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Backgrounder

Business Purpose

Cave Country Canoes is a full service canoe and kayak livery servicing
the Blue River, Indiana’s first designated scenic river. Cave Country
Canoes is dedicated to providing a safe and fun recreational experience
for our guests while helping to preserve and protect the environment of
Indiana’s highest quality stream. The Blue River drains Indiana’s
largest karst area and is almost entirely fed by cave springs issuing
from the limestone bluffs into the river. Because of limited industrial
and urban development in its watershed, the Blue has been spared the
ravages of pollution, urbanization and other environmental problems of
most Indiana rivers. With careful management, promotion and clean up
efforts, we are able to share the river with our guests, working
hand-in-hand with The Nature Conservancy, Blue River Commission, IDNR
and landowners along the river and insure the financial resources
necessary for preservation and quality recreational opportunities in the
future.

Business History

Cave Country Canoes was incorporated in the fall of 1983 to purchase the
assets of Murphy’s Canoe Rental in Milltown. Cave Country Canoes has the
same ownership as Marengo Cave National Landmark. The canoe rental in
Milltown was purchased because canoeing was very complimentary to the
products offered at the cave. In fact, joint packages including cave
tours, cave exploring trips and canoeing was already being promoted by
the cave prior to the purchase of Murphy’s. In 1984, Cave Country Canoes
began promoting the Blue River with more extensive advertising and the
business grew rapidly. Kayaks were introduced to the rental business on
the river for the first time. In 1985, Paul Harpe, the owner of Blue
River Marina, a competing livery down the street decided to retire and
sold his operation to Cave Country Canoes. From that point until now
they have been operated jointly as one facility.

Over the years, many improvements have been made to the operations. More
use of buses to transport customers, radio communications with drivers,
furnishing of detailed color river maps, safety videos with simple
canoeing instruction, the introduction of plastic canoes, river gauges,
rescue jet boat and higher quality equipment. The business ownership has
been proactive in establishing guidelines and using technology to
provide better information for safer canoe trips.

At the present time, Cave Country Canoes operates a fleet including 375
canoes, 100 kayaks, and 6 buses. We maintain a 4.5 acre campground for
use by organized groups and people taking a multi-day canoe trip on the
river. The livery operates daily from May 1st through Labor Day and
weekends in April, September, and October on all days where river levels
and weather conditions allow. Cave Country Canoes offers half-day,
full-day trips, and two-day trips. Early in the season, seasoned
paddlers can even take a 58-mile trip taking 3 or 4 days.

The Blue River is recognized as one of the midwest’s finest canoeing
streams. However, as with all small streams, levels fluctuate rapidly.
Generally canoeing action is faster paced and a little more exciting in
the spring and early summer. Later in the season, the river is often
slower. This is a good time to introduce youngsters to the sport of
paddlling. Regardless of the season, the scenery is always beautiful
with the river confined to a half-canyon lined with hardwood forests and
towering limestone bluffs.

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