Cathedral Caverns - Woodville, AL
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Dulcimoore
N 34° 34.446 W 086° 13.259
16S E 571453 N 3826089
Quick Description: Cathedral Caverns, designated a National Natural Landmark in 1972, is located within Alabama's newest state park. At a constant 60 degrees F year round, it is a great place to spend a summer day!
Location: Alabama, United States
Date Posted: 6/22/2011 1:25:23 PM
Waymark Code: WMBV87
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
Views: 9

Long Description:
HISTORY OF AREA -

The 461 acres of land surrounding the cave is known as Cathedral Caverns State Park. The park is intended to protect the cave and allow people to explore above and below a mountain landscape. Visitors will be introduced to a “karstlands” type of mountain landscape, complete with odd limestone rock formations called “honeycombing,”
sinkholes, caves and surface vegetation that is characteristic of shallow soils on top of limestone formations.

Embedded in the ceiling of one of the huge chambers is a shark tooth, showing this area was under water in the distant past. Archaeological excavations at the mouth of Cathedral Caverns have indicated occupation by Native Americans 2,000 years ago, and perhaps as early as 8000 BC. The Kennamer family settled in the area in 1803, and there are stories of Civil War deserters hiding in the caves.

Amateur spelunker Jay Gurley discovered the cave system in 1952, bought it, and after several years of back-breaking labor opened it to the public. He ran it as a roadside attraction from 1959 to 1974. It gained National Natural Landmark status in 1972, and was purchased by the state of Alabama in 1987. In May 2000, it was finally reopened to the public.


THE PARK -

Cathedral Caverns became a state park in 1987. It includes 461 acres of land between Woodville and Grant, Alabama. The ticket office, restrooms, gift shop and snacks are available at the Welcome Center. The center is a beautiful open air stone lodge with large porches and a breezeway, a courtyard and fountain. Rocking chairs and benches are available as you wait for the beginning of the next cave tour. Additional amenities are two large picnic pavilions. Primitive camping is available.

The park's newest attraction is "The Cathedral Caverns Mining Company," a hands-on activity for children. For 6$, a bag of dirt is sifted and rinsed, and mineral samples can be compared to an identification chart.

THE CAVERNS -

Cathedral Caverns is a karsk cave system and consists of several chambers. It is a constant 60 degrees F year round, which makes it a great summer destination. The Alabama Department of Transportation improved and paved the lighted pathway that is 10 feet above the original path. The walk is a little over a mile for the round trip and takes about an hour. Our tour group consisted of all ages, from toddlers to oldsters, and while it was a little challenging for some, we all made it back safely. I recommend athletic shoes or hiking boots, those with flip flops struggled a little.

The Mystery River runs through the caves, and spectacular stalagmite forests, a huge column named 'Goliath', and an enormous flow stone wall, along with many other unusual formations. The caverns claim several World Records, including:

* the widest entrance of any commercial cave in the world - 25 feet (7.6 m) tall and 128 feet (39 m) wide.
* the largest column in the world. Goliath measures 45 feet (14 m) tall and 243 feet (74 m) in circumference.
* the largest flow stone wall which is 32 feet (9.8 m) tall and 135 feet (41 m) long.
* the most improbable formation in the world. A 3-inch-diameter (76 mm) stalagmite rises at a 45-degree angle from a rock formation to the cave ceiling 25 feet (7.6 m) above.
* a Big Room, which is 792 feet (241 m) long and 200 feet (61 m) wide.

The cave extends another 2,700 feet (820 m) past the current limit of the show caves. There is a crystal room and another stalagmite forest that is not open to the public.

Another interesting fact: In 1995, Cathedral Caverns provided the cave settings for the Disney Studios film Tom and Huck starring Jonathan Taylor Thomas as Tom Sawyer and Brad Renfro as Huckleberry Finn.

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ADMISSION FEE:

Adults: $12.00
Children 6 - 11 years of age: $6.00
Children under 5 years of age: FREE with parent or guardian
Schools and Pre-School Groups: Students - $6.00, Chaperones - $10.00
Teachers: FREE with school group
Groups of 25 or more: $10 per person with reservation
The Park is open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

CAVE TOUR TIMES:

September 1- March 14 - Daily:
Every two hours beginning at 10:00 A.M. with the last tour starting at 4:00 P.M.

March 15 - August 31 - Daily:
Hourly beginning at 10:15 A.M. with last tour starting at 4 P.M.

Closed: New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day
Access to the cave is available only with a tour guide.
Predominate Feature: Cave System

Parking/Access Location: N 34° 34.485 W 086° 13.200

Ownership: State

Terrain Rating:

Admission Charged: yes

Landmark's Website: [Web Link]

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:
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strummin_along visited Cathedral Caverns - Woodville, AL 6/9/2012 strummin_along visited it
xptwo visited Cathedral Caverns - Woodville, AL 4/17/2012 xptwo visited it
hummerstation visited Cathedral Caverns - Woodville, AL 10/24/2004 hummerstation visited it

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