The Lost Sea is part of Craighead Caverns, which stretch from Sweetwater to Madisonville. Because of the quantity of limestone in the region, there are numerous caves in east and middle Tennessee (about 10,000 thus far). A small inland sea covered this region 250 million years ago, resulting to the limestone formation. As the land was raised 90 million years ago, the sea dried up, and surface water started to flow through the limestone bedrock, dissolving it and generating these big and tiny caverns. You should be mindful about your attire when you are visiting the Lost Sea. From this article, we will share more details on what to wear to the Lost Sea.
What is the Lost Sea all about?
For thousands of years, mankind has known and utilised the caverns. The Cherokee held meetings in the “Council Room,” a big cave near the entrance. There have been several antiquities collected there, including ceramics and jewelry. Later, European residents in the region exploited the caverns as food storage, which was convenient since the caves maintain a constant temperature of 58 degrees all year.
In these tunnels, Confederate troops mined saltpeter and left graffiti for us to see. The ash from the warriors’ torches was used to write the names and dates in black on the cave walls, which carbon dating has confirmed. (The names in black are historical; the ones in white were etched into the rock more recently. It’s remarkable to note how little the emotion “I was here” has altered through time.
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What to wear to the Lost Sea?
Wear robust, traction-enhancing footwear. The cave’s passageways are made of compacted earth and are constantly somewhat slippery owing to the extreme humidity. Although no one slipped and fell, it might easily have occurred multiple times. If necessary, use the handrails.
Because the caverns are always 58 degrees, I would wear long pants or carry a light jacket. However, the heavy humidity maintains it at a comfortable 58 degrees. Before your tour, use the restrooms close to the ticket counter. It’ll be your final opportunity before the tour ends. Look for the Pleistocene jaguar skull and footprints, as well as the lake’s biggest fish ever caught. Both are kept in cases at the ticket counter.
Exploring the Lost Sea
In 1939, the bones of a Pleistocene (think Ice Age) jaguar, together with its tracks, were discovered in one of the cave’s deeper chambers, making it one of the cave’s most exciting finds. The animal may have fallen down into the cave and been unable to escape. The skull and part of the bones are on show in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, but reproductions and plaster casts of the footprints are on display at the entry tunnel in a display case.
The Regular Tour: What to Expect
The entry road to The Lost Sea leads you through various parking lots and a group of buildings to your left and one structure to your right as you exit Highway 68. Park as near as possible to the ticket office and cave entrance on the right side of the road. You may purchase tickets in advance online, but you must still check in at the ticket counter to be placed on the next available tour.
The Regular Tour lasts around an hour and 15 minutes and requires that you be somewhat mobile. The route is 3/4 mile long and descends 140 feet to the lake (and more importantly, 140 ft back up to the surface). The path is broad and slanted in places, but there are enough handrails.
Because the cave chambers are so spacious, claustrophobia should not be a problem on the usual tour unless you can’t handle being underground at all.
Stalactites, stalagmites, anchorites (unique crystalline formations), an ancient moonshine still, Civil War graffiti, and a waterfall may all be found on the road to and from the lake. When they turn out the lights, you will also experience absolute darkness for approximately a minute, which is a delight for everyone.
The boat excursion takes around 15 minutes, and each big, flat-bottomed boat can comfortably accommodate 15-20 people. You will not experience motion sickness since the water is absolutely calm, giving you the sensation of gliding rather than driving through the lake.
In the 1960s and 1970s, giant white trout were introduced to the lake in the hopes that they would find their way out, be captured, and the tags would be returned, allowing them to determine where the exits could be. However, trout dislike swimming in the dark, so they would not leave the illuminated areas of the lake, and we still have no idea where the water flows. The trout, on the other hand, are plump and content. Because they are constantly fed and fishing is prohibited, they will approach the boat. Through the bottom glass panels, you can also see them swimming under the boat.