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Cherokee Caverns

Things To Do
8524 Oak Ridge Hwy., Knoxville, TN 37931 8524 Oak Ridge Hwy., Knoxville Directions

If you're looking for a way to switch up your tired routine, Knoxville, Tennessee's Cherokee Caverns is the place for you. As you can see, this place is the place to be this weekend.



From Our Editors

The Cherokee Caverns first started forming 300 million years ago. Today, their stalagmite- and stalactite-filled underground chambers are maintained by volunteers who open them to the public several times a year for special events, including Sunday night concerts, a Halloween trick-or-treating event, and Christmas in the Cave. (The holiday celebration makes the most of the cave's comfortable, permanent internal temperature: 58 degrees.)

Below, some landmark moments in the caves' transformation from loose shells, sand, and clay into a modern-day social hub.

  • Pre-1854: Native Americans discover the cave, as indicated by ancient torch-marks on the cave walls.
  • 1854: A local farmer, Robert Crudington, rediscovers the caves. He noticed an eerie fog rising from the rocks covering the cave mouth.
  • 1929: Crudington's daughter, Margaret Gentry, hosts the first public tour of the caverns.
  • Between 1947 and 1960: Homer Harris, known as the world's tallest singing cowboy, holds a Western music show in the caves with his trick horse, Stardust.
  • 1960s: A chef starts a restaurant in the cave mouth. Showing great self-restraint, he does not call it "Mouth Food."
  • 1980: The restaurant burns down, seriously damaging the cave and ushering in an era of neglect and vandalism.
  • 1990s: Volunteers take over the caverns, turning them into the event space and geological education site they are today.

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Cherokee Caverns

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