5) The Lost Sea – Sweetwater
Craighead Caverns rest under the mountains between Sweetwater and Madisonville, Tennessee. It’s an extensive cave system that has been host to everything from food storage, a saltpeter mine during The Civil War, a moonshiner hideout, cockfights and a mushroom farm. There was even a nightclub called The Tavern Cavern during the 1940’s. There is archaeological evidence of extensive use by the Cherokees, and the bones of a Pleistocene era jaguar found in the caverns are on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Craighead Caverns’ biggest claim to fame though is The Lost Sea. The Lost Sea is the largest underground, non-glacial lake in North America and second largest in the world. Several nature hikes and tours, both above and below ground, are available to visitors for a reasonable price. This is a unique area with interesting wildlife and amazing crystal clusters. The Lost Sea was declared a National Natural Landmark in 1974, and is a part of the National Cave Association. Preservation is the main goal of the Lost Sea’s stewards, which is something that visitors can also lend a hand with.