Years of research, geology mapping, and manned exploration have finally paid off for two of the largest cave systems in America when late last month a long-speculated narrow tunnel revealed a connection between Cumberland Caverns in Tennessee and Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.
Native American folklore told of a great passageway connecting the north with the south and centered around the 400 miles of tunnels that make up Mammoth Cave. Stories passed down through generations, were dismissed as legends but nonetheless stuck in the back of Geologist Ben Blackwell’s mind growing up. “My great, great grandfather was part of the Cherokee Nation and the stories he told my grandfather, later passed down to me, of taking the underground route to trade goods with other tribes in the Middle Tennessee area were extremely detailed and vivid. I never thought we would see the day when the stories would become factual truths.”
OKM cavity detectors, sonar, and seismic reflection studies conducted by Enviroconn, Inc. aided researchers in the discovery of the underground voids and was instrumental in assisting Dr. Blackwell and his team in this seemingly impossible feat. “The entire operation took 25 employees and volunteers over 14K man-hours and $2M in equipment before the location pinpoint could be made. After the passageway was established, an unmanned drone was sent in to assess the condition and determine if it was safe to be further explored by geologist and expert cavers from both areas,” stated Ray Donvis, President of Enviroconn. “Once we had safety clearance from our engineers, Travis Young, GM of Cumberland Caverns, and Dr. Blackwell were the first to make the 6-hour trek and cleared the way for the rest of the team to follow suit.”
“This is the most amazing discovery in caving history! We aren’t sure how this will impact either location or what trips will be offered in the future. It is going to take several months to years to assess the various leadoff passages, cave inhabitants, and the impact on the environment before we can determine what we really have here. There are significant formations and a healthy bat population, those two things we have established,” stated Travis Young after his first trip through the connecting tunnel linking the two massive cave systems.
As more details and photographs emerge, we will be sharing them with the public but for now, we hope you enjoy the rest of your April Fools Day!