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Cathedral Caverns State Park

Cathedral Caverns State Park is an Alabama state park located in northern Marshall County. Cathedral Caverns is located three miles south of U.S. 72 between Grant & Woodville, Alabama.

Cathedral Caverns State Park FROM GUNTERSVILLE: Take Highway 431 north to County Road 5. Turn right and go through Grant, Alabama. Turn right at the Cathedral Caverns rock sign and follow the signs.
FROM HUNTSVILLE: Take Highway 72 east to Highway 63. Turn right and go until you see the Cathedral Caverns rock sign. Turn left and follow the signs.
FROM SCOTTSBORO: Take Highway 72 west to Highway 63. Turn left and go until you the Cathedral Caverns rock sign. Turn left and follow the signs.

Cathedral Caverns State Park Headquarters
637 Cave Road
Woodville, AL. 35776
256-728-8193

The cave, originally named Bats Cave, was first developed as an attraction by Jay Gurley in the late 1950s. It was declared a National Natural Landmark in 1972.

Description
Cathedral Cavern is a Karst cave with a large stalagmite forest covering approximately 3 acres. The caverns are approximately 11,000+ feet surveyed and explored cave with 8-foot-wide concrete walkways that are wheelchair accessible. The public portion of the cave extends approximately 3,500 feet and has some 2 miles of paths; another 2,700 feet extend beyond the end of the pathway. There is a crystal room that is now open to the public on a limited basis as part of the "Wild Cave Tour."

The cave system has laid claim to several world records though their accuracy has been disputed. Among the caverns' notable features are:

  • the widest entrance of any commercial cave in the world - 25 feet tall and 128 feet wide.

  • the largest column in the world - Goliath, measuring 45 feet tall and 243 feet in circumference.

  • the largest flow stone wall - 32 feet tall and 135 feet long.

  • the most improbable formation in the world - a 3-inch-diameter stalagmite which rises at a 45-degree angle from a rock formation to the cave ceiling 25 feet above.

  • a Big Room, which is 792 feet long and 200 feet wide.

The Mystery River flows through the cavern. Due to limited outflow, the cave is subject to flooding after heavy rain.

History
The Kennamer family's ancestors settled in the cave a long time ago, hence the name of the cave. Mr. Gurley, eventually, saw the cave and bought it from the Kennamer family.

Mr. Gurley maintained the cave as a tourist attraction from 1959 to 1974. The cave was sold in 1975 at an auction. The State of Alabama bought the cave in 1987 with the intent to reopen the site as a state park. After funding delays, restoration work actually began in 1995. In May 2000, the Cavern re-opened to the public.

In 1983, principal photography for the 1984 horror film Secrets of the Phantom Caverns took place in the caverns. In 1995, Cathedral Caverns provided the cave settings for the Disney Studios film Tom and Huck starring Jonathan Taylor Thomas as Tom Sawyer and Brad Renfro as Huckleberry Finn.

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

Park activities
In addition to cave tours, the state park offers gem mining, picnicking, and tent camping. 

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