dry year, the cave became very dry and the formations were getting chalky from lack of moisture. We put a pipeline into the cave; it was placed to reach the swamp area. Then water could be flooded into the second Gardens in order to bring the moisture content up in the cave. Howard Baker and I were involved with this project.

.....On the completion of the 1966 project, which included a new Visitor Center, the Power completed over the Hill to the new Generator System, and the new housing area. ...(How it looked before)At the time of the Dedication Program we didn't have a regular PA system. However Mr. Steel had picked up a PA used for Beach Landings at the War Surplus store in Salt Lake City. I managed to get it working, but it had to to be turned low, because I'm sure if turned up the people in Baker would have heard us all. Because this unit only had one Microphone, I to stay on the Stage and hand the microphone to each individual as he took his turn to talk.

.....The house that I lived in with My Family was the original Superintendents House. This house was moved to the new housing from the area where the Present Visitors Center is. This house (the first one on the circle) is where My Oldest Boy Gerry was married April 5th, 1963 to Bertha Perkins who lived in the valley At Silver Creek. Mr. Eli Evasovich (The Justice of the Peace in Ely) came out from Ely and Performed the Marriage.

.....When Bucky Hesselgesser and Nina Kelly got married, they were married in the Cave in the wedding chapel. Nina put her hairpin on one of the formations in the Wedding Chapel, I wasn't at that particular wedding, but for a quite a lot of years after that, the ladies on tours continued putting hair pins in that area Until finally it almost amounted to litter so the practice was Abandoned.

.....In summation, the Lehman Caves and the National Monument takes up quite a part of my younger life and in doing so was certainly a pleasure and set the grounds for rest of my life's work.

.....I was born about 2 miles below the cave on the John Fielding Ranch. In the Early years I spent a lot of time there. Mr. John Fielding worked for the Caves both part time and full time. So with him being in that category, the Cave was a common point of interest for us children and as we got Older, Holidays were spent visiting at the Fieldings, which usually included a tour of the Cave. My First tour that I can recall I was 6 years old. So if still available the register from that period should include names of all my Sisters and brothers and the rest of the Gandy School and teachers.

.....After coming back from the service I spent considerable time visiting the Fielding Ranch. During that period I took the place of Mr. John Fielding after his accident. Then I was transferred down to Lake Mead, where we still took care of the cave, I was under Mr. George Bagley at that point.

Even During Wartime the boys would meet at the Fielding Ranch and make trips through the cave.

.....Later on I had a business in Baker (The operation of the Local Garage), After a time I went to work for the Caves again full time and worked in The maintenance portion of the Caves, Still making tours when the other Guides were not available. I was involved in all the projects that took Place during the 1966 re-construction phase.

.....My Brother George while hunting for a band of his sheep on Spring Mountain, near Gandy, Utah (Approx 40 miles north of Baker) discovered a small opening in the mountain, he could see down into the first big room but this opening was full of dirt and he couldn't get past. So he later got Cecil Bates and together they pushed the dirt away and a few days later they come to Baker and got me and we widened the opening and The Crystal Ball Cave was discovered. After development of the cave (under the then existing mining laws) to accommodate tours, I endeavored to make sure All the people that were employed at the Lehman Caves National Monument, were taken on a tour of the Crystal Ball Cave, there is similarity in the two caves (limestone Formations, stalactites and stalagmites), and there is the uniqueness of clusters of crystals in the Crystal Ball Cave. During this period Mr. Keith Trexler (The Cave Naturalist) took lots of pictures in the Crystal Ball Cave and we traded pictures of the various cave formations. I also took family groups, Baker school groups, and National Spelunker Groups through the Crystal Ball Cave and even a Reporter out of Salt Lake City (KSL Channel 5 News) Bruce Lindsay and Mr. Greenwood (I forget his first name) who did a remote TV feature On this unique Cave. There also was a feature story on this cave in the Elko Daily Free Press dated Monday, November 26,1979. Article is enclosed:

.....The Crystal Ball Cave is unique in the formation of Dog-Tooth Spar Crystals That grew in a cluster, then as the calcite was brought in with the moisture The clusters were covered over forming Balls which covered the Floor and Walls of the cave. With my 2/3 interest of the cave and the other 1/3 interest Belonging to Cecil Bates (my brother-in-law). I installed an engine generator and lighting in the Cave, constructed trails through the mountain and back around to the starting point to accommodate tour groups. Then later after I retired from the Federal Aviation Administration, I traded my interest in the Crystal Ball Cave for Cecil's interest in another Mining property. During the period I had control I was working quite heavily trying to get the This Cave under a National Monument heading because I believe both of these Caves are a valuable historic resource and should be preserved for future generations.

.....During the 1966 project the engineer from California came to handle the power cables, the entire final hook-ups throughout the cave, and the installation of the diesel generators. But after the engineer left no one quite understood any of concepts of three-phase power. In the old Maintenance Shed up in the canyon above the rest rooms we called the work sheds, I taught Mr. Kaufman, the Superintendent, and Employees at that time the principles of Three Phase Power. I still have some of the drawings I Used to teach those classes.

.....Park Service officials of Lake Mead and the head office employees from Boulder City had been coming up for years to hunt during deer season. In this group Was Art Menish (Maintenance Forman Lake Mead), Bob Beard (Electric Forman For Lake Mead), Perry Giles (Supervisor of Overton Beach). They would meet at the Fielding Ranch and at the Caves. A lot of the mornings we'd pick up everybody at the caves and we'd go deer hunting.

.....While I was in business at the Baker Garage, we formed a Square Dance club and we'd dance at different places, we danced in the streets of Baker, at the Nevada State Highway Storage Sheds and wherever it was convenient. We moved around quite a lot and being as some of the rangers were part of our square Dance club, we did some of the dances up on the circle at The Lehman Caves. Everyone's Family's would attend these square dances and we usually had a Potluck supper along with the activities and we always had great times.