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

Tennessee Aquarium Has Underwater Pumpkin Carving On Saturdays

Tennessee Aquarium guests can see underwater pumpkin carving demonstrations each Saturday at 11 a.m. throughout October in the River Journey building. Costumed SCUBA divers will make weekend appearances for the rest of the month.  Lots of costumed divers will be seen during the AquaScarium family Halloween Party at the Aquarium. Pirates, mermaids, and super heroes will be ... (click for more)

Ghostly Gathering At Historic Rugby Set For Oct. 22 And 29

Historic Rugby’s annual “Ghostly Gathering” celebration will take place on Oct. 22 and 29 (Saturdays) this year at 6 p.m. Eastern. The yearly Halloween-season celebration is a favorite among village visitors, who enjoy a homemade chili dinner with dessert at the Historic Rugby Community Building, followed by a ghost movie, then candle and oil lamp tours of several historic ... (click for more)

Domestic Assault Charge Dismissed Against Bobby Stone In Case Involving Mayor's Top Advisor; Stone Says Berke Had Inappropriate Relationship With His Wife; Says Berke And Fletcher Conspired To Arrest Him

A charge of domestic assault was dismissed Friday morning against Bobby Stone in a case involving a top advisor to Mayor Andy Berke.  Afterward, Mr. Stone told reporters that the mayor had an inappropriate relationship with his wife, Lacie Stone. He also charged that Mayor Berke and Police Chief Fred Fletcher conspired to arrest him. Mr. Stone is expected to file ... (click for more)

Christopher Padgett Taken Into Custody

A Chattanooga man who went on the lam after cutting off his ankle monitor and failing to show up for the third day of his felony murder trial is back in custody. Christopher Padgett was arrested by Chattanooga Police in the 3200 block of South Street at 12:55 a.m. He had made a $350,000 bond just before the start of his trial in the slaying of taxi driver Nathan ... (click for more)

Literacy Is Critical

Government spending is often portrayed as a freight train "quickly running out of track." And there is some truth to that statement. There is not an endless supply of money to fund every good idea that comes along, and we must acknowledge that problem. Fiscal responsibility is a must.  That is why spending on priority issues like public education is important. You can spend ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Prayer Over Despair

As a strong proponent of early voting, I joined hundreds at the Hamilton County Election Commission headquarters on Amnicola Highway yesterday to exercise what I consider one of our greatest freedoms – “for the people, by the people.” Candidly, I have never been as upset or as disappointed over my choices for President in my life. Locally I am fine with our candidates but to pick ... (click for more)