Episode 3229.1 | Lost River Cave | Tennessee Crossroads

Our first stop is
Bowling Green, Kentucky, and a unique urban
nature center. Now, the highlight of this
center is an underground river that flows into a cave,
the Lost River Cave. It’s an ancient marvel of nature that now attracts modern-day
adventure seekers. (water rushing) A river runs through
Bowling Green, Kentucky. One that flows above
and below the ground. Eventually escaping into a
mysterious natural wonder, the Lost River Cave. – [Rho] We are an
urban nature sanctuary in the heart of Bowling Green. Surrounded by the
history of the cave and the beauty of nature,
we have an amazing place to come to work everyday. – [Joe] That’s Rho Lansden,
CEO of a 60-acre attraction that draws about 80
thousand people a year. Many come just to
walk the trails, others come to fly above them,
but more about that later. But the main attraction
is, of course, the cave. And according to tour
manager, Chad Singer, it was once a refuge for
ancient Native Americans, a few famous outlaws,
and much more. – Even during the Civil
War, Lost River Cave, this whole valley that we’re in, at one point may have had
between 15,000 to 20,000 troops from both sides
here at one point. – [Joe] For about a century,
the river was dammed to make power for
grain and lumber mills which either flooded or burned. But in 1933, the milldam was
rebuilt to run a waterwheel that generated electricity
for cave-tourers and even a nightclub. (big band music) The Cavern Night Club, complete with bandstand
and dance floor, was a popular entertainment
attraction for decades. Thanks, in part, to
its cool temperatures in a time when air
conditioning was rare. But by the early 60’s,
the nightclub closed and the cave fell into neglect, eventually becoming
a dumping site. – [Chad] But then, you know,
Western Kentucky got involved with trying to find the true
depths of the blue holes and, you know, trying to see
what was really going on here in this unique geological
feature that we have. And then, some students
got extra credit to help do the cleanup, and
we were able to pull out 55 tons of trash from the
cave and from the valley. – [Joe] In the mid 1990’s,
a non-profit group, Friends of Lost River,
reopened the cave, and now explorers of all
ages can enjoy boat tours through this geological wonder. Now, when you begin the tour,
the operative word is duck, as you pass under this
low, limestone ceiling, before the cave opens up
into a four-story cavern. (dramatic music) – [Chad] Now, this
room that we’re in is what we call the breakdown room. It’s about a
four-story tall room. Caves in this area are
going to be kind of notable by having these bigger
portions to it first, and then they’re gonna
kind of taper down as well throughout. As we go through
here, you may feel a nice cold, wet drip
of water on your heads, and that’s what we
call a cave kiss. Yup. We know it’s not that big, but we still think
it’s impressive. It’s pretty neat. (dramatic music) – [Joe] Eventually, we
arrive at a newer dam, built to control the
ever-changing water level. – [Chad] This is a great example
of cave coral, or popcorn. This is just, well it’s
going to be littered with it. No matter where
that water’s going, it’s gonna be carrying
those minerals too. – [Joe] The natural
beauty is obvious, but the tour also
offers a lesson in the cave’s delicate ecology. – [Chad] Now, and
here’s the thing, in a karst environment,
a drop of oil, say leaving a car that’s
going overtop of our road with a little bit of rainwater
like we’re gonna have today, within an hour and a half,
those oils can get down here. You know, where you have caves, oils and pollutants are
gonna move very fast, and it’s going to damage these
environments that are here. Like I’ve been saying, it’s
a very unstable ecosystem. It’s not gonna bounce back. – [Joe] Before long, we return
to the mouth of the cave, back into natural light. But we’re not leaving
until we sample a new adventure of
the Lost River Valley. (upbeat rock music) In April, 2018, the Flying
Squirrel Zip-line was opened to visitors who want a high ride over this wooded wonderland. So with help from Chad and
his assistant, Heather, photographer Paul and I,
geared up to give it a go. (upbeat rock music) (zip-lines whir) What a ride. And what a place to
commune with nature, whether you’re zipping
through the trees, floating through a
cave, or just strolling down a quiet trail.

4 thoughts on “Episode 3229.1 | Lost River Cave | Tennessee Crossroads

  1. Follow my journey at LostCreekRambler on Instagram. Showing off the true hidden spots of Tennessee.

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