Archives for 2013

Southeastern Cave Conservancy Acquires Significant New Preserve in Central Tennessee

December 19, 2013 The Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc. (SCCi) is excited to announce the acquisition of the Run To The Mill Cave Preserve! The preserve, which contains at least two known caves, consists of 75.3 acres of land located in central Tennessee, in the southern part of Cumberland County.

Run To The Mill Cave

Run To The Mill Cave contains over two miles of huge “borehole” passages. The underground stream that flows though these passages eventually becomes the Sequatchie River.

The acquisition is important on a number of fronts.  From a water conservation perspective, Run To The Mill Cave represents the underground headwaters of the Sequatchie River. An underground stream that flows through the cave receives the underground drainage from nearby Grassy Cove. This stream eventually reaches the surface at the Head of the Sequatchie spring in the Devilstep Hollow portion of Cumberland Trail State Park. Much of the land area at the surface of the preserve also drains into the cave through an intermittent stream that flows into the cave entrance following significant rainfall events. Run To The Mill Cave also contains significant biological resources. The cave was recently discovered to host what biologists believe to be among Tennessee’s twelve largest hibernating populations of endangered Indiana bats. Possible sightings of at least two other threatened or endangered animal species have been reported in the cave as well. Finally, Run To The Mill Cave is an extremely significant recreational caving resource.  The cave, which had been closed to recreational access for over 15 years prior to SCCi’s purchase of the property, contains nearly three miles of passages and extends 445 feet below the entrance.The upper levels of the cave contain several pits that require expert technical rope skills to negotiate, including the 167-foot deep Tilted Well. Below Tilted Well lie over two miles of large stream passages, and also several areas containing remarkable cave formations.

Run To The Mill Cave contains areas with remarkable cave formations.

Run To The Mill Cave contains areas with remarkable cave formations.

Due to the recent discovery of a wintering colony of  Indiana bats, SCCi will now manage Run To The Mill Cave in a manner consistent with its other caves that contain significant populations of hibernating bats.  Cave visitation is on a permit-only basis, limited to times when the hibernating Indiana bats are not present. Permits may be requested by contacting the preserve managers at  Individuals wishing to visit the cave will also be required to follow the SCCi Cave Visitation Policy, which includes following the Conservancy’s Clean Caving Procedures. Run To The Mill Cave is presumed to be positive for the presence of White Nose Syndrome (WNS), based on visual evidence of white fungus observed on tri-colored bats in January 2013. WNS is a disease of hibernating bats that has killed millions of the animals in the eastern U.S. and Canada since its discovery in 2006.  The condition is named for a distinctive white fungus that grows on the noses and bodies of affected bats.  While WNS is not directly harmful to humans, the loss of so many bats may have significant and far ranging impacts.  Bats play a major role in many ecosystems, and benefit agriculture by crop pollination and insect control. SCCi is currently raising $200,000 to pay the costs of acquisition and funding for long-term stewardship of the new preserve.  The Lyndhurst Foundation has already made a generous $50,000 grant in support of the acquisition, and SCCi members have also contributed or pledged another $50,000 to date. Donors wishing to support the Run To The Mill Cave Preserve acquisition may contribute securely online by going to the SCCi web site,, or by mailing a check to the address listed on the website. For additional information and more photos of the preserve, visit the SCCi Run To The Mill Cave Preserve web page, or contact SCCi Chair Ron Miller at

Save the date! February 15 is Frick’s Cave Open House

fricks cave open houseEvery year, the SCCi hosts an open house at Frick’s Cave in Georgia, a cave that is normally closed to protect endangered bats and salamanders that live in the cave. This year, the Fricks Cave Open House will take place on Saturday, February 15 from 9:00 to 4:30 p.m. eastern time. Because the federally protected endangered gray bats are not currently in the cave in the winter, the SCCi is able to allow members to visit the cave on this single day. Save the date on your calendars and keep an eye on our Frick’s Cave open house page. We’ll post any updates or announcements there.

Join us for the Tumbling Rock Christmas Party!

Tumbling Rock Christmas PartyLooking for a different way to celebrate the holiday season? Join us on December 7 for the first Christmas Party at Tumbling Rock Cave Preserve! Make plans now to join us. Buy tickets here.

The day will start at 10:00 with caving! The cave will be open all day if you want to stop by to explore.  If you’ve never been to the cave or are new to caving, you can meet up with several groups very familiar with the cave. The Christmas tree formation about halfway through the cave will be illuminated with beautiful Christmas lights. This will be the 5th year the Christmas tree has featured lights during the holiday season.

Cave all day, but be back out of the cave and cleaned up by 6:00 for a banquet. We’ll move inside a large, heated tent for a delicious dinner. The dinner will be catered by Carlisle’s, a restaurant in nearby Scottsboro.  After eating a great dinner with other cavers, we have some special presentations lined up. Chuck Lundquist and Bill Varnadoe, two of the original explorers of Tumbling Rock, will give a presentation about the early exploration of the cave. In addition, Pat Kambesis will discuss her mapping project in the cave.

It will be a fun day and evening full of caving, time with your friends, good food, and getting to know cavers you haven’t had a chance to meet. Plan to join us! If you want to camp, tent camping sites are available.

Space is limited. $40 per person. Advance tickets only. No tickets will be available at the door.

If you don’t want to buy tickets online, you can also purchase tickets by mailing in a check to the address on our web site. The ticket price covers the many costs associated with putting on a first class event – including catering, a heated tent, table and chair rental, etc.

The SCCi Now Owns Run To The Mill Cave!

The SCCi is extremely pleased to announce our newest cave preserve, Run To The Mill. This cave is a TAG classic, with a deep pit, beautiful formation areas, miles of passage, and large borehole. The cave is over 15,000 feet long and 445 feet deep, with a 167-foot deep pit. It’s a caver’s cave. And it’s one more cave that we can permanently remove from the TAG Closed Cave List.

Support This Purchase! Buy a Piece of a Cave Preserve! This is our newest purchase, and it cost $200,000. We need your help to pay for it.  You’ll receive a thank-you gift of your choice. To provide ongoing support and help us fund other purchases of other amazing caves, please consider signing up as a Sustaining Member. Our sustainers give us the monthly income we need to pay for our caves and to purchase new caves. You may also make a general donation to support our work across the southeast. We are able to purchase caves we all love because of YOU!

We signed the closing paperwork transferring ownership of the property to the SCCi just last week, so we’re still creating a management committee and defining access policies. We will post all of the information about how to visit the cave as soon as we can. In the meantime, to give you a better idea of why this cave is such a fantastic purchase for the SCCi and all of our members, here are just a few photos of the cave Buddy Lane provided. We look forward to seeing photos from all of you now that cavers can once again visit this wonderful cave. For even more photos, please visit our Facebook page.

Entrance to Run To The Mill CaveEntrance to Run To The Mill

 Run To The Mill Cave
One of many formation areas in Run To The Mill
Run To The Mill Cave
The top of Tilted Well, a 167-foot deep pit in the cave
Run To The MillLooking up the pit in Run To The Mill


Run To The Mill CaveBorehole in the lower level of Run To The Mill

We would like to thank all of the people who support the SCCi with your time and money. It’s thanks to our supporters that we are able to finance such incredible purchases. If you are happy about this new cave purchase, please consider supporting us!

Buy a Tumbling Rock Brick