Blue Spring Cave, From The Carr Entrance To The Root Cellar And Cascade Hall

Blue Spring Cave

Blue Spring Cave is one of the longest in the United States (often holding in top ten of the USA Longest Caves list). It is currently surveyed at approximately 41 miles of passages and one of the most exciting finds since the exploration of Cumberland Caverns back in the 1950’s.

It is privately owned and closed to the general public though the landowner is extremely welcoming and allows continued survey efforts and trips led by experienced cavers who are familiar with it’s passages.

Up until around 1989, it was known as “the Bob Hill Cave” and believed to be only 500 feet long with a single chamber that is low, wide, and decorated with dripstone. In that year, a group of explorers enlarged a blowing crack at the rear of the cave that dropped into a large passage which was named Johnson Avenue, in honor of the property owner on which the entrance is located (historic entrance).

A second, artificial entrance was created in 2001 named the Carr entrance in honor of the landowner of which is is located. The new entrance allows access directly into Johnson Avenue and bypasses the crawlway that connects the historical front 500 feet of cave. This entrance is securely gated.

Also of note, Blue Spring Cave is one of several in Tennessee where footprints were made from what is suspected to be a extinct jaguar species (Panthera onca augusta) from the Pleistocene (Ice Age) dating back 11,700 years or more. This species weighed an estimated 450 -500 pounds (double that of a modern jaguar). No remains have been found as with sites like Little Airplane Cave, Craighead Caverns (The Lost Sea), or Wolf River Cave) however. The footprints were first noticed by Bill Walter in 1990, though he did not realize their age at the time and additional discoveries were made by Hal Love in 2003 where their age and significance were recognized. The tracks are not located near an existing entrance so it is suspected that the animal entered through a nearby entrance that has long since collapsed.

On arriving, our journey began at the Carr entrance…

Blue Spring Cave

And continued down the gravel laid path towards Johnson Avenue,

Blue Spring Cave

pausing to sign the log book and listen to a few stories from Marion O Smith.

Blue Spring Cave

We made our way down Johnson Avenue, named after the Johnson family that the historic entrance was named after,

Blue Spring Cave

Blue Spring Cave

Blue Spring Cave

Blue Spring Cave

and on reaching the entrance to the famed “BO Crawl” the group split.

Blue Spring Cave

Anastomosis

Blue Spring Cave

Continuing along the group made it past the ship’s prow,

Blue Spring Cave

and on through Gotham City.

Blue Spring Cave

We then made our way down the FB passage that drops to the Root Cellar.

Blue Spring Cave

And finally to the root cellar itself…

Blue Spring Cave

Blue Spring Cave

where chert nodules can be found protruding from the walls and giving the appearance that the passages name is derived from.

Blue Spring Cave

Blue Spring Cave

As you continue through the root cellar, the walls are scalloped

Blue Spring Cave

Blue Spring Cave

Once the group was done observing the root cellar, we started to make our way back and to Cascade Hall. Along the way, Ordovician fossils could be seen on the walls and ceiling of the passages along the way.

Blue Spring Cave

Crinoid Calyx Fossil

Blue Spring Cave

Blue Spring Cave

As well as gypsum flowers

Blue Spring Cave

Blue Spring Cave

We climbed up to the BV survey on the way to the Cascade Hall…

Blue Spring Cave

Blue Spring Cave

Rimstone dams in the Cascade Hall

Blue Spring Cave

On the way out, we made it over Hanson’s Crossing, named in honor of the landowner’s father

Blue Spring Cave

And the formations that can be found there.

Blue Spring Cave

Before being treated to an amazing drive home.

Blue Spring 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.

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