Hail Bryant Collection

Lyon College Special Collections
Regional Studies Center
Mabee-Simpson Library
Lyon College
P.O. Box 2317
Batesville, AR 72503-2317
Telephone: 870-307-7509



Title:                           Hail Bryant Collection

Accession number:     92-001-AC

Collection size:           4 linear ft. (1 large archival box, 1 oversized map box)

Donor:                        R. Hail Bryant

Repository:                Lyon College Special Collections, Regional Studies Center


Information About Hail Bryant and the Collection

Hail Bryant is a pioneer in northern Arkansas spelunking and helped lead the first expedition that explored and mapped the series of Stone County, Arkansas, caverns now known as Blanchard Springs Caverns.  A native of Batesville, Arkansas, Bryant, along with partner Hugh Shell, first began exploring and mapping the caves of northern Arkansas in the 1950s and 1960s. 

The Hail Bryant Collection contains photographs, slides, newspaper and magazine clippings, maps, and videotaped interviews relating to Bryant’s cave exploration and specifically to the exploration and development of Blanchard Springs Caverns.  The collection also contains a set of cave inspection reports.  Of particular interest is Bryant and Hugh Shell’s hand-drawn map of Half-Mile Cave, which is part of Blanchard Springs Caverns. 

Nancy S. Griffith completed processing in 1992.  Kim Halpain and Judy Blackwell completed detailed indexing and the website finding aid in 2002.  The collection is open for research.



            Blanchard Springs Caverns

            Bryant, Hail

            Cave Exploration—History

            Ozark National Forest

            Shell, Hugh

            Stone County (Ark.)—History


Detailed Series Description 




Folder 1: 

Chronology-     1934-1977; Cave Description and Hail Bryant’s Biography, 2 copies


Folder 2:

            Photograph 1-  Blanchard Caverns:  Entrance to the Spring

            Photograph 2-  Blanchard Caverns:  Hail Bryant on top of Flowstone

            Photograph 3-  Blanchard Caverns:  Hail Bryant and Hugh Shell

            Photograph 4-  Blanchard Caverns:  Large Stalagmite

            Photograph 5-  Blanchard Caverns:  Lower Level along stream

            Photograph 6-  Blanchard Caverns:  1962 Group of People

            Photograph 7-  Blanchard Caverns:  Huge Room in Cave’s Most recently Discovered area

            Photograph 8-Hail Bryant and Mike Hill Upper Level

            Photograph 9-Unidentified Cave

            Photograph 10-Blanchard Caverns:   Giant Flowstone

            Photograph 11-Blanchard Caverns:  “The Giants” Middle Level

            Photograph 12-Blanchard Caverns:  Hail Bryant Standing Behind Large Pile of Bat Guano

            Photograph 13- Blanchard Caverns:  Undeveloped Area-“The Giants” Huge Stalagmites

            Photograph 14- Blanchard Caverns:  Hugh Shell and Hail Bryant

            Photograph 15- Blanchard Caverns:  Hail Bryant; Stalagmite, Upper Level

            Photograph 16- Blanchard Caverns:  Column in Upper Level

            Photograph 17- Blanchard Caverns:  Faye Bryant, Jane McGuffey, ?, Gennie Ford, ? In shaft Left to Right; 1960

            Photograph 18- Blanchard Caverns:  Copy of Photograph 17

            Photograph 19- Blanchard Caverns:  Copy of Photograph 17

            Photograph 20- Hail Bryant in Middle Level

            Photograph 21- Floor Plan Map of ½ Mile Blanchard Caverns

            Photograph 22- Blanchard Caverns:  Hail Bryant in Upper Level; Drapes/Column

            Photograph 23- Blanchard Caverns:  Hail Bryant Upper Level

            Photograph 24- Blanchard Caverns:  Hail Bryant in Upper Level

            Photograph 25- Blanchard Caverns:  “Bone Yard Room”; Large Area; Small Spelunkers

            Photograph 26- Blanchard Caverns:  Hail Bryant Upper Level Last Discovered Area; Stalagmites

            Photograph 27- Blanchard Caverns:  Hail Bryant, Exploring Underground River

            Photograph 28- Blanchard Caverns:  Hugh Shell and Hail Bryant; Cracked Stalactite

