Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


April 5, 2009

THE WILDSIDE: Magical beauty in Cumberland County

My husband asked me, “So how was your field trip this morning?”

As I started to tell him, I realized no one word, no one description could possibly convey the magical beauty of the place I had just visited, right here in Cumberland County.

A few months ago, my friend Jim McCullough asked me if I wanted to do another story about the Cumberland Trail, and March 23 was the day we had selected, convenient for Kenny Matthews, park ranger, and us.

Our drive through the Linary neighborhood off 127 South on Old State 28 led us on a steep switch back road down into the valley below and to a mailbox with Tranquility Lane on it. We turned in there, and crossed over a brook by an old cabin into a pastoral clearing where three modern buildings now stand. We parked and were greeted by three rangers, Anthony Jones who lives there, Kenny Matthews and Herb Roberts.

This new acquisition of the Cumberland Trail has ecological, archeological, geological and historical significance worthy of a National Park. It is here that clear water gushes straight out of a small cave to form the headwaters of the Sequatchie River, the Head of Sequatchie Spring. Research has shown that this water has its origins in Grassy Cove and makes its way under the mountains to this outlet.

As we walked up the meadow, Anthony stopped to show me the ancient gravestone of Craven Sherrill, the first sheriff of Cumberland County, born in 1801. But our real destination lay ahead, Devil’s Step Hollow Cave, a cave that is concealed from the rim. Here the sandstone cap has worn away to reveal a sheer limestone wall and a blue-green pool 150 feet below. The drop-off was too steep for me, but expert hiker Jim McCullough, armed with his camera, made the trip down to the bottom.

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