Thomas C. Barr, Jr.

06-SEP-1931 - 29-APR-2011

Thomas C. Barr, Jr.. Public Domain.

Thomas Calhoun Barr Jr. was a zoologist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Kentucky. While he wrote numerous scientific papers on various topics, he wrote only one single book for which he is famous among cavers. The Caves of Tennessee was published in 1961 as Bulletin #64 of the Tennessee Division of Geology, and gives the descriptions of some 700 caves. It is out of print for a long time, but was reprinted in 2001. The book has two parts, the first is an introduction on the origin of caves and on the classification of animal life in Tennessee caves, the second is a collection of some 700 caves giving location and description.

Tom Barr's passion for caves began when his parents took him to Mammoth Cave at age 7. He joined the NSS at age 18 and dedicated much of his early career to exploring caves in the TAG area (Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia). He was president of the NSS between 1965 and 1967. He was also a founding member of the Nashville and Boston grottos of the National Speleological Society.

A well known picture of Tom Barr from early years shows him caving with a corncob pipe in his mouth and using a LightColeman Lantern. While the corncob pipe was probably just an accesoire for the picture, the coleman lamp was his favourite lamp and strongly influenced his caving style. He was often caving with Roy Davis, the operator of Cumberland Caverns. As a zoologist his main research topics were ecology, taxonomy, cave evolution and cave beetles. He described over one hundred species of cave beetles, most of them previously unknown. Even at the time of his death, he was collaborating on a paper for a newly discovered species of ground beetle.


17-SEP-1931 born.
1950 joins the NSS.
1954 member of the NSS C-3 expedition to Crystal Cave.
1961 publishes Caves of Tennessee.
1965-1967 president of the NSS.
1993 retired.
2008 receives Biodiversity Award by the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission.
29-APR-2011 died from a heart attack at the age of 79.