Cumberland Caverns, Tennessee; 2016
In October 2016; Becky, (my wife) and I flew to Tennessee for Fall Break. We stayed near Fall Creek State Park on the Cumberland Plateau.
The Fall Creek State Park is over 26,000-acres (110 km2). It is centered on the upper Cane Creek Gorge, an area known for its unique geological formations and scenic waterfalls. The park’s namesake is the 256-foot (78 m) Fall Creek Falls, the highest free-fall waterfall east of the Mississippi River, (pictured below).
Sandstone is the predominant rock of the Cumberland Plateau. Conglomerates of sediments formed these Pennsylvanian period rocks 250 to 300 million years ago. During that time there was erosion of the mountains that washed silt and sand down into an inland sea. An uplift of the area occurred, which pushed up the soft bottom layers of sediment after they had formed as rock. That uplift then formed the Cumberland Plateau.
Our next visit was the Cumberland Caverns. Three hundred feet below the surface of the ground these remarkable caverns were formed some 500 million years ago by the erosive action of the prehistoric Gulf of Mexico, which then extended this far north. A stream flows through the entrance gallery into a crystal-clear pool.
Water-based erosion is still the main factor in carving and changing the sandstone features over time. Softer rock is dissolved away by water with acidity in it. The harder the rock the more impervious or resistant the rock is to weathering by wind, water, freezing and thawing.
The caverns follow: the Graveyard, the Popcorn Bowl, and the largest of the tour, the truly cavernous Hall of the Mountain King—600 ft. long, 140 ft. high, and enhanced with curious formations called the Pagodas and the Chessmen.
There in the largest portion of the cave we found an auditorium where the locals come to show off their Bluegrass skills, (pictured below). It seemed to have perfect acoustics.