• Russell Hill

Under the Mountain

Part 3 of 5 discovering the Upper Cumberland

Despite doing so well on the long hike the previous day, the kids clamored for a little less strenuous hike on our third day. Sneaky parents that we are, we concealed our hike this day by going underground.  Just outside the town of Mcminnville lies Cumberland Caverns, an amazing network of caves with a portion carved out for easy exploring.

First discovered in the 1820s and explored by torch light, two large caverns were later found to connect through a narrow tunnel once called “the meat grinder.”  Today you can stroll right through without being able to touch both walls simultaneously.

We all marvelled at the story about one of the original cave explorers who lost his torch and then sat down and waited in the cave to get rescued.  Finally, after three days of sitting in total darkness for three days, rescuers arrived.  Legend has it that the stress reaction to this trauma caused his jet black hair to start growing stark white after enduring his ordeal.

Each turn in the cave has its own surprises. There are underground pools with

albino crawdads, impressive thousand year old stalagmite and stalactites, and a giant open area that hosts its own annual concert series complete with a 100 year old chandelier. Impressive!

We had fun but we’re coming back. Next time we want to attend a concert, stay overnight underground, and explore  the wilder, deeper portions of this network of caves. 

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