A brief history of the TSS...
The Texas Speleological Survey was founded in 1961 by James R.
Reddell, William H. Russell, Ruben (Bud) M. Frank, and A. Richard Smith. TSS was
formed to support speleology (the study of caves) in Texas, to collect
information on Texas caves, and to publish that information for cave explorers
and interested scientists.
Over the years TSS published many reports,
some of which are available to the general public while others have restricted
circulation to protect vulnerable caves and landowners' privacy. TSS's
goals have expanded over the years to support cave exploration, science,
conservation, and management.
The TSS had its origins in the cave
files started in the 1950s by various Texas caving groups, which were members
of the National Speleological Society. In about 1950 Bob Hudson started
the UT Grotto files, which were kept on large index cards and paper. Hudson
was a dedicated documenter of caves. By the mid-1950s Ken Baker, Bill Helmer,
Dave Kyser, and others were contributing to the files. Don Widener of
the Dallas Speleological Society started the "Texas Cave Survey," publishing
eight county reports in 1957-58. He drew on NSS Bulletin Ten, The Caves
of Texas, published in 1948, and the files of the UT Grotto, Corpus Christi
Caving Club, St. Mary's University Grotto (San Antonio), Mills Tandy, A.
Richard Smith, and others. In the late 1950s James Reddell and Bill Russell
became active and began to systematically map and study caves.
After the TSS was founded in 1961,
Reddell and Russell published a 13-page checklist of 646 caves. To date
TSS has published 34 reports on various counties, areas, and subjects.
Today, TSS has about 4,000 caves and sinkholes recorded in its computer
database. Even though our knowledge of caves has expanded dramatically,
we know of too many caves that have been degraded or destroyed by human
In 1994 the National Speleological
Society Convention was held in Brackettville, Texas, and the guidebook
for that convention was produced by the TSS.
Caves and Karst of Texas edited by William R. Elliott and
George Veni is an important 342-page reference on the subject for sale
to the public or available through city and university libraries.
TSS has been affiliated with the Texas Natural Science Center
(formally the Texas Memorial Museum) at The University of Texas at Austin for many years through
cave biologists James R. Reddell (Assistant Invertebrate Curator) and William
R. Elliott (Research Fellow). Most of the files were kept in Reddell's
office. TSS became formally organized in late 1994 with the intent of becoming
a nonprofit corporation. A Board of Directors was formed and articles and
bylaws were adopted. In 1995 TSS was chartered as a nonprofit corporation
in Texas, and in the spring of 1996 all of the paperwork hurdles were cleared,
and the IRS and State Comptroller granted TSS a tax-exempt designation.
In 1995, the TSS files were moved from
James Reddell's office into our current location in
18A on the J.J. Pickle Research Campus in North Austin. The office
was managed by Editor William R. Elliott, who became the cave biologist
for the Missouri Department of Conservation in January, 1998. Jim Kennedy
of Bat Conservation International is the new TSS Editor. The office gives
TSS expanded storage capacity for our extensive cave description files,
literature files, topographic maps, cave map files, and photo collections.