Cave Life May 2017

Cave Life May 2017

Coming Up On June 6: National Day of Caves and Karst

The National Caves Association has declared June 6 as National Day of Caves and Karst to increase awareness of the roles, both play in our lives and the environment.

“There’s just so much to see, learn and discover under-ground,” says Patty Perlaky, president of the National Caves Association. “Our hope with the National Day of Caves and Karst on June 6 is to encourage people to tour at least one cave this summer.”

According to the NCA, here are five reasons to visit a cave near you

  1. See things you have never seen before. No two caves are alike. There are many caves with water features, such as underground rivers, pristine lakes, and raging waterfalls. Cumberland Caverns has the waterfalls, sparkling pools and so much more to experience and enjoy.
  2. Spend quality time with family. Some of the best memories are made during summer vacations and staycations.
  3. Cave tours are educational and teach you about the history of the cave and surrounding areas.
  4. Spending time in nature has many benefits. Multiple studies show that nature boosts our mental and physical well-being.
  5. Caves are fun. These aren’t your grandfather’s cave tours. Options for exploring and spending time in caverns are increasing each year. In addition to walking tours and spelunking, guests are now treated to concerts, boat rides, and even kayak rentals inside some caves.

In Middle Tennessee, we live in a karst area. There are five unusual surface features in a karst region, which includes: springs, sinkholes, sinking streams, cave entrances, and underground streams. Living on land with Karst features is like living on Swiss cheese.

There are about 17,000 known caves in the United States. They occur in every State except Rhode Island and Louisiana. About 125 caves have been opened to the public for study and enjoyment. Of these, 15 are in national parks or monuments, and 30 are in State parks. The remainder is privately owned and operated. Most of these caves are in the Appalachian Mountains, the Ozark Mountains, the Black Hills, and the limestone regions of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana.

Make plans to go underground this year and experience a magnificent world hidden just beneath your feet.

Special thanks to the NCA and USGS for contributions to this article. 

Summer adventure awaits!

Join us each Tuesday and Thursday, June 1st through August 31 at 12:45 p.m. CST, for our spelunktacular Rocky Topper Adventure Tour.

Twist, turn, climb and wind your way through passages deep within the cavern as you and your group enjoy the cool 56-degree climate, share lots of laughs, and make many happy memories.

The Rocky Topper adventure is about 3⁄4 of a mile, takes approximately 2.5-3 hours to complete and is of moderate intensity.

Cost: $40 per person

Ages: 6 and up

Difficulty Level: Moderate


Bluegrass Underground

  • June 3 – The Revelers
  • June 17 – Larry Stephenson Band
  • June 24 – Peter Rowan
  • July 15 – Jesse McReynolds Band
  • August 12 – Tennessee Mafia Jug Band
  • August 26 – Maura O’Connell

Contact Bluegrass Underground for the latest updates. 

Grand Lady of the Ballroom

Every cavern boasts unique qualities not found in any other cave, but Cumberland Caverns took it to another level when a stunning 8.5’x15’, 3⁄4 ton chandelier was raised to light the Volcano Room in 1982.

The grand lady of the ballroom was acquired from the Loew’s Metropolitan Theatre in Brooklyn, NY. She had been rescued by Roy Davis, who just so happened to be at the location to purchase a massive pipe organ during one of the theater’s final renovations in the early 1980’s. The story goes, workers had intended on cutting the cable and letting the beautiful antique hit the floor, but upon hearing of their plans, Mr. Davis offered to take the chandelier along with the organ, and the manager agreed to include it in their deal.

The chandelier hung at the historic theater for over 50 years and witnessed the evolution of film from the time it opened on September 15, 1918, until its closure in 1996. During that time, it accumulated a lot of smoke, dust, and popcorn grease. How do you clean a chandelier? Well, according to Roy Davis, you spray it off at the carwash. Roy also tells a funny story of chasing crystal beads all over the parking lot as well.

After the chandelier was in place inside the cave for a year, employees noticed beads accumulating on the floor underneath. Upon closer inspection, it was learned the wires holding them in place were rusting in two. The Grand Lady had to be removed and underwent a complete restringing of the metal wires to copper line. This process was done over a two-year period with friends gathering on weekends for dinner stringing parties. She now has a solid foundation that will last for years to come.

May Cave Life at Cumberland Caverns

And that is the tale of how a beautiful, priceless crystal chandelier from New York came to call a cave in Middle Tennessee home.

On a side note, the Loew’s Metropolitan Theater underwent a massive restoration from 2000-2002 and is now the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church.

Loew’s Metropolitan Theatre: Brooklyn, NY 1918-1996

May Cave Life at Cumberland Caverns

Cumberland Caverns: Volcano Room 1982-present

May Cave Life at Cumberland Caverns