            Photograph 29- Blanchard Caverns:  Hugh Shell and R. Handford; Upper Level

            Photograph 30- Blanchard Caverns:  Left-Hugh Shell Right- Mike Hill; Passageway Stream at Bottom

            Photograph 31- Blanchard Caverns:  Hail Bryant; Stalagmites of different sizes

            Photograph 32- Blanchard Caverns:  Tour Maps

            Photograph 33- Blanchard Caverns:  Floor Plan Map of Back of Beyond Area

            Photograph 34- Blanchard Caverns:  Elevator Far Left- Hugh second from left- Mr. Vesey, Forest Service, Atlanta, The Rest are Forest Service Personnel

            Photograph 35- Blanchard Caverns:  Hail Bryant and Mike Hill

            Photograph 36- Blanchard Caverns:  Remains of Indians; Reeds-Cane, Bamboo, and Wood Lying on a Boulder; Skull Found Nearby

            Photograph 37- Blanchard Caverns:  Middle Level; Water and passageway below Route; Christmas Tree (Bottom Stalagmite); Drapes; Large Passage Filled with Calcite Deposits

            Photograph 38- Blanchard Caverns:  Calcite Crystals, Rimming what may have been a pool at one time

            Photograph 39- Blanchard Caverns:  Hail Bryant

            Photograph 40- Blanchard Caverns:  Bats

            Photograph 41- Blanchard Caverns:  Robert Handford On Stalagmite

            Photograph 42- Blanchard Caverns:  Deep in Cave- Undeveloped “Giants”; Far Right- Large Stalactite; Top- Hail Bryant

            Photograph 43- Blanchard Caverns:  4 Spelunkers; Right- Mike Hill, Rogers, Handford

            Photograph 44- Blanchard Caverns:  Hail Bryant; Stalagmites

            Photograph 45- Blanchard Caverns: Coming Down Shaft- Rappelling with Safety Line

            Photograph 46- Blanchard Caverns:  Drapes- Upper Level;

            Photograph 47- Blanchard Caverns:  Hugh Shell; Lower Level- Underground River

            Photograph 48- Blanchard Caverns:  Entrance Shaft

            Photograph 49- Blanchard Caverns:  Descending Entrance Shaft- Rapelling

            Photograph 50- Blanchard Caverns:  Upper Level

            Photograph 51- Blanchard Caverns:  Looking up Shaft at Natural Entrance


Folder 3:

            Magazine Article-         “Bringing a Cavern to Light”; Arkansas Democrat Sunday Magazine; August 18, 1963; two copies


Folder 4:

            Newspaper Article-      “Huge Cavern May Become National Attraction”; Arkansas Democrat; August 2, 1964

            Newspaper Article-      “Spelunking Pioneers Frozen Out”; Batesville Guard; September 1, 1964

            Newspaper Article-      “It Beats Carlsbad Cavern:  Arkansas Boasts Impressive Cave”; Sunday News and Leader; August 23, 1964; two copies

            Newspaper Article-      “Blanchard Springs Caverns Publicized”; Sunday News and Leader; 1964-1965

            Newspaper Article-      “Batesville Explorers show Kiwanis Club Potentials of Huge Cave in Stone County”; Batesville Guard; September 7, 1964

            Newspaper Article-      “Bigger than Carlsbad”; Sunday News & Leader; August 23, 1964

            Newspaper Article-      “Plans Made to Open Big Cave in Stone County, Arkansas, to Public”; St. Louis Dispatch; August 6, 1964

            Newspaper Article-      “Cave, Comparable to Carlsbad, Is only 32 Miles from Salem”; The Salem Headlight; August 27, 1964

            Newspaper Article-      Stone County’s ‘Hole’ is a Whopper”; The Commercial Appeal, Memphis; August 3, 1964

            Newspaper Article-      “Huge Cavern May Become National Attraction”; Arkansas Democrat; August 2, 1964

            Magazine Article-         “A Big Spelunking Dividend Wonders of a Cave Find”; Life; December 18, 1964



Folder 5:

            Magazine-                    Life; December 18, 1946

            Magazine-                    “The Seven Sticks of Half Mile Cave”; The Independence County Chronicle; April 1965

