September 20, 2005 — South Pittsburg, Tennessee
The Southeastern Cave Conservancy is pleased to announce that it has completed the purchase of South Pittsburg Pit, located in the city of South Pittsburg in Marion County, Tennessee. The cave has a beautiful 160-foot entrance pit and more than 2,200 feet of surveyed passage, and has been a popular destination for cavers since its initial exploration by Chattanooga Grotto members in February 1964.
In 1997, the Conservancy leased the rights to the cave and one acre of surrounding land. For seven years, the SCCi managed access and kept the cave open for visitation. In 2004, the lease expired, and the owner chose not to renew it. Instead, the 1,900-acre property containing the cave was listed for sale. Since that time, the SCCi has been working to purchase the cave and a reasonable buffer of land around it.
Early in 2005, the property containing the cave was sold to a developer. SCCi representatives contacted the new owner and made a proposal to purchase the cave and some of the land around it. Many months of negotiation followed. On August 15, 2005, a sales contract was signed between the new owner and the SCCi. Closing of the sale occurred on September 20.
The South Pittsburg Pit Preserve includes the pit entrance and ten acres overlying the cave passages, as well as easements for access to and from the preserve. The seller has also donated an additional ten acres to serve as a buffer against future development in the area. Access to the twenty-acre preserve is available via the established trail which begins behind the water tank above Lloyd Park in South Pittsburg.
The purchase is being financed by a 10-year, $40,000 mortgage. Donations to support the purchase and help pay off the mortgage are welcome. Contributions may be made by check or credit card, and may be mailed to SCCi, PO Box PO Box 71857, Chattanooga TN 37407-0857. Contributions are tax-deductible in accordance with IRS rules for section 501(c)(3) charitable organizations.
The South Pittsburg Pit Preserve is the SCCi’s 22nd cave preserve. The SCCi owns or leases 51 other caves, and this purchase increases its holdings to 1,169 acres of cave and karst lands in six states.