[an error occurred while processing this directive]

October 2002

Delve deeper into hot topics featured in NGM’s October Geographica and Who Knew? with help from Resources. Click on a link, pick up a periodical, browse through a book, and explore!
The Book Guy
Grey TabMore Book Guy
GeographicaWho Knew?
Maya HistoryHole in the GroundSnaring DolphinsFood for the RoadFamily TreeDark Victory

The Ultimate Hole in the Ground

Imagine sliding straight down a rope through a hole in the Earth that descends 586 feet (179 meters)—that’s 31 feet (nine meters) farther than the height of the Washington Monument. You’re sprayed by a waterfall on the way down, a gut-churning ten-minute trip.

It’s big, and it’s beautiful, and it’s a wonderful rappel,” says Diane Cousineau, a Walker County cave rescuer. Fantastic Pit, part of Ellison’s Cave System in northwestern Georgia and the deepest free-fall cave pit in the contiguous United States, was discovered and named by cavers in 1968. A steady stream of adventurers has followed.

But a mining operation has cavers and residents concerned. Last spring, about two miles (three kilometers) from Ellison’s, a new cave called Flowing Stone was discovered.

It boasts its own 224-foot-deep (68-meter-deep) pit and unusual cave-pearl formations. A company quarrying limestone in the area wants to expand its surface mineral lease to include Flowing Stone. “The quarrying could completely destroy the cave, and blasting would cause hiking trails to be closed,” says Cousineau. “Although Ellison’s isn’t in danger of being quarried right now, additional blasting could cause portions of the cave to collapse.”

— John L. Eliot

Web Links

Friends of Pigeon Mountain
Visit this website to learn more about the threats to Pigeon Mountain, Ellison’s Cave, and Flowing Stone Cave, and find out what you can do to help.

Crockford Pigeon Mountain Wildlife Management Area—Armuchee, Georgia
An overview of the area, including its resources and amenities, is given at this website.

Free World Map

“Our Opinion: Failure to Protect Caves a Sign of Trouble at DNR,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 14, 2001.

Seabrook, Charles. “Mining Site Planned in Georgia Preserve,Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 12, 2001.

© 2002 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy       Advertising Opportunities       Masthead

National Geographic Magazine Home Contact Us Forums Shop Subscribe