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…
And continued down the gravel laid path towards Johnson Avenue,
pausing to sign the log book and listen to a few stories from Marion O Smith.
We made our way down Johnson Avenue, named after the Johnson family that the historic entrance was named after,
and on reaching the entrance to the famed “BO Crawl” the group split.
Continuing along the group made it past the ship’s prow,
and on through Gotham City.
We then made our way down the FB passage that drops to the Root Cellar.
And finally to the root cellar itself…
where chert nodules can be found protruding from the walls and giving the appearance that the passages name is derived from.
As you continue through the root cellar, the walls are scalloped
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.
Crinoid Calyx Fossil
As well as gypsum flowers…
We climbed up to the BV survey on the way to the Cascade Hall…
Rimstone dams in the Cascade Hall
On the way out, we made it over Hanson’s Crossing, named in honor of the landowner’s father
And the formations that can be found there.
Before being treated to an amazing drive home.
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.