National Speleological Society

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National Speleological Society
Logo of the National Speleological Society
Abbreviation NSS
Formation Bill Stephenson, January 1, 1941; 74 years ago (1941-01-01)
Wm. Shrewsbury
Main organ
Board of Governors
Affiliations American Association for the Advancement of Science, International Union of Speleology

The National Speleological Society (NSS) is an organization formed in 1941 to advance the exploration, conservation, study, and understanding of caves in the United States. Originally located in Washington D.C., its current offices are in Huntsville, Alabama. The organization engages in mapping, cleaning, scientific study, purchase and gating of caves. It has more than 10,000 members in more than 250 grottos.[1]


The Speleological Society of the District of Columbia (SSDC) was formed on May 6, 1939 by Bill Stephenson. In the fall of 1940, the officers of the SSDC drafted a proposed constitution that would transform the SSDC into the National Speleological Society. On January 24, 1941, Bill Stephenson sent a letter to all members of the SSDC announcing that "on January 1 the Society was reorganized as a national organization."[2]

On February 6, 1974, a pioneering cave diver named Sheck Exley became the first chairman of the Cave Diving Section of the National Speleological Society.[3][4] The new section began with 21 members in 10 different states.[3]


The NSS produces a number of publications, including:

  • NSS News, monthly
  • Journal of Cave and Karst Studies (quarterly), formerly NSS Bulletin (from 1940–1995).
  • Membership Manual, yearly
  • American Caving Accidents, every few years

A Grotto is an internal organization of the National Speleological Society (NSS). They generally function as the local NSS chapter/club. Many Grottos however, operate in areas outside of their local area, with many operating in several states.[5] Most Grottos also participate in Regions which are loose associations of Grottos.[5] Regions are also an internal organization of the National Speleological Society.[5]


Grottos are required to meet certain organizational requirements as outlined by the National Speleological Society. These include:[6]

  • A constitution and bylaws that are submitted to, and approved by, the NSS.
  • A minimum of at least five members of the Society.
  • It is NSS policy that full membership in a Grotto requires NSS membership. However, in practice, this is often not the case.

An annual report describing various aspects of the Grotto is submitted to the NSS.


The New England Grotto was the first NSS Grotto. It was chartered in 1941 with Clay Perry as president and Ned Anderson as vice-president.[7]


The organization is currently divided into 11 regions:

  • Arizona Regional Association (ARA)
  • Mid-Appalachian Region (MAR)
  • Mississippi Valley-Ozark Region (MVOR)
  • Northeastern Regional Organization (NRO)
  • Northwest Caving Association (NCA)
  • Rocky Mountain Region
  • Southeastern Regional Association (SERA)
  • Southwestern Region (SWR)
  • Texas Speleological Association (TSA)
  • Virginia Region (VAR)
  • Western Region

Within these regions are local chapters known as grottos. The grottos carry out the local level recreational and conservation-related business of the NSS.


Here are the Grottos of the NSS as listed in 2009.[5]


  • Birmingham Grotto
  • Central Alabama Grotto
  • Cullman Grotto
  • Gadsden Grotto
  • Huntsville Grotto
  • Jackson County Grotto
  • Montgomery Grotto


  • Glacier Grotto


  • Central Arizona Grotto
  • Cochise County Cavers
  • Escabrosa Grotto
  • Mule Mountain Caving Club
  • Northern Arizona Grotto
  • Southern Arizona Grotto


  • Boston Mountain Grotto
  • Central Region Arkansas Grotto
  • COBRA Grotto
  • Little Rock Grotto[8]
  • Middle Ozark Lower Earth Society MOLES


  • Desert Dog Troglodytes
  • Diablo Grotto
  • Mother Lode Grotto
  • San Diego Grotto
  • San Francisco Bay Chapter of the NSS
  • San Joaquin Valley
  • Shascade Caving Society
  • Shasta Area Grotto
  • Southern California Grotto
  • Stanislaus Speleology Association
  • Waldo Brothers Grotto


