Divers have tried to find the end of the lake, but their attempts failed.
America’s “Lost Sea” can be found deep beneath an unassuming corner of Tennessee: the largest non-subglacial underground lake in the US, and perhaps the second largest in the world. This massive body of underground water is found in the Craighead Caverns and is so vast that no one knows how big it is.
It is situated between Sweetwater and Madisonville in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains. The cavern is noted for its array of crystals, stalagmites, and stalactites that embellish its limestone walls, in addition to retaining a large volume of water.
The cave system has a lengthy history and is designated by the National Park Service as a National Natural Landmark.
There is evidence that the cave was formerly stalked by fearsome (albeit long-lost) enormous Pleistocene jaguars long before humans arrived. It was later utilised as a refuge by the Cherokee, as evidenced by the numerous Native American artefacts recovered here, including pottery, arrowheads, weapons, and jewellery.
Early European colonists kept potatoes here in later ages. Confederate soldiers then mined the cave for saltpetre to produce gunpowder. During the Prohibition Era, moonshiners are alleged to have secreted their illegal hooch supplies in the cave.
The “lost lake,” on the other hand, was discovered in 1905 when a child stumbled into it while playing in the cave.
“Ben Sands discovered the water,” tour guide Savannah Dalton told CBS News in 2019. “A 13-year-old boy went down a tunnel the size of a bicycle tyre for 40 feet before dropping down into the lake and wading out into knee-deep water. When he came through, it was much smaller. But we’ve since blasted it out.”
Nobody knows just how big this beast is. The lake’s visible half is 243 metres (800 feet) long and 67 metres (220 feet) wide, but beneath the surface, it connects into additional massive corridors filled with water, many of which have yet to be investigated.
Over 13 acres (5.2 hectares) of water have been mapped so far, but researchers have yet to reach the lake’s edge. One diver armed with a sonar gadget swam through the lake’s pitch black waters tunnels and was forced to turn back because they could detect nothing but water all around them.
So, while the Lost Sea is reported to be the world’s second largest non-subglacial underground lake, beaten only by Namibia’s Dragon’s Breath Cave, who knows if this mystery cavern is the genuine record holder?
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