A Walk in the Woods
What does the Roy Acuff Radio Show, a massive cave in Clarksville TN and a once thriving resort have in common?
Dunbar Cave and surrounding land, used by the American Indians, was settled in 1784 by the Thomas Dunbar family. In 1973 Tennessee purchased the property and designated it as a state natural area. What happened in between these dates is the history of Dunbar Cave.
Standing in the coolness of the cave entrance we could just imagine dances and radio shows once held here. Children swimming in the lake and adults visiting and enjoying a summer evening at Dunbar Cave. There are only memories left of these times and the cave is only open for scheduled tours. What is left to enjoy are the trails around the park, a short or long loop which interconnect with each other.
Since the entrance area of the cave is a constant 58 degrees, the area was very popular during the first half of the 20th century. The first resort was build after the Civil War and activities continued until the introduction of home air conditioning. In the 1930s the cave entrance was popular for both square dances and big band era dances. In 1948 Roy Acuff bought the property and broadcast his Saturday radio show and dance from the cave entrance. The pictures lining the walls of the visitor center show happy times through many years.
A lake borders the cave with a trail surrounding it. Although the lake was drained we could just imagine children playing in the water while their parents enjoy the coolness of the cave entrance. The trail continues from the lake into the hills and is a peaceful walk while enjoying nature.
Although the day was hot, once on the trail the coolness settled in. We decided to hike the short loop taking our time to enjoy everything along the trail. As we walked we encountered other walkers some alone, some with children and other with dogs. Like us, they were there to enjoy both the history of the area and what nature offers for a very interesting state natural area.