Mega Cavern

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Mega Cavern
General information
Location 1841 Taylor Ave.
Louisville, Kentucky
Website
www.louisvillemegacavern.com

The Mega Cavern is a former limestone mine in Louisville, Kentucky. The cave stretches under parts of the Watterson Expressway and the Louisville Zoo. Due to its support structures, it is classified as a building and is the largest building in Kentucky.[1] The cavern is used for business, storage, recycling, and tourism, with offerings including tram-guided tours, zipline tours, a ropes course, a mountain bike park, and an annual holiday lights display.

Description[edit]

The Mega Cavern is 4,000,000 square feet (370,000 m2).[2] structure located in Louisville, Kentucky with an entrance at 1841 Taylor Ave. About 75–100 feet (23–30 m) underground,[3][4][5] the cave stretches under parts of the Watterson Expressway and the Louisville Zoo.[6] Due to its support structures, it is classified as a building and is the largest building in Kentucky.[2]

History and use[edit]

Limestone mine[edit]

The cavern started as Louisville Crushed Stone. It was created by a massive limestone quarry—with miners blasting out a mind-boggling amount of rock for over 42 years during the middle of the 20th century. It was acquired in 1989 by private investors who saw the potential to develop a portion of the cavern into an environmentally-conscious high security commercial storage facility.

Renovation[edit]

Business park[edit]

Exhausted of its mineable limestone, the property was purchased by Jim Lowry, Tom Tyler and Don Tyler in 1989 to be made into a "high-security business park". In February 2015, the cavern housed 12 businesses in around 700,000 square feet (65,000 m2).[7]

Storage[edit]

Because of its relatively stable temperature around 50–60 °F (10–16 °C)[3][7][8][9] and humidity, the cavern was renovated to be used for storage. To be useful, the floor was raised by filling in parts of the mine with recycled materials.[5] A fire-resistant safety corridor was also installed as an emergency exit. Various rooms are located throughout the cavern to store various items from road salt and vehicles to pretzels and amusement park rides.

Tourism[edit]

In 2009, the Mega Cavern began offering a Jeep-drawn tour of the area where the floor had been raised.[7] Around Christmas, the cavern hosts "Lights Under Louisville" where visitors can drive through the cavern and view lighted holiday decorations;[6][10][11][12][13] it is the largest such underground display in the world.[8] Several years later, a zipline tour and a ropes course were added to the offerings.[6][7]

With national and international attention,[14][15] an underground mountain bike park was opened to riders of all skill levels in February 2015. It was designed by Joe Prisel[1][16] with families in mind,[5] and constructed in over 3 months.[5][16][17] With 45 trails in 350,000 sq ft (33,000 m2) of the cavern's space, it is the world's largest indoor bicycle park.[2][3][6][7][17] The 12 miles (19 km) of trails[18] (over 5 mi (8.0 km) interconnected[5]) include "jump lines, pump tracks, dual slalom, BMX, cross country, and singletrack"[9] and signs to indicate the difficulty of the trails.[3][8] Bike rentals are planned to be offered in the near future.[9][17] Partially due to the Mega Cavern's recycling business that filled the cave, trails are built with in layers with a rough bottom, sticky, red clay middle, and "good stuff" on top.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Upcycling, Underground: Huge Bike Park Opens In Former Limestone Mine". NPR.org. February 10, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c ABC News. "See the BMX Park 100 Feet Below the Earth's Surface". ABC News.
  3. ^ a b c d "Mega Underground Bike Park in Louisville Cavern opens - Business Insider". Business Insider. February 10, 2015.
  4. ^ "This new underground bike park totally rules". Grist.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Urban Bike Parks Step Up Their Game". Outside Online.
  6. ^ a b c d "Underground bike park sets admission rates". Louisville Business First. January 20, 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Underground Bike Park Opens in Louisville's Mega Cavern". 89.3 WFPL.
  8. ^ a b c Kirby Adams (December 12, 2014). "Mega Cavern's soon to be opened Mega Underground Bike Park". The Courier-Journal.
  9. ^ a b c "One-of-a-kind bike park opens in Louisville". WHAS. February 9, 2015.
  10. ^ Shafer, Sheldon S. Shafer (May 27, 2009). "Cavern under zoo has opened for tours". Courier-Journal. Archived from the original on May 28, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-28.
  11. ^ Sanders, Stephanie (May 28, 2009). "MEGA Cavern Opens Monday". Louisville Public Media. WFPL. Archived from the original on August 9, 2011. Retrieved 2009-05-28.
  12. ^ "New Attraction Opens In Louisville". WLKY.com. WLKY. May 28, 2009. Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved 2009-05-28.
  13. ^ "Louisville Mega Cavern - About Us". Archived from the original on 2009-05-17. Retrieved 2009-05-28.
  14. ^ Kirby Adams (February 3, 2015). "The Today Show comes to the Louisville Mega Cavern". The Courier-Journal.
  15. ^ Kirby Adams (February 9, 2015). "Louisville Mega Underground Bike Park opens to the public". The Courier-Journal.
  16. ^ a b Courtney Godfrey (February 4, 2015). "World's first underground bike park to open in Louisville Monday". wdrb.com.
  17. ^ a b c Cedra Mayfield (February 9, 2015). "Bike park nestled 100 feet underground opens in Louisville". wave3.com.
  18. ^ Kirby Adams (February 9, 2015). "Louisville Mega Cavern's Mega Bike Park opens Monday". The Courier-Journal.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°12′06″N 85°42′15″W / 38.201585°N 85.704127°W / 38.201585; -85.704127