Cumberland Cavern (Higginbotham and Henshaw Caves)
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member BackBrakeBilly
N 35° 39.868 W 085° 41.074
16S E 619060 N 3947530
Quick Description: Cumberland Cavern (Higginbotham and Henshaw Caves) in Warren County Tennessee.
Location: Tennessee, United States
Date Posted: 10/17/2007 11:03:33 PM
Waymark Code: WM2DY1
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
Views: 106

Long Description:
One of the largest cave systems in the country. Two interconnecting caves known to be at least 16 miles in extent containing stalagmites and stalactites, helictites, flowstone, cave pearls, botryoidal coral, gypsum flowers, needles, and pure white gypsum snow, as well as a wide variety of cave life.

CUMBERLAND CAVERNS is one of the most extensive caves known in Tennessee. Portions of this system were originally known as Higgenbotham Cave and Henshaw Cave, but integration of these two caves plus considerable exploration of previously unvisited sections has in the past several years considerably enlarged the cave. More than 32 miles are now known. Aaron Higgenbotham, a surveyor, discovered Higgenbotham Cave in 1810. Venturing into the cave alone, he was trapped for three days on a high ledge when his torch went out. According to local legend, when a rescue party reached him, his hair had turned white. Aaron Higgenbotham did not penetrate very far underground. Shortly after the close of the Civil War someone explored for over a mile in Higgenbotham Cave and discovered a huge avenue, 60 ft. wide, 10 ft. high, and 2000 ft. long--the “Ten Acre Room.” The name “Shelah Waters” and the date “1869" are inscribed on the walls in candle smoke or scratched into the rock in many rather remote areas. This is the oldest name and date in the cave. Higgenbotham Cave is mentioned in old histories of Warren County as a local attraction, and Thomas L. Bailey in “Resources of Tennessee” first described it in print for 1918. Nitrates in the cave earth were mined in the Henshaw Cave, both during the war of 1812 and during the War Between the States. Leaching vats are preserved in the cave, and a small pick and hoe have been found by digging nearby in the floor. Calcium nitrate occurs in the cave soil; its mode of deposition is imperfectly understood. Cave soil was leached in wooden hoppers with wood ashes. Ion exchange between the niter and potash took place, and crude saltpeter for the manufacture of gunpowder could be crystallized from the liquor, which was boiled in huge kettles six feet in diameter. The term “keel dirt” was applied to the niter-containing earth, and the leached mud was called “lixivated earth.” Wooden paddles for stirring the material in the vats are occasionally found in saltpeter caves. Members of the National Speleological Society began exploration of Higgenbotham Cave in 1945. A new entrance was discovered in 1950, only 240 yards from the historic entrance. It is reached only by crawling through a tight hole chipped in a curtain of flowstone; it was called the "Onyx Curtain Entrance." In 1953 it was discovered that Henshaw Cave was separated from a chamber adjacent to the Ten Acre Room by an extensive breakdown. An artificially enlarged opening now connects the two caves, making it very easy to reach the more important centers of exploration near the Ten Acre Room. Shortly after the discovery of the "Henshaw Cave Entrance" a whole new series of galleries was penetrated and became to be called the Great Extension. Gypsum deposits of profusion and beauty were encountered in this area, which contains seven miles of passages. Development of portions of the system, including the Henshaw Cave and the Ten Acre Room, was undertaken in 1955, and the name changed at that time to "Cumberland Caverns." Since that time many thousands of visitors have been able to view the remarkable features of the Cavern.

Courtsey of Cumberland Caverns website.

Predominate Feature: Caverns

Ownership: Private - Access Permission Required

Terrain Rating:

Admission Charged: yes

Landmark's Website: [Web Link]

Parking/Access Location: Not Listed

Visit Instructions:

At least one photograph one photo taken by the waymarker must be posted.

Visitor should describe the experience of their visit.

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Recent Visits/Logs:
Date Logged Log User Rating  
BackBrakeBilly visited Cumberland Cavern (Higginbotham and Henshaw Caves) 10/18/2007 BackBrakeBilly visited it
ggmorton visited Cumberland Cavern (Higginbotham and Henshaw Caves) 9/6/2007 ggmorton visited it

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