Photo by Sean Fisher
5 Things A Caver Can Tell You About The Caverns
By Kristine Ebrey
1. Sally! The Caverns Mascot
Sally (or Sal for short) greets visitors as soon as you pass through our gates. Sally is a Big Cave Salamander, which is a subspecies of the Tennessee cave salamander. These salamanders have made The Caverns their home for many, many years alongside blind fish and crayfish. Don't worry though, their home is deep in the cave where visitors don't roam so they live an undisturbed life.
2. The Caverns Formed Over 300 millions Years Ago
Between 570 million and 320 million years ago, most of the eastern United States was predominantly covered by a calm, shallow, tropical sea. As the sea critters died then they floated to the bottom of these ancient seas. Eons and eons went by and these deposits of calcium slowly became limestone. Add on a few more millions of years, and viola! We have the cave that you can visit to listen to your favorite band.
3. The Caverns is in a region called TAG
TAG is simply an acronym for Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia. This region has the highest concentration of caves in the US with over 15,000 qualifying caves. More than 10,000 of those caves are right here in Tennessee.
4. Partying underground is not a new idea!
During the Prohibition, some of the most hopping bars and nightclubs were found in caves. The remoteness and abundance of water in caves was very appealing to moonshiners and bootleggers. Al Capone was even rumored to travel through this area on his bootlegging missions. You can visit his old digs while also enjoying an incredible meal at High Point Restaurant in Monteagle.
5. Caves are fragile!
Although caves have existed and will continue to exist for millions of years, they are also one of the most fragile environments in the world. Organizations like the National Speleological Society (NSS) promotes conservation, protection, and education to the public and cavers. Please visit the NSS at www.caves.org to learn more about caves and how to be a responsible caver. When enjoying these beautiful and wild places, please remember the caver's motto: Take nothing but pictures, Leave nothing but footprints and kill nothing but time.
Kristine Ebrey is a staff member at The Caverns and the Secretary-Treasurer of the National Speleological Society, the largest organization in the world working every day to further the exploration, study, and protection of caves and their environments, and foster fellowship among cavers.