A Little Background
There’s just something exciting about weaving your way through underground passageways, in the dark, confined by thousands of pounds of rock on all sides. It’s a rare experience and one I’m not likely to pass up.
Most cave locations are kept secret in the mind vaults of previous explorers, and to top it off, they’re almost all on private property. This makes for an interesting challenge, almost a puzzle if you will, piecing together internet accounts, word of mouth, and topography clues to pinpoint exactly where a cave entrance might be. Then comes my favorite part, the scouting, sometimes done at night to increase the adrenaline and avoid the prying eyes of crotchety landowners. So grab a headlamp and strap on your boots, cause we’re going cave huntin’ baby!
*Unfortunately, I won’t be discussing the specific locations of any of these caves. That clearly ruins all the adventure and also subjects the caves to potential vandals, which I refuse to have on my conscience. With that in mind, here are a few of my favorites.
This cave has been around a while. Well I suppose that’s mostly true for all of them, but this one has been widely known and frequently visited for a long time. It’s a popular spot for teens looking for a place to secretly drink, smoke, or maybe perform satanic rituals. Located near Temple Hill in Barren County, Saltpeter cave is a true classic. Though I in no way condone the vandalism that occurs there, it does produce and certain creepy vibe, especially when visiting at night, something my friends and I have been known to do.
Saltpeter cave generally follows a horseshoe shape, with both entrances opening on the bank of a creek. Inside has several offshoot passageways, some containing gypsum and saltpeter (previously mined and used for gunpowder). You’ll also find a plethora of spray paint with names, dates, Harambe memes, pentagrams, and several guiding arrows (hint: some arrows lie). At one time, there were guided tours through this cave, but those have long since been discontinued. If you find yourself lost in these passageways, just remember: always take the left wall and you should theoretically make it back out.
This cave is one of my favorites. Actually that sounds indicting. What I mean to say is, this cave was quite the challenge to find, which made the discovery that much more exciting. The general location was based on internet accounts. From there we learned through word of mouth of a more specific location, but the final discovery was just sheer luck. A friend and I had a hunch based on a few hints, and one day we were just walking the stream and stumbled on the entrance.
Internet accounts put the Ku Klux Klan carving to be at least 60 years old, and if we can infer anything from the dates on the wall, it may be much older. A terrible part of the south’s history, but a very cool discovery.
We were forced to come up with a few of the cave names by ourselves, and admittedly this wasn’t one of our more creative ones. But if you’re looking for an interesting crawl through some town history and a little bit of extra trespassing on the side, this is the cave for you. This cave runs under parts of downtown Glasgow and is rumored to have both been connected to the old jail and been a part of the underground railroad, connecting to some of the oldest houses in the area. The exit does happen to come out in a drainage culvert of a fenced in property, so be prepared for a sneaky Shawshank-esque escape to freedom.
Peanut Butter Cave
Aptly named for its oddly enticing stench of peanuts, Peanut Butter Cave in Park City is home to several beautiful formations such as flowstone, stalactites/stalagmites, and “cave bacon.” It’s also home to quite a few cave crickets, so mind your head. I know very little about the history of this cave, only that it has the remnants of powered lights and has somehow become an acceptable place to dump old appliances and trash. More’s the pity.
I’ll say this: caving is something that I enjoy greatly, but it can be very dangerous to the explorers and the environment. If you go in caves, do not touch the formations. Do not disturb the bats. Know your own limits, and be prepared. Tell someone when and where you’re going. Be safe.