Thursday, March 27, 2008

An Early Description of the Florida Caverns


From the time human beings first discovered what is now Jackson County, they have been fascinated with the beautiful caves in the Marianna area. Written accounts of the caves date back to 1693, when Spanish missionaries wrote of them in their journals.
One of my favorite early accounts was written in 1842 by the editor of the Tallahassee Sentinel newspaper. He participated in an exploration of a cave at today's Florida Caverns State Park:
"A few weeks since, in company with some eight or ten ladies and gentlemen, we explored one of the largest and most interesting caves yet discovered in Florida. It is situated some four miles from Marianna, near the east bank of the Chipola river, and in the vicinity of Dr. Cheeseborough’s plantation. Its entrance is on the side of a small hill, the mouth sufficiently large to admit two persons at a time in a standing posture. After furnishing ourselves with lighted candles we commenced our “exploring expedition.” A few steps led us into a large subterranean hall, of very irregular and curious structure. Its floor was quite uneven; and its roof thickly studded with glittering stalactites, forming a splendid arch, apparently supported by finely chiseled pillars of solid rock. After proceeding some distance, clambering over rocks, jumping ravines, now ascending land, anon descending, we at length reached a fine, cool spring, which gushed forth from a cleft in a large rock situated in a remote corner of the first apartment. After refreshing ourselves at this beautiful fountain, we pursued our uneven course, into the next apartment, which presented much the appearance of the first. Having by this time become somewhat fatigued – the atmosphere being rather oppressive – we retraced our steps, and once more emerged into the light of day without meeting with any accident. We think the position of the cave we explored was about 150 yards in length and ranging, in height, from 6 to 16 feet. It is said to contain other apartments."
You can read more about the history of Florida Caverns State Park at www.exploresouthernhistory.com. Just follow the link and look for the Florida Caverns heading.

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