            Newspaper Article-      “Cave Development to Start with $178,000 Allotment”; Batesville Guard; March 26, 1965

            Newspaper Article-      “Panel Allots $178,000 For Blanchard”; Arkansas Gazette; March 26, 1965

            Newspaper Article-      “Blanchard Caverns Featured in New Issue of Chronicle”; Batesville Guard; April 26, 1965

            Newspaper Article-      “Funds Okayed for Blanchard Cavern”; Batesville Guard; June 15, 1965

            Newspaper Article-      “ ‘Hairy Experiences’ Add Thrills to Search of Earth’s Blackness”; Arkansas Democrat Sunday Magazine; January 31, 1965


Folder 6:

            Newspaper Article-      “Resolution of Commendation”; Batesville Guard; February 19, 1965

            Newspaper Article-      “The Ancient Mystery of Blanchard Springs Caverns”; Arkansas Gazette; October 26, 1969

            Resolution-                   Commending Hail Bryant, Hugh Shell, and others; 1969

            Congressional Record- Senate; “Exploration of Blanchard Springs Caverns, Arkansas; March 7, 1969

            Newspaper Article-      “Blanchard Springs Caverns Revisited”; Arkansas Gazette; February 16, 1972


Folder 7:

            Newspaper Article-      “Thor not Silent as 500 Attend Groundbreaking for Center at Caverns”; Arkansas Gazette; June 21, 1970

            Newspaper Article-      “Where Credit is Due”; Batesville Guard; June 23, 1970

            Newspaper Article-      “Second Grant for Caverns is Approved”; Arkansas Gazette; July 16, 1971

            Newspaper Article-      “The Men Who Explored Blanchard Springs Caverns”; Arkansas Gazette; November 22, 1970

            Letter-                          Hail Bryant from Robert K. Strosnider; December 22, 1972

            Letter-                          Hail Bryant from Robert K. Strosnider; April 14, 1971

            Letter-                          Bob Strosnider from Bob Hicks; May 17, 1972

            Letter-                          Hugh Shell and Hail Bryant from Jerry Alexander; April 30, 1971

            Letter-                          Hail Bryant from James S. Sabin, Jr.; August 18, 1971


Folder 8:

            Newspaper Article-      “Blanchard Explorers”; Batesville Guard; June 19, 1973; two copies

            Progress Report-          “Blanchard Springs Caverns”; 1973; Ozark National Forest

            Newspaper Article-      “Ninety Minutes of Beauty await Visitors of Blanchard Springs Caverns”; Batesville Daily Guard; June 1, 1973

            Newspaper Article-      “Blanchard Springs Caverns”; Batesville Daily Guard; June 1, 1973


Folder 9: 

            Newspaper Article-      “Blanchard Explorers Brought Glorious Underworld into Light”; Batesville Daily Guard; March 3, 1982

            Newspaper Article-     “Spelunkers prove Blanchard Springs Caverns Very Unusual”; Arkansas Democrat; May 9, 1982

            Magazine-                    “Caving in to the Lure of the Lair”; Friends:  The Chevy Owners’ Magazine; July 1983

            Magazine-                    “Going Under”; Arkansas Magazine; February 16, 1986


Folder 9a:

            Newspaper Article-      “Batesville Man Tells of Early Exploration of Caverns”; River Country; November 14-20, 1987

            Newspaper Article-      "Local Men Explored Blanchard Caverns"; Batesville Daily Guard River Country; July 15-21, 1995


Folder 10:

            Newspaper Article-      “Batesville Men Love Adventure, Challenge of Exploring Caves”; River Country; July 13-19, 1991


Folder 11:

            Brochure-                     “News about Blanchard Springs Caverns”

            Newspaper Article-      “30-Year Period Brought Several Cave Explorers”; Batesville Guard

            Newspaper Article-      “Scenic Wonders of Half Mile Cavern Shown”; “Rebirth of the Caverns”

            Newspaper Article-      Half-Mile Cave near Blanchard”; Batesville Guard

            Newspaper Article-      Mammoth Cave South of Here May Become Major Tourist Site”


Folder 12:

