This Associated Press article was published in major newspapers across the USA and appeared in 4 countries.
By Craig Gustafson
|An avid cave explorer
since he was a boy, the 49-year-old Ackerman says he grew frustrated in
the mid-1980s when many of Minnesota's best-known caves began limited access
or refusing entry altogether. Many caves closed because owners feared litigation
if someone got hurt, others were turned over to state or federal authorities
who reduced opportunities for spelunkers.
That's why Ackerman says he went to great expense and battled neighbors and other exploreres to find his own caves.
"You're walking through a slice of time," he says as he surveys an excavated sinkhole that recently became his 19th cave. "To be the first human being to explore them is pretty much why we do it. And once we have discovered them, they're going to be here forever. They're going to be known, studied, photographed."
When he's not running his furniture restoration business in Burnsville, Ackerman and "Cave Finder" can be found scooping out sinkholes in search of darkened dirt or white-spotted stones - telltale sign of moisture that can lead to cave entrances.
Experts say the Cave Farm was likely created over hundreds of thousands and millions of years as water sifted through the soil, dissolving the 450-million-year-old limestone.