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Jul 30, 2019
Caverns are mysterious. They either call you to explore the dark spaces or repulse you with a sense of foreboding. I've always been in the exploration camp — no, I don't want to wriggle through small holes in the rock, but I love to tour caves.
And Cathedral Caverns State Park outside of Scottsboro, Ala., is one of the most-beautiful caves I've ever visited.
I had never heard of the huge cavern until I arrived in North Alabama to help cover a Bassmaster Elite Series event. One of my jobs with Bassmaster is to put together a photo tour of the areas we visit, so I headed straight for Cathedral Caverns when I found it online.
A quick visit with the Georgia State Parks manager in charge ended with permission to take my tripod along so I could document the wonders of the cavern for my Bassmaster photo tour. The only caveat was that I had to wait until the official tour was over to shoot my way back out of the cave.
Not a problem at all.
My wife (whom I affectionately call MTA (short for "my trusty assistant") and I were guided through Cathedral Caverns by Milton, a lifelong caver who knew every nook and cranny of the amazing cave.
Another family joined us, as we moved from room to room while Milton explained different aspects of the cavern.
Cathedral Caverns, originally known as Bat Cave, was declared a national landmark in 1972. Its mouth is 25 feet tall, and is the largest opening for a commercial cavern in the United States. It extends two miles into the mountain, and includes several rooms full of amazing formations.
The cavern was renamed when the wife of an owner in the 1950s declared that one stalagmite- and stalactite-filled room resembled a cathedral. One of the formations looks to be a bell, while another could be the popes of a church organ.
It has been called Cathedral Caverns since that declaration.
Another room contains a massive stone column dubbed "Goliath," one of the largest stalagmites in the world at 45 feet tall and 243 feet in circumference. A calm pool of water reflects Goliath, giving the appearance of a deep hole in the dimness of the cave. In fact, the pool is just inches deep.
Moving into another room reveals the so-called "frozen waterfall," which is a living rock wall over which water runs. This formation is kept alive by pumping water over the surface, which allows slow build-up.
Among the numerous stalagmites found the cavern is a one that seems impossible: It measures 27 feet tall and only 3 inches wide.
Prints are available of each of these beautiful images. Just click here for more information.
The cavern is amazingly friendly to photographers. While photography is allowed in most commercial caverns, the managers of Cathedral Caverns State Park actually offers photo tours to the cavern once a month to allow them to document the wonders of the cave system.
Photographers can wander the cavern and take photos without a guide for two hours every second Tuesday of each month.
I hope to return and use LED light panels to light up the wonders of this cave for some some unique photos. So stay tuned!
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