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's AquaScarium Family Halloween Party To Have Unique Start This Year

Families who arrive early for the Tennessee Aquarium's AquaScarium VII Halloween party will get an extra special treat - the chance to see someone walk a line suspended between the Aquarium's peaks. Local world-class highliner Edward Yates will rig lines of great heights on the Tennessee Aquarium peaks and then walk across them as a unique feature of RiverRocks 2014. ... (click for more)

Governor Bill Haslam Addresses Tourism Industry At Annual Governor's Conference In Knoxville

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam addressed industry professionals during the 2014 Tennessee Governor’s Conference on Hospitality & Tourism on Friday   in his hometown of Knoxville. “You can take pride in the fact that your industry is one of the key contributors to Tennessee’s success,” said Governor Haslam. “For the eighth consecutive year, tourism has generated ... (click for more)

Mayor Berke, Chattanooga Police Department, And Community Members Reach Out To Group Members To End Violence

The city of Chattanooga held a call-in on Thursday night, as part of the Violence Reduction Initiative. Dozens of law enforcement officials, community members, social service providers and clergy gathered to deliver a message to over 20 members of violent groups in Chattanooga. Family members of the probationers watched the call-in from another building. Although the call-in was ... (click for more)

Man Airlifted To Erlanger After Early Morning Crash In Bradley County

Bradley County EMS responded to an early morning crash Thursday at 7 a.m. at the intersection of Lauderdale Memorial Highway and Walker Valley Road in Charleston. Three ambulances and an EMS supervisor responded to the scene. There were three vehicles involved and one car left the roadway.   One adult man suffered serious injuries and it was determined that he needed ... (click for more)

Chairs Cost How Much?

Many times while growing up, I would go to the store with my parents. More often than not, I would see something I wanted, and ask my parents to buy it for me. More often than not, they said no. “Why?” I asked. “Son, money doesn’t grow on trees.” That’s a phrase I’m sure many of us have heard more than once over the course of our lives. However, I have since learned that they were ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Dear Friend Luther

One sunny morning in June years ago, the renowned radio icon Luther Masingill was on his way back to the WDEF studios on South Broad Street when he stopped for a red light and noticed a young couple in a car idling next to his familiar light blue Ford pickup. “What caught my eye was a buck-toothed boy eating a banana in the back seat,” he explained in an aside to that day’s lunchtime ... (click for more)