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Tuckaleechee Caverns

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Rock formations in the Tuckaleechee Caverns

Tuckaleechee Caverns (pronunciation) is a tourist attraction and the largest and highest rated cave or cavern by AAA east of the Mississippi River.[citation needed] Tuckaleechee runs under the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Townsend, Tennessee. The caverns were used by Cherokees in the 17th and 18th century, but they were re-discovered in the mid-19th century by sawmill employees in the area. The caverns were opened for tours in 1931 by Earl McCampbell, but the business shut down after one year due to economic impacts of the Great Depression. The caverns were re-opened to the public by Townsend locals Bill Vananda and Harry Myers in 1953. The first tours were taken by kerosene lamps until electricity was wired through the caverns in 1955. The caverns are known for the "Big Room" that could almost fit a football stadium inside it. The "Big Room" is an immense cave/cavern room with many stalagmites reaching 24 feet (7.3 m) tall with flow-stone formations hundreds of feet in length and width. Another large room exists beyond the "Big Room" but is not opened for tours as part of the cavern would have to be destroyed in order to make it accessible to the public. In the 1980s, the Myers sold their shares of the business to the Vanandas, who have operated the caverns since.

Tuckaleechee Caverns also has the tallest[citation needed] underground waterfall named "Silver Falls", a 210-foot (64 m) two-tier waterfall. The cavern originates at White Oak Sinks in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The caverns also host a seismograph system monitored by the United States Department of Defense and the United States Geological Survey (USGS).[1]


  1. ^ "Tuckaleechee Caverns: Greatest Site Under the Smokies". Blue Ridge Digest (Fall 2016): 22. Retrieved January 8, 2017.

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