  • Colorado Grotto
  • Colorado Western Slope Grotto
  • Front Range Grotto
  • Northern Colorado Grotto
  • Red Canyon Grotto
  • Southern Colorado Mountain
  • Timberline Grotto


  • Central Connecticut Grotto


  • Commander Cody Caving Club

District of Columbia

  • District of Columbia Grotto


  • Central Florida Grotto
  • Flint River Grotto
  • Florida Speleological Society
  • Tampa Bay Area Grotto


  • Athens Speleological Society
  • Augusta Cave Masters
  • Clayton County Cavers
  • Clock Tower Grotto
  • Dogwood City Grotto
  • Middle Georgia Grotto
  • Pigeon Mountain Grotto


  • none based out of Hawaii


  • Bear River Grotto
  • Gem State Grotto
  • Silver Sage Grotto


  • Little Egypt Grotto
  • Near Normal Grotto
  • Rock River Speleological Society
  • Sub-Urban Chicago Grotto
  • Windy City Grotto


  • Bloomington Indian Grotto
  • Central Indiana Grotto
  • Eastern Indiana Grotto
  • Evansville Metropolitan Grotto
  • Harrison-Crawford Grotto
  • Northern Indiana Grotto
  • Saint Joseph Valley Grotto
  • Western Indiana Grotto


  • Iowa Grotto


  • Kansas Speleological Society


  • Blue Grass Grotto
  • Fort Knox Grotto
  • Green River Grotto
  • Hart of Kentucky Grotto
  • Louisville Grotto
  • Pine Mountain Grotto
  • Rockcastle Regional Grotto


  • Crescent City Cavers


  • none based out of Maine


  • Baltimore Grotto
  • Frederick Grotto
  • Sligo Grotto
  • Western Maryland Grotto


  • Boston Grotto


  • Detroit Urban Grotto
  • Michigan Interlakes Grotto
  • Western Michigan Grotto


  • Minnesota Speleological Society


  • JUST Cavers


  • Branson Area Tri-Lakes Grotto
  • Chouteau Grotto
  • Kansas City Area Grotto
  • Meramec Valley Grotto
  • Middle Mississippi Valley Grotto
  • Missouri Sch. Mines Spelunkers Club
  • Ozark Highlands Grotto
  • SEMO Grotto
  • Springfield Plateau Grotto
  • Stygian Grotto


  • Northern Rocky Mountain Grotto


  • none based out of Nebraska


New Hampshire

  • none based out of New Hampshire

New Jersey

  • Central New Jersey Grotto
  • New Jersey Tri-State Speleological Society
  • Northern New Jersey Grotto

New Mexico

  • Guadalupe Grotto
  • Hondo Grotto
  • Mesilla Valley Grotto
  • New Mexico Tech Student Grotto
  • Parajito Grotto
  • Pecos Valley Grotto
  • Sandia Grotto
  • Sierra Blanca Grotto
  • Whites Sands Grotto

New York

  • Helderberg-Hudson Grotto
  • Met Grotto
  • Niagara Frontier Grotto
  • Rensselaer Outing Club
  • Shawangunk-Catskill Area Grotto
  • Syracuse University Outing

North Carolina

  • Bryson City Grotto
  • Flittermouse Grotto
  • Triangle Troglodytes

North Dakota

  • none based out of North Dakota


  • Central Ohio Grotto
  • Cleveland Grotto
  • Dayton Underground Grotto
  • Greater Cincinnati Grotto
  • Miami Valley Grotto
  • Ohio Cavers and Climbers
  • Red-Eye Karst Team
  • Shady Grove Grotto
  • Standing Stone Grotto
  • Wittenberg University Speleological Society


  • Arbuckle Mountains Grotto
  • Central Oklahoma Grotto
  • Tulsa Regional OK Grotto



