Spectacular Formations
A wide variety of beautiful
natural formations can be
seen at Florida Caverns.
Draperies of Stone Bacon?
These wall formations, called
draperies, or made of stone
but bear an uncanny
resemblance to bacon.
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Florida Caverns State Park
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Florida Caverns State Park
The Tour Cave at Florida Caverns State Park
Florida Caverns State Park
This formation is often called the "Wedding Cake"
and is one of many that can be seen on the tour.
Visiting Underground Marianna
Thousands of visitors through the years have
experienced the main Tour Cave at Florida
Caverns State Park. The tours are given
several times throughout the day and often
sell out.

When Dr. J.C. Patterson of nearby Malone
first conceived the idea of a state park here
during the early 1930s, these caves were
unknown. Patterson purchased the original
494 acres for the park in 1935 and worked
with Tom Yancy of the Marianna Chamber of
Commerce in a successful drive to have the
property declared Florida's seventh state

Dr. Patterson had visited Luray Caverns in
Virginia and dreamed that perhaps one of the
known caves around the Natural Bridge of
Florida could be developed into a similar
attraction, bringing a much needed boost to
an area then suffering through the darkest
days of the Great Depression.

The Tour Cave, discovered by Civilian
Conservation Corps (CCC) workers during
the development of the park, is a perpetual
monument to Dr. Patterson's dream.

As the story goes, a tree blew over in the new
park and workers were astounded to find a
massive unknown cavern beneath its over-
turned roots. Exploration revealed the
spectacular network of caves now open for
public tours.

Development of the cave was begun in 1938
by the men of CCC Camp SP-12, which
stood on park property. Over the next four
years, these men built visitor paths through
the caves, installed electric lighting and even
cut passages through solid rock to connect
various parts of the cave.

Three different companies worked to built the
park and develop the tour cave. One was
composed of World War I veterans, another
was filled with "junior" members and a third
was an African American company. The work
they accomplished at Florida Caverns State
Park is among the finest on record for the
History in the Making
The tour cave is a living cave
and its formations are slowly
growing. Dripping water
carries with it the minerals
needed for these formations
to develop.
The work of the "gopher gang," as they called
themselves, has become the subject of
folklore in the Marianna area as members of
the CCC passed along tales of their efforts to
their family members and friends.

Exhibits at the visitor center tell the story of
the opening of the caves and allow modern
visitors to see photographs and learn more
about the men who first crawled their way
into the Florida Caverns.

The tour cave today is popular with visitors of
all ages. Park rangers provide guided tours
that are rich in information on both the natural
and cultural history of the park. The tours
include information on the work that helped
make the caves accessible to the public and
guides usually point out the spot where CCC
workers first entered the magnificent cavern.
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
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