Same Family Still In Charge At Sequoyah Caverns

Sunday, August 17, 2008
Entrance to Sequoyah Caverns
Entrance to Sequoyah Caverns

The seventh generation of the same family continues to welcome visitors to an amazing cave at Valley Head, Ala.

John David Jones, great-grandson of pioneer settler James Ellis, lives in the old homeplace, and his son, Roy Lee Jones II, operates Sequoyah Caverns nearby.

Representing the seventh generation, Rebecca Jones leads tours of the cave and John Paul Jones works the farm.

James Ellis came from Tennessee in 1841 and accumulated hundreds of acres in the scenic location in the valley between Lookout and Sand mountains. He built a log cabin and later a frame house where a campground is today.

During the Civil War, James Ellis fought with the Union. He died from a camp disease in 1863 and is buried at the Chickamauga Battlefield. Four of his sons served in the war - three fought for the Union and one fought for the Confederacy. Only two of the sons survived the war. Another son, Abner, was too young to fight.

After the war, the Ellis family raised corn, cotton, wheat and oats, as well as making sorghum and raising sheep and cattle.

There are still goats on the grounds near the cave, and one "Houdini" goat can frequently be seen roaming around after somehow escaping from the pen. There's also a curious peacock who is likely to wander up to the cars of cave visitors.

Rock City leased Sequoyah Caverns for a few years in the 1970s, but mainly the same family has been in charge - as they are still.

The cave itself includes several large rooms and some fascinating formations and fossils. An albino crawfish, a bat, and an odd stone carving found by one-time operator Clark Byers at Ider, Ala., are among sights along the way.

One large room is sometimes rented for dances, campouts or other functions.

Rebecca Jones is a fount of information on cave lore, including the story of her father, Roy, going in to check out the cave just after Hurricane Ivan hit and having to swim out when the water was up to his neck after it suddenly began pouring in the cave walls.

To go to Sequoyah Caverns from Chattanooga, take I-24 toward Lookout Valley, then take I-59 leading toward Birmingham. The cave is located soon after you cross into Alabama from Dade County, Ga.

Rebecca and Roy Jones
Rebecca and Roy Jones

Two JAWsome Events Coming To Chattanooga

When guests step into the Tennessee Aquarium’s shark cage, they’re stepping back in time. It was an important piece of equipment used during the filming of “Blue Water, White Death,” the first underwater documentary about Great White Sharks. The film was released in 1971 and is widely recognized as having inspired author Peter Benchley to write the novel “JAWS.”  Four years ... (click for more)

All Things Swiss On Display At Gruetli-Laager

All things Swiss were on display at the annual Swiss Celebration at Gruetli-Laager in Grundy County on Saturday. The event is held each summer at the Stoker-Stampfli Farm Museum. Over 100 Swiss families settled in the mountains of Tennessee, but found it not so well suited to agricultural purposes and eventually moved on to Belvidere, Tn. An association has created a farm ... (click for more)

Truck Driver Who Caused Wreck That Killed 6 People At Ooltewah Indicted On 13 Charges; Report Says He Drove Excessive Hours

The Chattanooga Police Department has issued a capias for the arrest of Benjamin Brewer, 39, concerning the multiple fatality traffic crash that occurred on I-75 northbound on June 25. Brewer was indicted on Monday on 13 counts.  They include six counts of vehicular homicide by impairment, a B-felony; four counts for reckless aggravated assault, a D-felony; one count for DUI ... (click for more)

Sterling Jetton Seeks Office Of Hamilton County Assessor Of Property

Rev. Sterling Jetton announced that he will seek the Republican nomination for the office of Hamilton County assessor of property.  The Republican Primary will be held on March 1.  After serving in the United States Army and the National Guard, Mr. Jetton has worked as an employee of the Assessor of Property’s office for 27 years.  Mr. Jetton has also served in ... (click for more)

Why Is The City Diverting Federal Transportation Funds From Real Need?

The city of Chattanooga and CBL, owner of Hamilton Place Mall, would have the mass of taxpayers believe that improving mall access from the interstate is not impacting us financially.   Namely, CBL has committed to fund the city’s match of $8 million, so they will receive $32 million in Federal Transportation Funds that are allocated annually to local jurisdictions through ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Very Silly Apology

It didn’t get a lot of attention, as well it should not have, but when I heard Japanese giant Mitsubishi was offered an apology for heinous war crimes that took place during World War II, I thought it was an ill-conceived publicity stunt. But, no, in a solemn ceremony last month hosted by the Museum of Tolerance at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, that is exactly what ... (click for more)