round 1890, John Kelsey, Heck Miller and Dan Hayter stumbled
onto a cave at the top of Mount Konocti while hunting deer. They climbed down into the
cave entrance, and about 60 feet down a passage, they found a vertical shaft in the floor.
They threw rocks down this shaft, but could not hear them hit bottom.
he cave has been visited many times since then, and
numerous methods have been employed in attempts to determine the depth of the hole. A
large rock was rolled to the hole and dropped down, but was never heard to hit bottom.
A disolate soaked bundle of gunny sacks was set ablaze and dropped down, but never seen to
hit bottom. An 1100 foot ball of string with a rock tied to it was lowered, still no
bottom. To this day, there is no record that the bottom has ever been found.
ometime between 1974 and 1980 the inner passage collapsed
about fifteen feet back from the entrance, and the vertical shaft has not been seen since.
With the passage of time, and the years of heavy growth of foliage, the cave and vent were
forgotten. Until 1990, when a couple of hikers rediscovered the cave in the very heavy
underbrush and reported their find.
n exploration team was formed by Robert Zalusky and Norm
Lehrman, to reopen the cave and to find and measure the vertical lava tube. Their
team of volunteers has been combing Mt. Konocti for over 20 years in search of the hidden
entrances to the mountain, and in pursuit of their dream of proving the existence of the
legendary massive cavern where the molten lava drained from the inside of the mountain, and
the lake inside this cavern where the "blind fish" live, and to preserve the Indian Heritage
that lies within and about this most sacred and mysterious mountain. It is quite likely
that this cavern will prove to be the largest cavern ever discovered in the world.
he journal entries of Robert Zulasky tell a most bittersweet
saga of these more than 20 years of successes and failures, their boundless dedication and
respect, the overwhelming support of so many professionals, and the heartbreaking set-backs
caused by the few that have opposed the project.
lthough at the time of this writing, I have yet to meet Mr.
Zulasky in person, as the author of this website, I spent well over two hundred hours
transcribing these journal entries, and I must admit that many times I found myself jumping
out of my chair with the joy that I could feel with Bob's successes. I found myself
in tears over the heartbreaking set-backs. At times, I was filled with rage, other
times I felt every bit as discouraged as Bob must have felt; and other times, simply
melancholy. His pages came to life with stories of opponents not only becoming allies,
but becoming dear friends to Bob and his wife Lorraine, and I shared in his grief at their
he story of the Konocti Project is much more than a scientific
study of a mountian, it is the story of real people sharing real dreams.
David J. Clements