            Photograph-                 Enis Cave; St. James Area; Edge of Stone County

            Photograph-                 Arnold Cave; St. James Area; Stone County; 1964

            Photograph-                 Martin Cave; Searcy County; Near Landis

            Newspaper Article-      “Uncovered at Rock Quarry”; Batesville Guard; October 11, 1974

            Newspaper Article-      “Navy Diver Dies Following Rescue Operations at Cave”; Batesville Guard; April 6, 1965

            Newspaper Article-      “Local Spelunkers Explore Large Virgin Cave System”; Batesville Daily Guard; November 26, 1974


Folder 13: 

            Photograph-                 Dinosaur Track; S. Arkansas Gypsum Mine

            Newspaper Article-      “Fossil Collectors”; Batesville Daily Guard; June 27, 1966

            Newspaper Article-      “Collector Notes Opportunities for Fossil Finds in Arkansas

            Congress Hearing-        “Hearings before the Subcommittee on National Parks and Recreation of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs House of Representatives”; October 28-29, 1971

            Newspaper Article-      Arkansas has Natural Fallout Shelters-Its Caves”; Arkansas Gazette; November 4, 1962

            Newspaper Article-      “Local Man Builds Collection of Fossils, Minerals, Indian Artifacts”; Batesville Guard; July 6, 1978


Folder 13a:

            Newspaper Article-      “In Return Visit to Cave- Youths Unable to Trap Lion”; Jackson County Democrat; July 31, 1958

            Newspaper Article-      “Crowd Returns, Youths Hoisted From Cavern”; Jackson County Democrat; July 31, 1958

            Newspaper Article-      Newport Youths See ‘Lion’ in Cave”; Jackson County Democrat; July 31, 1958

            Letter-                          Articles Copied from Scrapbook of Michael Broyles; October 8, 1992


Folder 14:

            Pamphlet-                     Recreation Guide; “Blanchard Springs Caverns:  Sylamore Ranger District Ozark National Forest, Arkansas”; May 1989

            Visitor Guide-               “Sylamore Splash”; Visitor Guide to the Sylamore Ranger District 1989

            Pamphlet-                     “Welcome to Blanchard Springs Caverns, Arkansas”; 1981

            Paper-                          “Blanchard Facts”

            Paper-                          “Bats”

            Paper-                          “Geology of Blanchard Springs Caverns”

            Paper-                          “What to do When Blanchard Springs Campground is Full”

            Paper-                          “Recreation Facilities:  Sylamore Ranger District- Ozark National Forest

            Paper-                          “Ozark National Forest-Blanchard Springs Caverns”

            Paper-                          “What are the Differences Between the Two Tours in Blanchard Springs Caverns”

            Paper-                          “Ozark National Forest-Blanchard Springs Recreation Area”


Folder 15:

            List-                             Contract Numbers for Caves and Caverns to be Inspected in Sharp, Independence, Cleburne, Izard, Baxter, and Stone Counties


Special Facilities Inspection Reports


            Name of Cave                Facility Number    County       Nearest Town


            Bat Cave                                    01035     Baxter        Norfork

            Carson Creek Cave                    01047     Baxter        Mtn. Home/Monkey Run

