Cathedral Caverns State Park

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Cathedral Caverns State Park
Alabama State Park
Country United States
State Alabama
County Marshall
Coordinates Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Area 461 acres (187 ha) [1]
Opened to public 1959
 - State purchase 1987
 - State park opened 2000
Management Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
IUCN category III - Natural Monument
Location in Alabama
Website: Cathedral Caverns State Park
Designated June 1972

Cathedral Caverns State Park is a publicly owned recreation area and natural history preserve located in Kennamer Cove, approximately 5 miles (8.0 km) northeast of Grant and 7 miles (11 km) southeast of Woodville in Marshall County, Alabama. The state park's main feature, first known as Bats Cave, was developed as a tourist attraction in the 1950s. Cathedral Caverns was declared a National Natural Landmark in 1972[2] and opened as a state park in 2000.[3]


Cathedral Cavern is a karst cave with a large stalagmite forest covering approximately 3 acres (1.2 ha).[4] Some 11,000 feet (3,400 m) have been surveyed and explored.[1] The public portion of the cave along 8-foot-wide (2.4 m) wheelchair-accessible, concrete walkways extends approximately 3,500 feet (1,100 m) and has some 2 miles (3.2 km) of paths; another 2,700 feet (820 m) extend beyond the end of the pathway.[4] Only experienced cavers are allowed to go beyond the developed trail.[1] The cave system laid claim to many world records in its commercial heyday though their accuracy has been disputed.[5]


Notable features of the caverns include:

  • an entrance measuring 25 feet (7.6 m) tall and 128 feet (39 m), believed to be the world's widest entrance to a commercial cave;[3]
  • the column known as Goliath, one of the largest stalagmites in the world measuring 45 feet (14 m) tall and 243 feet (74 m) in circumference;[3]
  • the large flow stone "waterfall," 32 feet (9.8 m) tall and 135 feet (41 m) long;
  • an "improbable" stalagmite, only 3 inches (76 mm) in diameter at its base and rising at a 45-degree angle from a rock formation to the cave ceiling 25 feet (7.6 m) above;[4]
  • the Big Room, 792 feet (241 m) long and 200 feet (61 m) wide;
  • the Mystery River, which flows through the cavern and which due to limited outflow may cause flooding after heavy rain.[4]


Archaeological excavations at the mouth of Cathedral Caverns have indicated occupation by Native Americans as recently as 200 years ago and perhaps as early as 7000 BCE.[4]

The area that includes the cavern was settled by the Kennamer family and became known as Kennamers Cove. During the Civil War, the Kennamer family lived in the cave for an extended period of time after their farmhouse was burned down by Union soldiers.

The cave was maintained as a tourist attraction by Jay Gurley from 1959 to 1974. It was sold at auction in 1975 to Tom German, who in turn sold it to the State of Alabama in 1987. After funding delays, the state began restoration work in 1995. The cavern was re-opened to the public as Cathedral Caverns State Park in May 2000.[6]

Activities and amenities

The park offers cave tours and gem mining plus facilities for picnicking and camping.[3]

In popular culture

The caverns provided a location for two motion pictures: in 1983, principal photography for the horror film Secrets of the Phantom Caverns took place in the caverns,[7] and in 1995, they provided the cave settings for the Disney Studios film Tom and Huck.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Cathedral Caverns" (PDF). Alabama State Parks. May 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 10, 2012. Retrieved March 9, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Cathedral Caverns". National Natural Landmarks Program. National Park Service. Retrieved November 4, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Cathedral Caverns State Park". Alabama State Parks. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Retrieved November 16, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Rainer, David (October 2008). "Cathedral Caverns Inspire Awe" (PDF). Outdoor Alabama. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 18, 2010. Retrieved November 16, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Duckeck, Jochen. "Cathedral Caverns: Bat Cave". Show Caves of the World. Retrieved November 16, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Ress, Thomas V. "Cathedral Caverns State Park". The Encyclopedia of Alabama. Alabama Humanities Foundation. Retrieved October 5, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Gas blamed for illness, panic on set: Caves are being used to shoot sci-fi flick". Miami Herald. August 23, 1983. p. 3B. Retrieved July 19, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links