Old Man’s Cave

Old Man's Cave 01-24-2013

I don’t care how much you like your job, there are days when you get hit with the “I gotta get outta town blues.” The great thing about being a newspaper photographer was that you had a ready-made excuse to cruise. When I got that “gotta get out of Athens” feeling, I’d either call Ruthie, our Logan bureau reporter, and say “Need anything shot in Hocking County?” or I’d tell Messenger Photographers Chuck or Bob, “I’m headed up to Logan today.” Nobody much cared where you went so long as you brought back a picture for the next day’s paper.

Hocking County was the home of Old Man’s Cave, one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever been. Even if other people were around, the gorge twisted and turned so much that it gave you the feeling of being alone. It was a place of beauty in any season, but it became magical when the dripping water and waterfalls turned to ice in the winter.

Lila had a winner

Lila Steinhoff photos of Old Man's Cave 04-20-1970There was some kind of photojournalism conference in Ohio where spouses could enter a photo contest. Wife Lila selected this one shot at Old Man’s Cave on April 20, 1970. I’ve always liked the image of a child running across the bridge at the bottom of the gorge. Unfortunately, we arrived too late to get the photo entered. You don’t need some judge to give it a ribbon, it’s a winner in my book. I’d be happy to have MY name under it.

A younger Ken at Devil’s Bathtub

Lila Steinhoff photos of Old Man's Cave 04-20-1970She also caught a much younger me photographing the Devil’s Bathtub.

The Bathtub looks the same

Old Man's Cave 01-24-2013The Devil’s Bathtub looks much the same in 2013. I, alas, do not.

Fun to share with friends

Old Man's Cave 01-24-2013No telling how many people I hauled up to the area during my stay in Athens. Even though it took us quite a few miles off our path from Ohio to Cape, I couldn’t resist giving Friend Jan a look at the place.


Old Man's Cave 01-24-2013I had another case of those get outta town blues in the early 1970s in Florida. I took off with no destination in mind. Lila either couldn’t come with me or she saw the crazy look in my eyes and decided this might be a trip better taken solo. I picked roads at random until I finally ended up on Cedar Key, a tiny spit of land sticking out into the Gulf of Mexico more than half-way up the state.

Walking down the main (probably only) drag, I thought I spotted a familiar face. It turned out to be former Central High School debate partner John Mueller. He had the same desire to escape from his job reporting for the Associated Press in Tallahassee as I had to get away from The Palm Beach Post for a weekend.

There is no telling where Cape Girardeans will turn up.

Grandma Gatewood

Grandma Gatewood walking through the Hocking Hills in OhioThis is also the place I shot Grandma Gatewood when part of the trail was dedicated to her.

Photo gallery of Old Man’s Cave

Black and white photos were taken in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The color shots were from our recent visit January 24, 2013. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery.

10 Replies to “Old Man’s Cave”

  1. Ken
    Is it just me or are the photographs we shot in black and white on film have a different quality than the images shot now with digital? Each has their advantages, especially shooting digital for weddings. But film is in resurgence, and there are several guys in the Cape area keeping the film tradition alive, particularly for beautiful landscapes.
    Tom Neumeyer

    1. I was having that discussion with another photographer the other day. As a photographer who was more comfortable in black and white because I was lousy at artificial light, I tended to “see” things in tones rather than colors, and that’s reflected in my earlier works.

      Now that I’ve branched out into digital photography where I can shoot color under conditions where it would have been difficult to shoot even B&W years ago, I’m looking at the world differently.

      There is still a monochromatic look to a lot of my color, though. I often have a relatively dark photo with an accent of color where the “accent” would have been a highlight in the other medium.

  2. Ken,
    Love those pictures.
    Have you taken pictures at Johnson Shut-in State Park in Reynolds County, MO (near Lesterville, where we once lived)?

  3. Looking at your photos of the Old Man’s Cave area reminded me of Watkin’s Glen in upper New York state. Elise and I were there in 1981 with fellow Cape Girardeau native, Mark Phillips (who lived in Rochester at the time). The Glen is a winding chasm, cut through thin layers of rock strata, that is very steep and narrow with a walking trail streamside and many waterfalls. The way the light enters the Glen and creates shadow and highlight is pretty magical. I shot 35mm motion picture color-positive film and got a couple of what I considered spectacular shots.

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