            Cave                                          01033     Baxter       

            Cave                                          01034     Baxter       

            Cave                                          01043     Baxter

            Cave                                          01044     Baxter       

            Coral Cabin Cave                       01046     Baxter        Cotter

            Cave                                          01048     Baxter       

            Dutton Cave #2                          01045     Baxter       

            Dutton Cave                               01039     Baxter

            Sandstone Rock House Cave      01041     Baxter        Norfork

            Rand Cave                                  01038     Baxter        Norfork

            Tossel Springs Cave                    01042     Baxter       

            Walker Road Cave                      01036     Baxter        Mountain Home


            Bear Creek Cave                        01207     Boone        Harrison

            Coeta Falls Cave                         01001     Boone       

            Brewer Cave                               01004     Boone        Everton

            Hope Paradise(Hangover Cave)  01007     Boone

            Gathers Cove                              01006     Boone       

            Madison Mine                             01005     Boone       

            Keener                                        01206     Boone        Bergman

            Mystic Cave                                01002     Boone       

            Moody Cave                               01003     Boone        Spring Valley

            Eddings Cave                              01093     Cleburne

            Group of Caves                           01086     Cleburne               

            Hall Cave                                    01095     Cleburne   

            Parrish Cave                                01097     Cleburne   

            Rankin (Dripping Springs)            01096     Cleburne

            Possum Walk                              01094     Cleburne   

            Rock House Cave                       01179     Conway

            Rock House Caves                      01087     Cleburne   


            Cave                                           01049     Fulton        

            Cave                                           01051     Fulton

            Cave                                           01057     Fulton

            Cave                                           01053     Fulton        

            Cave                                           01068     Fulton

            Mammoth Spring Cave                01063     Fulton

            Richardson Cave                         01238     Fulton

            Gifford Cave                               01124     Independence

            Bluff Dwellers Cave                     01164     Izard                      Calico Rock

            Berghren Cave                            01163     Izard                      Calico Rock

            Ferguson Cave                            01208     Izard                      Mount Pleasant

            Melbourne Cave                          01162     Izard                      Melbourne


            Bluff Cave                                   01184     Johnson                 

            Primm Cave                                01166     Izard                      Mount Pleasant

            Bell Cave                                    01204     Independence         Batesville

            Cave Creek Cave                        01122     Independence         Batesville

            Brewer Cave                               01121     Independence         Batesville

            Bone Cave                                  01125     Independence         Batesville

            Cushman Cave                            01116     Independence         Cushman

            Frazier Cave                                01123     Independence         Cave City

            Sandtown Cave                           01205     Independence         Sandtown

            Shelter Cave                                01117     Independence         Cushman

            Stave Mill Cave                           01126     Independence         Batesville

            Will Chinn Cave                          01203     Independence         Batesville

            Crystal Cave                               01110     Independence        

            Cave                                           01120     Independence

            Allen Spring Cave                        01119     Independence

            Blowing Cave                              01109     Independence

            Cave                                           01112     Independence

            Cave                                           01105     Independence        


            Cave                                           01182     Johnson

            Cave                                           01183     Johnson     

            Bat Cave                                     01032     Marion                   Flippin

            Wolf Glen Cave                           01185     Johnson                 

            Cave                                           01008     Marion

            Bull Shoals Caverns                     01016     Marion                   Bull Shoals

            Cave                                           01011     Marion                   Lakeway

            Cave                                           01010     Marion                   Lakeway

            Cave                                           01217     Marion                   Ralph

            Cave                                           01022     Marion                   Lakeway

            Haunter Cave                              01218     Marion                   Ralph

            Maloy Cave                                01009     Marion                   Lakeway

            Shawnee Cave                            01019     Marion                  

            Marble Cave                               01018     Marion                  

            Rock House Cave                       01014     Marion

            Bat Cave                                     01191     Newton                  Ponca

            Barnes Cave                                01237     Newton                  Piercetown

            Bat House Cave                          01229     Newton                 

            Bluff Cave                                   01189     Pope                     

            Big Bear Cave                             01233     Newton                  Jasper

            Cave                                           01202     Newton     

            Cave                                           01228     Newton

            Cave                                           01230     Newton

            Cave                                           01232     Newton                  Mount Judea

            Fitton Beauty Cave                      01193     Newton                  Marble Falls

            Dallas Cave                                 01236     Newton     

            John Eddings Cave                      01231     Newton                  Piecetown

            Little Bear Cave                          01235     Newton

            Neal Cave                                   01199     Newton                 

            Wolf Cave                                   01201     Newton     

            Spanish Piano Cave                     01195     Newton                  Murray

            Sheffield Cave                             01198     Newton


            Upside Down Cave                     01234     Newton                 


            Boss Cave                                   01082     Sharp                     Cave City

            Cave                                           01187     Pope

            Blag Cave                                   01069     Sharp

            White Rock Cave                        01223     Searcy                    Snowball

            Watts Cave                                 01143     Searcy       

            Perry Cave                                  01222     Searcy                    Snowball

            Patterson Cave                            01227     Searcy       

            Ozark Mystery Cave                   01129     Searcy                    Marshall

