|Location:||Grant, AL. Between Scottsboro and Guntersville. From Huntsville Hwy 72 E exit on Jackson County Road 63 toward Grant. After 5km turn left, signposted.|
Park: all year daily 9-17.
Cave: SEP to 14-MAR daily 10, 12, 14, 16.
15-MAR to AUG daily 10:15, 11:15, 12:15, 13:15, 14:15, 15:15, 16.
Closed 01-JAN, Thanksgiving, 25-DEC.
Adults USD 12, Children (6-11) USD 6, Children (0-5) free.
Groups (25+): Adults USD 10, with reservation.
School Groups: Students USD 5, Chaperons USD 8.
|Guided tours:||L=1084m, D=60min.|
|Bibliography:||The Reader's Digest, June 1962|
|Address:||Cathedral Caverns, 637 Cave Rd., Woodville, AL 35776, Tel: +1-256-728-8193, Fax: +1-256-728-8193. E-mail:|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1803||Hans Kennamer settles at the cave entrance.|
|1952||first seen by Jay Gurley.|
|1955||bought by Jay Gurley.|
|1959||opened to the public.|
|1987||bought by the State of Alabama, became a State Park.|
|1993||a federal grant was awarded to fund the work for reopening the cave.|
|1995||restoration work actually began.|
|05-MAY-2000||reopened to the public.|
Cathedral Caverns was developed by a single man, Jay Gurley, who after he had first seen the cave, sold all his posessions to buy it and worked ten years to make it a show cave. He used 65km of cable to install an electric lighting with 80,000 Watt. When he showed this cave to his wife the first time, she was impressed by the huge Big Room. She said it resembled her a cathedral. At this time the cave was called Bat Cave, but Gurley changed the name into Cathedral Caverns.
The area is called Kennamer Cove after the Kennamer family, who settled here in 1803. Their house stood 275m north of the cave. Like the native Indians before, they must have known the cave, at least the entrance. It was noted for its cave creek, and the fact that it stayed warm in the coldest winter and cool enough during summer to store meat. We guess they never entered the cave very far, and so we guess it was really Jay Gurley who first explored and discovered the beautiful cave behind.
This cave has the world's largest cave entrance, 7.6 meters high by 38.4 meters wide. And, of course it has world's largest stalagmite, called Goliath. Kindof. Probably this cave has Alabamas largest cave entrance, we do not know this. But there are at least dozens of other caves with taller entrances all over the world. Have a look at our list of Caves With The Tallest Cave Entrance to find many of them. Caves in the upper league have more than 120m high and 100m wide entrances, we think thats a little more than 38.4m. The same is with tallest stalagmites, see Caves With The Tallest Stalagmite. Goliath is 13.7m high and 74m in circumference.
It is always funny to us, to discover such absurd world records. But the problem is: thousands of cave visitors will believe this nonsense. So why do the cave guides tell this sort of lies? We guess that in most cases they just do not know better.
In the case of Cathedral Caverns it is much worse: it seems they lately searched the internet or speleological literature, to find new statistical highlights. So they now offer six different world records, which are either a bit complicated, like the widest entrance of any commercial cave in the world (which is not true either). Or they are simply fantastic, like the largest frozen waterfall. By inventing a new type of speleothem which does not exist anywhere else, their own one is definitely the biggest one.
We think that this cave even holds two more world records: cave with worlds most faked world records and cave with the coolest and most educated cave guides in the world. So if you visit Cathedral Caverns, enjoy the natural beauty of the place, the impressive entrance, the huge chamber and the speleothems and do not believe anything your guide tells you!
And a last word. I enjoyed reading about the superlatives of this cave. I also enjoyed writing this article. About once a year I receive an infuriated email from someone who is angry that I insulted "his" cave. Two arguments are in each of those emails.
First, this cave was really beautiful and why could I say a bad word about such a beautiful cave, if I never visited it. The fact that I never visited this cave is true, although the writers just assumed this. I guess I would be killed by infuriated cave guides if I did. However, by carfully reading the text above you will see, that I never disputed the beauty of the cave.
The second argument is the fact that I insulted the guides, which, obviously, do not work any more at the cave and actually the tours are now as accurate and informative as possible. I can't insult someone by telling he was a liar, if he really is a liar. And obviously they have some energy in inventing creative superlatives. However, the official State Park(!) website still tells the Goliath is tallest stuff until today [JUL-2007]! How should I believe they do not tell this at the tour?
At last I really enjoy the emails I recieve. They are almost as funny as the faked world records. Keep sending them.
Update 27-SEP-2008: We recieved an email from Bill who went to the cave this morning. He has seen signs telling about the 4 world records. And he guesses that they were kept from the early days of the cave before it was a State Park. He says this was the way roadside attractions marketed themselves. We have heard similar things, and actually this is the same all over the world. The owners of commercial caves are normally not very good in geology, so they tell some stories or probably some "facts" they heard 20 years ago. And so it might be extremely outdated and actually wrong. On the other hand, it is now a State Park, and they should start telling more accurate facts and probably explain how those legends started.
Three more comments by Bill, we are happy to publish here: (1) Disney filmed their film Tom and Huck here, (2) if you get the chance to visit, it's worth it, and (3) the guides are quite nice. No objections from our side.