Big Bone Cave

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Big Bone Cave
Big bone cave saltpeter vat.jpg
Civil-war era saltpeter vat in Big Bone Cave
Location Van Buren County, Tennessee, United States
Length 9.627 m (15.494 km)
Discovery c. 1810
Geology Monteagle Limestone
Entrances 2
List of
Main Entrance, Arch Cave Entrance (collapsed)
Hazards histoplasmosis


Big Bone Cave
Location Van Buren County, Tennessee, United States
Nearest city Bone Cave, Tennessee
NRHP Reference # 73001853
Added to NRHP April 11, 1973
Cave salamander in Bone Cave

Big Bone Cave is a cave located in Van Buren County, Tennessee, in the community of Bone Cave. It is notable both for its history and current recreational use. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a 334-acre (1.4 km2) State Natural Area[1] managed by Rock Island State Park. It is named for the discovery of the bones of a giant ground sloth in 1811. The cave was operated as a saltpeter mine, notably during the War of 1812 and the American Civil War. A variety of natural remains and human artifacts has been well preserved in the dry atmosphere of the cave. The cave is the 7th longest mapped cave in Tennessee.

Big Bone Cave lent its name to the surrounding community of Bone Cave, Tennessee.[2]


  1. ^ Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Big Bone Cave Natural Area
  2. ^ Miller, Larry L. (2001). Tennessee Place-names. Indiana University Press. p. 26. ISBN 0-253-21478-5. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Smyre, John L. and Zawislak, Ronald L., (2007) Big Bone and the Caves of Bone Cave Mountain , Rocky River Press, Rock Island Tennessee ISBN 978-0-9779471-0-2 ISBN 0-9779471-0-6
  • Matthews, Larry E. (2006) Big Bone Cave, National Speleological Society ISBN 1-879961-24-5
  • Barr, Thomas C., Jr., "Caves Of Tennessee", Bulletin 64 of the Tennessee Division of Geology, 1961. See pages 451-460.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°46′30″N 85°35′06″W / 35.77500°N 85.58500°W / 35.77500; -85.58500