I remember playing on the hill side behind my Grandparents home, and finding holes in the gullies that were dug by my father and his bothers, or possibly one of my older cousins. I even dug a few myself, more like ditches covered with boards and dirt for a hid-out.
There is a strange pleasure in getting dirty, and covered with mud, not having to worry about staying clean. A good friend of mine loved to wear white overalls, which of course did not remain white very long in the cave. There is also something about crawling around that seems enjoyable.
Getting to know a cave can be quite a reward. When you are able to find your way, and even share with others about where, and how you got to a special place.
Ask anyone who caves, why they go into caves, and they will struggle to come up with an answer. They may tell you what they do in caves but not why they do it. After years of just visiting known caves, I started searching for more reasons to enter the dark holes in the ground. Mapping sparked my interest. We would talk about mapping and creating computer programs to plot the caves as we rode back and forth to the caves in Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia. I slowly developed a program to plot and draw the cave passages, first on an Apple computer we had at work and then improved it using Visual Basic on my personal computer at home. I even sold copies at caving events, but now I give it away on my web site.
Caves were sometimes used as social gathering places. Big Dan Cave, also called Deaton’s Cave, in Georgia has a long, and shady past. A prehistoric Turtle Sculpted from stone was discover in the 1950’s when someone first attempted to convert the cave into a recreation area. After a few dances they had a shooting and it was closed. The cave property was sold by the Deaton family.
Ray Landrum purchased the cave in 1950 for $500. Landrum constructed a dance hall in the entrance of the cave in the late 1960’s. Bands played on the concrete platform and square dances were held on the floor below. Landrum constructed a building at the cavern entrance out of emptied beer cans. He also constructed a souvenir shop at the cave and a residence above the entrance. A fire burned the entrance down and Mr. Landrum moved away. The spring was also enclosed by Mr. Landrum, and was sold in 1970 for $50,000.
Deaton’s Cave was no doubt used as a shelter by early Indians in the area; the concrete dance floor must cover many treasures from the past. The location of the cave above the Euharlee, (Indian name for “she laughs as she runs”) river provided water and fish. Deaton’s Cave is now also being referred to as Euharlee Creek Cave. Deaton’s cave was one of my first mapping projects when I was learning how to create cave maps.