  • Bald Eagle Grotto
  • Bucks County Grotto
  • Buffalo Valley Grotto
  • Cave Hill Grotto
  • Franklin County Grotto
  • Greater Allentown Grotto
  • Huntingdon County Cave Hunters
  • Loyalhanna Grotto
  • Nittany Grotto
  • Pennsylvania Inner-Earth Grotto
  • Philadelphia Grotto
  • Pittsburgh Grotto
  • Seven Valleys Grotto
  • York Grotto

Rhode Island

  • none based out of Rhode Island

South Carolina

  • South Carolina Interstate Grotto

South Dakota

  • Paha Sapa Grotto


  • Chattanooga Grotto
  • Clarksville Underground
  • Devilstep Grotto
  • East Tennessee Grotto
  • Nashville Grotto
  • Obey River Grotto
  • Sewanee Mountain Grotto
  • Six Ridges Grotto
  • Smoky Mountain Grotto
  • Southport Chronic Cavers
  • Spencer Mountain Grotto
  • Tennessee Central Basin Grotto
  • Upper Cumberland Grotto


  • Aggie Speleological Society
  • Bexar Grotto
  • Cowtown Grotto
  • Dallas-Fort Worth Grotto
  • Galveston Grotto
  • Greater Houston Grotto
  • Lubbock Area Grotto[9]
  • Permian Basin Speleological Society
  • UT Grotto


  • Salt Lake Grotto[10]
  • Timpanogos Grotto
  • Utah Grotto[11]
  • Wasatch Grotto[12]


  • Vermont Cavers Association


  • Battlefield Area Troglodyte Society
  • Blue Ridge Grotto
  • Charlottesville Grotto
  • Fairfax Underground Network
  • Front Royal Grotto
  • Grapevine Grotto
  • James River Grotto
  • Madison University Student Grotto
  • Mid-Virginia Underground Grotto
  • Mountain Empire Grotto
  • New River Valley Grotto
  • Richmond Area Speleological Society
  • Tidewater Grotto
  • Virginia Highlands Grotto
  • VPI Cave Club


  • Cascade Grotto

West Virginia

  • Charleston Grotto
  • ESSO Grotto
  • Germany Valley Grotto
  • Greater Randolph (GROSS)
  • Monongahela Grotto
  • Monroe County Cavers
  • Mountain State Grotto
  • Parkersburg Area Grotto
  • TRA Grotto
  • Tri-State Grotto
  • West Virginia University Student Grotto


  • Great Lakes Cavers
  • Wisconsin Speleological Society[13]


  • Armpit Grotto
  • Hole-in-the-Wall Grotto


  • Anthros Costa Rica Grotto
  • Balincaguin Conservancy Grotto[14]
  • PAAMUL - Gruta de


  • Gypsy Underground Grotto
  • Stonewall Cavers

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The National Speleological Society". 
  2. ^ Caving in America, National Speleological Society, Huntsville, AL. 1991. ISBN 0-9615093-7-6
  3. ^ a b Staff. "Cave Diving Section of the National Speleological Society was founded". Retrieved 2013-04-20. 
  4. ^ Kendrick, DF (2009). "Science of the National Association for Cave Diving (NACD): Water Quality, Hydrogeology, Biology and Psychology". In: Pollock NW, ed. Diving for Science 2009. Proceedings of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences 28th Symposium. Dauphin Island, AL: AAUS; 2009. Retrieved 2013-04-20. 
  5. ^ a b c d Weberg, Meredith Hall (2010). NSS News Members Manual. National Speleological Society. pp. 2, 53–65. 
  6. ^ "Policy for Internal Organizations" (PDF). National Speleological Society. 
  7. ^ Caving in America. Huntsville, AL: National Speleological Society. 1991. ISBN 0-9615093-7-6. 
  8. ^ "Little Rock Grotto - [LRG] - Arkansas Cavers". 
  9. ^ "Lubbock Area Grotto". 
  10. ^ "Salt Lake Grotto". Facebook. 
  11. ^ "Utah Grotto - of the National Speleological Society". 
  12. ^ "Wasatch Grotto". 
  13. ^ "Wisconsin Speleological Society (WSS)". 
  14. ^ "Balincaguin Conservancy". 

External links[edit]