Near the infamous site of the Battle of Snow Hill that saw the fight between Confederates and the 9th Cavalry (April 3, 1863) lies Indian Grave Point Cave.
Indian Grave Point is one of the largest caves in Tennessee. According to the TN Division of Archaeology, there has been no official archaeological work done in the area, though there are a couple of small sites recorded along the creek which clearly contribute to it’s name.
The product of phreatic solution, it is located in a cow pasture on the side of a steep hill (approximately 250 feet up a 50 degree angle).
Parking on the road, there is a stile that I’m told was donated by the Nashville Grotto to assist in climbing over the fence. Immediately on navigating over the stile you follow a trail that bends around a small pond and begin the ascent up the hill to the sinkhole that is the cave’s entrance.
Hilltop view, close to the cave’s entrance.
Once at the top you’ll find the sinkhole that includes the cave’s entrance. It is approximately 40 ft deep in total, but only a 10 foot rope assisted climb down with the rest being a walkable slope.
Once you enter the sinkhole entrance, the cave opening involves a short crawl.
Then opens to a room with a small dome which used to be an old saltpeter works containing nitrate hoppers.
Continuing on you will encounter the first breakdown room, the NAASEA Room…
where you will climb upwards until you reach a 45′ dome.
Once you view the dome and take a break at the top, there is a mud slide before reaching a wall that gives you the choice of going left or right.
To the left is a dead end passage that I’ve found to be wet on some occasions, and dry depending on surface conditions.
Taking a right from where you did the mudslide, leads you down another wet passage (knee deep)…
to a 20′ climb up what I’ve heard called both the “Frozen Niagara” and “Saint Mary Falls”, that currently has a rope ladder and water continuously flowing down from Lake Superior.
|Upper Cumberland Grotto caver Jeremiah Dearinger|
On completing the climb up Saint Mary Falls, you’ll find Lake Superior. Often full, I’ve seen it once during extremely dry conditions and have included the photo below.
Lake Superior under dry conditions.
Beyond Lake Superior, after completing a climb scale along the right wall, is another passage. You can turn left though I have never done so (maps don’t show anything of significance), or a right which brings you to The Lemon Drop (a 50′ pit). To the left of the lemon drop there is a crawl passage that brings you to another pit (80′) seen below.
I intend for the next post to include a walkthrough leading through the main route that starts at the NAASEA Room and continues on through The Boxcar Room and on towards Cascade Dome which is a 120′ dome ceiling.
Before wrapping this up however I wanted to include a fun area that can be found by entering the NAASEA Room and going left. There is a long and extremely muddy passage (shin deep). At the end is a beautiful dripstone formation that can be found.
Along with a short slide into a space where there are clay sculptures that were created by a great many visitors to the cave.
Please note that caving can be a dangerous activity for the inexperienced. If you have an interest in exploring caves, check out a local grotto from the National Speleological Society website so you can connect with experienced cavers in your area who will show you the ropes. Also, remember that caves can be on either private property or government land so please always ensure that you either have permission from the landowner or the proper permits obtained before visiting a cave. While there, remember to…
Take nothing but pictures.
Leave nothing but footprints.
Kill nothing but time.