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Roubidoux Spring

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LOCATION: Inside Laughlin Park on the south side of Waynesville, MO. 

SIZE: Ranked as the 16th largest spring in the state with an average discharge of 37 million gallons of water a day.  View the stream gage here or here.

OWNERS: Owned and maintained by the city of Roubiodoux, the spring is a certified site on the National Park Service National Historic Trail as an encampment on the Trail of Tears.

DIVING HISTORY:

1969 -Don Rimbach with the help of John Viper cleared the spring opening and were the first known divers to enter the spring. They explored and sketched the tunnel back to the “Pit” area, which we now call the first drop-off. Don had a chance to buy the spring from a man named Shindler in 1974 for $2000. At the time funds weren’t available.

1970’s -Roger Miller heard about Roubidoux spring from reading a note in an NSS newsletter, which had Don Rimbach’s phone number. After contacting Don to get the location of the spring, Rodger and Frank Fogerty explored Roubidoux in the 1970′s and mapped the spring back to approximately 1400′ or the start of the “Big Room”. On one of their survey dives they got turned around while relocating the line and went the wrong way (hence the name “Which Way Tunnel”).

1980’s – Dave Porter and Rodger Gliedt explored Roubidoux past the Big Room using scooters. Along with Frank Howard they mapped the upper tunnel to the first drop and also installed the first “STOP” sign.

1990’s – Kurt Olsen, Mike Husack, Dave Porter, Doug Chappell and others conducted exploration dives in Roubidoux in the 90’s. Most of these dives were on air with O2 for deco. The most publicized dive being a dive team of Kurt Olsen and Robert Laird in August of 1996 in which they discovered a large room past the third drop-off. Olsen and Husack with the help of Bill Morrison and Paul Kaufman surveyed and created a map of Roubidoux out past 2500’.

1997 – Jason Weisacosky and Tom O’Connor start exploring and surveying Roubidoux from the end of the Olsen/Laird line.

1998 – Weisacosky and O’Connor officially formed the OCDA and continued exploration past the large room named “Lithuania”.

1999 – OCDA team members decide to start surveying the newly explored sections of Roubidoux.

2000 – OCDA members replace 700’ of damaged small exploration line from the 2000’ penetration area to aid in ongoing exploration and surveying operations.

2001 – The OCDA decided to make the on going work to map Roubidoux an official project, and present a finished copy of the map to the local authorities in appreciation of past and continued access. It is also decided to make the map publicly available to promote awareness and safety to divers using the site. Exploration continued with the greatest emphasis directed towards surveying and mapping the already explored parts of the spring.

2002 – The OCDA explored Roubidoux spring to a total distance of over 5800’ at depths up to 264′ on the ceiling. Survey data was gathered on the newly explored sections along with two side tunnels and were compiled onto a map. Since this point in time conditions have never really stabilized long enough for visibility to return to normal. Water clarity has been steadily going downhill and may be associated with new construction going on upstream in the spring’s recharge area.

2007 – The OCDA completes new habitat construction in the cavern zone in preparation for renewed exploration and survey of the far reaches of the system. The old habitat design was outdated and having reached the end of it’s useful life was removed from the system.

2011 – With dry weather conditions in October, visibility improves to 25 feet and the OCDA begins preliminary work to extend the survey in Roubidoux Spring, including repairing the main line and gathering the last bit of survey data from the line placed by the team in 2002.  One hundred feet of new line is installed on the last dive of the year.

2012 – A hundred-year drought in the Ozarks finally allows conditions to improve enough to give the OCDA a chance to explore Roubidoux spring after a ten year hiatus.  Visibility reaches up to 30ffw and flow is very low.  The team makes project dives to set up and explore an addition 2500 feet of cave passage.  Total explored distance is now 8300′, of which 7200′ of the tunnel is surveyed.  The habitat is well-used, and 10 hour underwater times are commonplace.

2014 – With improved conditions and some real long weekends the system has now been pushed out to 11,528′ at a relatively modest depth of 145′.

NOTES: Roubidoux Spring is open to certified cavern/cave divers who must check in and present their cave/cavern certification card to the officials in the 911 Emergency Center prior to diving. The center is located adjacent to the Fire Station on top of the hill off Highway 66 just east of downtown. There is no diving fee or permit required, but be sure to sign out after diving.  Water conditions vary greatly with local rainfall and can change day to day.  As with all springs in the Ozark Region, the best time of the year to dive the springs is late summer and fall seasons when the weather is normally dry.