Large Cave Discovered Near Cave City - Beautiful Formations Everywhere​

Glasgow Daily Times, July 13, 1960 – By JOEL WILSON and LEONARD KELSAY

Leon “Bottle” Turner, for over 30 years a spelunker around Caveland, U.S.A., has found a new, beautiful cavern just a short distance from heavily-traveled U,S, 31-W near Cave City.

“I dig for “sites” and “mites” around here and was up on Pruitt’s Knob looking for some pretty rocks and decided to try a big sinkhole for some,” he explained.

“We dug down for a while (four or five feet) and knew we had found a big hole. We dynamited a big rock hiding our view to the cavern and there she was,” he said.

She, as he calls this wonder, is seen by descending 80 feet down eight ladders tied together with rope. After starting down “Bottle” says to not “freeze” on the ladder or that there’ll be troubles. He claims some of the uninitiated petrify on ladders going down from a high point and they almost have to be knocked senseless to regain muscular control.

Well, we didn’t freeze but oftentimes would have felt better by being either at the top or bottom, preferably the top.

All of this was exciting, to say the least. But the best was yet to come because these writers, not even rating as amateur spelunkers before the start, came away convinced that this cave should be seen by millions as others in this area have been.

The cave has three parts, known now, after only four trips to its beautiful setting. 

To reach the absolute bottom and the most beautiful sight, you go completely down the 80-foot ladder and look up.  This huge cavern is a cistern-like hole about 100 feet in diameter and about 120 feet deep.

To reach the lower level of the cave and see yet more beautiful scenery we had to descend as far as the ladders went. After a bit more wandering we were shown a fantastically high dome which was at least 100 feet high.

Although a standard flashlight threw no more than a dim flicker on the ceiling of the dome, a beautiful crystal-like ceiling was visible.

Reaching another room through a tiny crevice, a huge waterfall-like formation was seen which matched many of the other wonders in the cave. Although the room was not accessible since it had no visible floor, by leaning over a huge rock even more mites and tites could be seen.

To see the horizontal portion of the cave, you change from the descent ladder at about 60 feet, stepping about a yard off to another ladder that goes up about 20 feet and you are on the level.  Here’s where spelunking begins to be more interesting and less frightening.

The passageways are high enough to permit walking erect most of the time, but you must keep track of hanging stalactites, lest you knock one off or yourself out.

The shortest route is about a fourth of a mile long, Many obstacles to overcome – small passageways, knee-deep crystal clear water – during the trip made an accurate time – distance estimate difficult.

Five of us, Leslie Lewis, who found the cave with Turner, and Houston Rigdon, along to see the sight, too, were in the dark depths for about three hours.

The descent lasted 30 or 40 minutes and the ascent a little longer. Going down and up the ladders you have a strong rope around your chest, in case a step should be missed or the ropes holding the ladders together should break. The rope is controlled by looping over a log at the top. 

The formations are intricate workings of nature. Everywhere you see ‘mites’ and ‘tites’ and cases where they have come together forming columns. Some have hairlike surfaces, others like the cones on pine trees. Water drips from many of the formations and in these centers where the water comes through they look like diamonds placed in the end when a light is thrown on them. At one place the roots of a tree are petrified. 

The longest route, estimated between a fourth and a half mile, is the easiest to travelers and has the most abundant color and beauty. 

“Turner is continuing exploration of his discovery and reports he has found an open that apparently leads into another large cavern area. He has not had time yet to enlarge the opening to go through into the new area but plans to do so soon. Meantime, since our first trip down, he has greatly improved the ladder installation and made access much less difficult.


C. J. 3-21-65

With the Spelunkers

LAST WEEK I mentioned Crystal Onyx, a new cave south of Cave City that should be open for tours by early June.  According to Henry L. Hardin of Smithfield, chairman of the Central Kentucky Chapter of the National Speleological Society (cave explorers to us common folks), and represents an important find.

Inside have been found the remains of Indians who were trapped in the cave more than 4,000 years ago when an earthquake caused a landslide which sealed the entrance.

The cave was discovered by C. O. Turner, who noticed a small crack in the rock covering. After dropping pebbles through the crack and heading them hit many feet below, he blasted apart the rock and was lowered by rope to the bottom of an 89 foot deep pit. Later spelunkers came into the picture and fully explored a cave in which white men are believed never to have set foot.


Latest Cave Find, Crystal Onyx, Being Developed For Early Summer Opening.

Discovery Lies Under Prewitt’s Knob. C’City

Hart County – 4/8/65

Extensive work is being done a mile and a half south of Cave City to develop a new cave find, the Crystal Onyx Cave, whose formation-laden avenues are said to branch off a sheer drop underneath the side of historic Prewitt’s Knob.

Cleon Turner, well known Park City-Cave City cave explorer and cavern enthusiast, is being assisted in the development by two Horse Cave businessmen, Att’y Robert Schneider and Ernest McCubbin.

A road-bed has been carved through the wooded hillside to the east side of the knob, which is scheduled for surfacing when weather permits. Later this is expected to tie into improved Highway 90 as it bends northward to the new I-65 interchange just southwest of Cave City.

A stock company, the Crystal Onyx Cave Corp. has been formed  to develop the attraction.

Plans are being completed for building to accommodate the cave surface operations. Meanwhile, detailed exploration is in progress on the parts of the cavern marked for public exhibition. The electric wiring project is expected to get underway this spring.

Tentative plans call for opening the attraction in Kentucky’s famous Cave Country early this summer according to Attorney Schneider.

A portion of the descent to enter the deep cave. The section of ladders at the top of the picture spans about 45 feet, and the bottom section, only a portion of which is shown , is approximately 40 feet long.