Bone Cave State State Natural Area
Big Bone Cave is a 400-acre natural area located in Van Buren County on the Cumberland Plateau escarpment. It is named for the discovery of the bones of a giant ground sloth (Megalonyx jeffersonii) in 1811.This skeleton, now on display at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, represents the only known specimen of a giant ground sloth with a complete pelvis. Also significant was the 1971 discovery of the bones of a pleistocene jaguar (Panthera onca augusta).
The cave also has historical significance as a saltpeter mine during the War of 1812 and the Civil War, when as many as 300 miners mined the nitrate. The artifacts are remarkably well preserved in the dry cave and represent the state's best-preserved saltpeter mining artifacts. Artifacts in the cave include wooden water pipes, railways, catwalks, ore carts, hoppers, vats and ladders.
Because of the occurrence of bats with white nose syndrome (WNS) in Tennessee, caves on state owned lands are closed to the public until further notice. Cave closures are in effect at this and all other state natural areas where caves are located. For more information about white nose syndrome go to: http://www.tn.gov/twra/tnbwg/wns.html
For More Information
Bone Cave Mountain Road
Spencer, TN 38585
Phone: (931) 686-2471
- Rocky River Cabins, 2.2 miles away
- Old Times Cafe, 2.3 miles away
- Pizza Pit, 2.4 miles away
- Burritt College, 2.7 miles away
- Cumberland Plateau Retreat, 4.1 miles away