Goodwin Pit Clean Up

Trash Tracker – 2012 Totals (Feb. 11-December 8)

Volunteers removed 43,760 lbs. of trash, over 9 tons of tires and more than 2500 lbs. of metal

The Missouri Caves and Karst Conservancy began a new and very important endeavor for 2012 – the clean-up, restoration and permanent protection of Goodwin Pit Sinkhole and Cave, an important karst resource located in Laclede County, Missouri.

Goodwin Pit has been used as an illegal dump site since the late 1950s. The tires and debris in the sinkhole and the cave are polluting ground water, the cave environment, Ha Ha Tonka Spring, one of the 15 largest springs in Missouri, and the Lake of the Ozarks.

The Goodwin Pit photo gallery above will give you an idea of the serious pollution problem our organization has resolved to tackle with the help of many Missouri Grottos, Master Naturalist Chapters, caving and civic organizations, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and other interested parties. Click on a thumbnail sketch in the gallery to view enlarged photos.

Phase 1 & Phase 2 – A Great Success

Saturday, February 11, a very productive day at Goodwin Pit marked the start of Phase one of a massive clean up campaign. The hard work of MCKC members and volunteers, representing Missouri grottos, Master Naturalist Chapters, Boy Scout troops and Camdenton High School students made a remarkable improvement at the site. While some gathered and hauled tires, others bagged trash and moved it to a dumpster at the top of the sink. Crews built bonfires to burn fallen trees in the sink and others cleared a channel to allow normal flow of water through the sink.

Sunday, February 12 – Many of those who worked on Saturday returned to join volunteers signed up to work on Sunday. By the end of the day, the progress was so incredible, headway was made into Phase 2. See photos above to see the difference in the sinkhole after two days of hard labor.

A big thank-you goes to Waste Management, Inc. They donated the 30-cubic yard roll off dumpster for the clean up and the transfer station fee for the trash disposal. Volunteers filled the dumpster with 8,180 pounds of trash. More than 600 tires were lined up and tied together to prevent them from washing to the back of the sink. DNR will pick up the tires to use as fuel for their power plant.

Media Coverage

Dianne Steingrubey, a reporter with the Lake Sun Today covered the weekend activity. The New Tribune, Jefferson City picked up the story and ran it on the front page of the February 18, 2012 issue.

March – The Clean Up Continues

On Saturday, March 3, 2012, an industrious crew of volunteers continued work at Goodwin Pit and the cave entrance. See photos in the gallery above. Jon Beard, MCKC Vice President reported, “The cave passage beyond our digging is absolutely filled with trash, soil and gravel that has washed into the cave creating a massive blockage. Before we can go any further, we must get through that blockage, otherwise, each time it rains, more debris is washed into the cave and becomes part of the blockage. Once we eliminate the blockage, the cave should be able to accept and carry water and soil washed into it.”

Jon explained, “From a geohydrologic point of view, when ALL of the trash, tires and associated accumulated gravel and silt are removed from where they have been piling up all these years, the sink and the cave should be able to handle any influx of gravel and silt that washes in from rains —it is what the cave had always been able to do prior to the use of the sink as a landfill.

The vast expanse of this sink (100 meters long, 40 meters wide, 10 meters deep (that’s at least 40,000 cubic meters!) was once filled with native rock and soil before section by section, piece by piece, it slumped, descended and was washed into the cave and out Ha Ha Tonka Spring. If the cave could handle all of that for thousands of years, it should, once it is cleared of the “man-induced” fill blockage, be able to handle anything nature will wash into it.”

April 28, 2012 and June 25, 2012

Volunteers gathered on April 28 and again on June 25 to continue the cleanup. Thousands of pounds of trash were removed, along with more tires and 2500 pounds of metal, which will be recycled. A mini-excavator was used to begin the task of moving built up sediment and buried trash that has been blocking the cave entrance and the natural flow of water through the cave.

September 8 and 9, 2012

With the largest turn out of volunteers to date, (88 on Saturday, 42 on Sunday) this weekend was one of the most productive. Perfect weather and an awesome group of soldiers from Ft. Leonard Wood added a surge of energy and team spirit that kept everyone inspired, not to mention entertained. See the Goodwin Gallery above for photos from the weekend.

Saturday and Sunday, November 3rd and 4th, 2012

Volunteers with the help of a skid steer and a mini-excavator, removed 15,340 lbs. of trash over the November 3-4 weekend. Work progressed on opening crawl ways within the cave. Jeff Thompson, a reporter for The Reporter, a weekly newspaper serving Camden, Miller and Morgan Counties, visited over the weekend and tells his story.  

November 23, 2012 KY3 TV Story Captures Interest

On Friday, November 23, Linda Russell, KY3 TV, a Springfield station traveled to Goodwin Sink with a camera crew to prepare a story that aired the same evening.

The story brought people to the Goodwin on Saturday to see what was going on and to thank us for the work we are doing. One area resident who stopped by after seeing the story remembers playing in the sinkhole when he was a kid and that the sinkhole was used as a dump back then. He had some old photos. One photo from 1979 showed the entrance to the cave which was already blocked at that time.

A group of soldiers from Fort Leonard Wood came on Saturday to assist with opening a passage within the Goodwin Pit Cave a bit more so that it will hopefully carry more water.

December 1 and 8, 2012

Again, soldiers from Fort Leonard Wood, Lake of the Ozarks Grotto and MCKC members and others worked at Goodwin Pit Cave. A tremendous amount of work has been accomplished. Humans can now stand in the drain passage.

Nathan Bechtold, a reporter with also visited Goodwin Pit last week to interview Klaus Leidenfrost, MCKC President and Goodwin Project Leader. Read Nathan’s story with photo gallery.

Goodwin Pit Sinkhole Cleanup & Cave Restoration Support

Any financial help to continue with the project in 2013 would be greatly appreciated. If you, your grotto or other organization would like to make a tax deductible donation to help with the Goodwin project, you can donate via PayPal.



Alternatively, you can make a check payable to Missouri Caves and Karst Conservancy and mail to:

Bill Kacerovskis, MCKC Treasurer
1507 Coulter Forest
Kirkwood, MO 63122-5566

Thank you for supporting this monumental sinkhole cleanup and cave restoration project.

If you have questions or need additional information about the Goodwin Pit Sinkhole and Cave restoration project, you may email the project manager at

If you have questions about our organization, would like a permit to visit an MCKC managed cave or need help managing a cave on your property, we invite you to contact us.