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Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States

Located in White River State Park in the heart of Indianapolis, the Indiana State Museum is a wonderful place to find everything you never expected. Whether you are a visitor to the state or a life-long Hoosier, this world-class institution will allow you to explore Indiana’s past, present and future through artistic, cultural and scientific exhibits. Starting with the birth of earth and tracing Hoosier history into the 21st century, the museum offers an eclectic and ever-changing adventure. Constructed of all Indiana materials including limestone, sandstone, steel, brick and glass, the museum’s exhibit space covers 72,000 square feet, and the organization maintains a collection of more than 400,000 artifacts. From the soaring Great Hall showcasing Robert Indiana’s INDIANA obelisk to 92 pieces of sculpture representing the 92 Indiana counties, even the building itself is a work of art. The museum is the crossroads of everything interesting, educational and unique about the state. The museum's collection began in 1862. The new building opened in 2002.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

MEGENITY CAVE DIG
Day 2, July 18, 2006

Good day today. We had eleven people working, and because it was the first day, we weren’t all busy all the time, but good progress was made in preparation for tomorrow.

Even though I’ve been going to this dig for several years now, today was actually the first day that I worked in the cave. Considering it was a nice, ambient 55 degrees or so in the cave, I think I lucked out. That compared to the steamy 95 degrees that it reached outside.

So, we spent much of the morning moving gear into the cave. First, buckets, then other gear, like mapping equipment and digging tools. Finally, our trusty Denver, who is in fact an exhibit fabricator at the museum, and who has been coming on this dig for ages, began setting up the tram system, and those of us around followed directions.

Why, exactly, a tram system? The cave is actually a fairly long cave, and toward the front is a lengthy, straight section that goes down and up and way down, and back up. So, the train tracks are made for buckets. This brings me back to the thought that I had yesterday about the custom-built nature of the things that we use here. This little tram system that we use, built of two-by-fours, is only used on this dig, and was made as a solution. Once the diggers start digging, the buckets full of dirt move their way, via human chain, through tight squeezes, over boulders, until they reach the tram, where the bucket is hooked onto a rope and pulled up, into the twilight.

This day, once the digging began, I was the bucket hooker, and I sat most of the day wedged between some rocks there. It was actually a fairly easy day for me, because I didn’t have to move around much, and the digging is always slow on the first day.

Other people were working outside, moving the buckets down the hill, to the little tractor, to pull the buckets over to the screening station. Just as the screeners started getting into the groove, the water pump froze up, and the backup pump had to be pulled out of the van.

After this slight glitch, things started moving more smoothly for the screeners, and they were still running dirt through when the cave crew came up into the light. We ended at about 6 today, and had dinner at a nice Chinese place.

Tomorrow, why buckets are god and other tidbits.

Peggy Fisherkeller
Curator of Geology
Indiana State Museum