            Nathan Slay Cave                        01139     Searcy                    Snowball

            McKinney Cave                          01132     Searcy

            Little Nate Slay Cave                   01220     Searcy                    Snowball

            Davis Creek Cave                       01219     Searcy                    Marshall

            Cave                                           01225     Searcy                    Silver Hill

            Cave                                           01221     Searcy                    Snowball

            Cave                                           01224     Searcy                    Silver Hill

            Blowing Cave                              01128     Searcy                    Zack

            Campbell Cave                            01136     Searcy       

            Allen Watts Spring Cave              01226     Searcy       

            Big Hurricane Cave                     01127     Searcy                    Pindall

            Wolf Cave                                   01070     Sharp

            Porter Cave                                 01078     Sharp

            Ott Cave                                     01073     Sharp

            King Haller Cave                         01076     Sharp

            Cave                                           01084     Sharp

            Cave City Cave                           01086     Sharp                     Cave City

            Cave                                           01081     Sharp

            Cave                                           01080     Sharp

            Cave                                           01071     Sharp

            Caves (2)                                    01072     Sharp

            Back of Beyond Cave                 01135     Searcy

            Buzzard Cave                              01075     Sharp

            Cave                                           01077     Sharp

            Alexander Cave                           01154     Stone                     Fifty-Six, Arkansas

            Arnold Cave                                01213     Stone                     Guion

            Bald Scabby Cave                       01161     Stone

            Cave                                           01215     Stone                     Mountain View

            Blanchard Cave                           01147     Stone                     Fifty-Six

            Ennis Cave                                  01209     Stone                     St. James

            Cellar Cave                                 01146     Stone        

            Half Mile Cave                            01212     Stone                     Fifty-Six

            Gustafson Cave                           01145     Stone                     Calico Rock

            Hell Creek Canyon Cave             01153     Stone                     Mountain View

            Jack Creek Cave                         01160     Stone        

            Joe Bright Cave                           01214     Stone                     Mountain View

            Jack Mitchell Cave                      01144     Stone                     Newnata

            Old Salt Peter Cave                     01211     Stone                     Calico Rock

            Mud Springs Canyon Cave          01155     Stone                     Mountain View

            Rowland Cave                             01149     Stone                     Fifty-Six

            Salt Peter Cave                           01150     Stone                     Fifty-Six

            Sky Blanchard Cave                    01210     Stone                     Fifty-Six

            World Wonder Cave                   01158     Stone


            Allen Cave                                  01100     Van Buren 

            Rock Cave                                  01101     Van Buren


            Indian Rock Cave                        01104     Van Buren

            Brown’s Cave                             01103     Van Buren


Folder 16:


            Negatives-                    Unidentified

            Newspaper Article-      “The Men Who Explored Blanchard Springs Caverns”; Newport Daily Independent; October 2, 1977

            Magazine-                    Map and Pictures; The Independence County Chronicle; April 1965



            Slides-                          Carousel #1; Better Slides, in chronological Order

            Slides-                          Carousel #2; Additional Cave Slides

            Slides-                          Boxes 1,2,3; these slides are either duplicates or in bad condition

            Video-                         ”Blanchard Springs Caverns Explorations”; 1959-1965; Produced by Hail Bryant & Hugh Shell, June 1992

            Video-                         ”Blanchard Springs Caverns Explorations”; 1959-1965; Produced by Hail Bryant & Hugh Shell

            Video-                         Arkansas Indians”, 8000 B.C. to 1650 A.D.; 1991





            Map-                           Unidentified map indicating fossil locations

            Map-                           1959 highway map – Izard County, Ark.

            Map-                           1962 highway map – Sharp County, Ark.

            Map-                           1968 highway map – Stone County, Ark.

            Map-                           1956 highway map – Baxter County, Ark.

            Map-                           1968 highway map – Sharp County, Ark.

            Map-                           Penter’s Bluff sheet – Limestone district

            Map-                           Map of Melbourne Cave

            Map-                           Map of Prim Cave

            Map-                           Map of Fifty-Six Cave

            Map-                           Map of Half-Mile Cave (Blanchard Springs Caverns)

            Map-                           U.S. Forest Service map of Blanchard Springs Caverns


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