The Lost Sea of Tennessee
The Lost Sea of Tennessee is the largest underground lake in the world. In fact, its entirety is still unknown it is so large. The lake has been explored as much as safely possibly, however, its recorded visible measurements are 800 feet long by 220 feet wide. Evidence shows that the Lost Sea was discovered by the Cherokee originally, however, the first documented discovery was by white settlers in 1820. The lake, as well as the cave, is estimated to have been formed some 20,000 years ago. The Lost Sea is registered in the National Landmark for Tennessee and is also a member of the National Cave Association.
Backstory and Context
Inside a mountain in Sweetwater, Tennessee is the largest underground lake in America according to the Guinness Book of World Records. This lake is known as the Lost Sea. The Lost Sea is part of a very old and very large system of caves called Craighead Caverns. There is a natural opening on the side of the mountain that was discovered first by the Cherokee Indians.
There is many forms of evidence the Cherokee left behind. About a mile from the entrance is the large Council Room. Many Cherokee Indian artifacts have been found here. Items such as pottery, arrowheads, weapons, and jewelry were left behind providing proof that they used the Council Room often. Some bones have even been found in the cave and are on display in the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
The Cave was also used during the Civil War by the Confederate Army. The Confederates mined the cave for saltpeter to make their gunpowder. There is a carbon-tested, authentic date written on the cave wall that reads 1863. This was most likely burned on that wall by a Confederate soldier’s torch.
Tours of the cave can be taken any day except Christmas Day. There are so many different pieces of Craighead Cavern history that can be learned while hiking through the rooms that is interesting for all age groups. There the beautiful underground lake to see and take a boat ride on. There are also many crystalline structures and other formations worth viewing. Because of the many things to see at Craighead Caverns, the United States Department of the Interior honored the caves and lake by designating the Lost Sea as a Registered National Landmark.