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

TVRM’s Historic Steam Locomotive #4501 Is Ready For Tennessee Valley Railfest

The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM) on Wednesday announced the return of its iconic Steam Locomotive 4501 to operation. TVRM has been restoring Locomotive 4501 over the past three  years and she will make her public debut at Tennessee Valley Railfest on Sept. 6 and 7.  The locomotive last ran in 1998 and has patiently waited for a complete overhaul.  ... (click for more)

Rock Out Labor Day And Beyond In Tennessee

 If there’s one place travelers can get a music smorgasbord, it’s Tennessee. In each corner of the state and areas in between, music rooted in bluegrass, rock, soul, country, and gospel can be heard from porches in small towns to concert stadiums in burgeoning cities. From the nation’s biggest Labor Day celebration in Knoxville to celebrating local and national talent in Nashville ... (click for more)

Greg Beck Asking County Commission Chairmanship; Others Seeking Post Behind The Scenes

Long time County Commissioner Greg Beck is seeking the chairmanship of the Hamilton County Commission, he said. Several other commissioners are working behind the scenes to try to get the top commission post. The job opened up after the unexpected defeat of Commission Chairman Fred Skillern in the August primary election. Larry Henry, who has held the chairmanship several ... (click for more)

Helen Burns Sharp Asks Recovery Of Legal Fees In Successful Black Creek TIF Lawsuit

Helen Burns Sharp, citizen activist who sued to try to stop a $9 million Black Creek Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and won, is seeking to have her legal expenses paid by the city and the developers. Ms. Sharp said in a court filing that her legal bills to attorney John Konvalinka are $74,427 thus far. Chancellor Frank Brown ruled in favor of Ms. Sharp, saying the Sunshine ... (click for more)

Decimating The Chattanooga Public Library

Corinne Hill claims that the library is just undergoing a normal weeding process for eliminating books.  She has bragged that she's responsible for the elimination of over 100,000 books - with more to go. "Normal" weeding is not rampant throwing away.  Yes, books go to the Friends for their sale - where they get $2 for a $75 book and thousands wind up being recycled ... (click for more)

The Many Lessons I Learned From Helen McDonald Exum

Helen McDonald Exum was my friend and mentor. As I think of her passing I can only imagine the celebration that is happening in heaven as the news of her arrival is being told. I am sure that there is a party that not only has she organized but that there is not a detail that has been left to chance. I am sure that it is the grandest of events, for you see, she has been planing ... (click for more)