Drum Roll – Some More Caves in the Barrens

From pages 80-81 KY Explorer magazine – May 1995.
The following is a rough list, taken from even older manuscripts.

1- A series of caves on a branch of Skaggs Creek (Hacker’s Branch) about a mile north of Freedom Post Office – fragmentary skeletons, reported by John Nelson. These include Potato Cave.

2- A large cave about a half mile north of the Monroe County line known as “Cow Cave,” so named on the Geological Survey map of Barren Co. Many artifacts have been found here. Located by WC Eyl, described by John Nelson.

3- The Smith’s Cave on Peter Creek about a mile north of Dry Fork PO on the farm of JD Smith. This is apparently the site reported by Fowke as “Esmith Cave.” Mr. Smith found 6 skeletons buried at the entrance.
AN: I believe this is the “Hanted Cave” mentioned in a previous post.

4- A cave just east of Jackson Hwy 5 miles north of Glasgow which yielded burials and many artifacts. Reported by Mrs. LP Redford and John Nelson.

5- 2 large mounds on the east bank of Barren River, 2 miles west of Lucas. Taken by US Army Corp of Engineers. (Probably the Jewell site).

6- A series of small mounds about a half mile north of #5 on another bend of Barren River. The owners of property prefer that these mounds remain undisturbed and nothing is known of their contents. Reported by John Nelson. (Should be the mounds at the Beaver Creek Boat Ramp area).

7- A cave just north of Beaver Creek, about 2 miles east of Oil City in which was found a small pottery vessel and a cache of arrowheads. Reported by John Nelson.

8- A series of caves known as “Saltpetre Caves,” so indicated on recent maps, on the north side of Skaggs Creek one mile southwest of Temple Hill. These caves contained many burials in ash beds, and many artifacts. The caves are well known to residents of the vicinity and have been reported to us by many correspondents. “Payne Cave” described by Fowke, seems to be Saltpetre Cave.

9- A cave one mile west of #8 which shows undoubted evidence of ancient occupation. Reported by John Nelson.

10- A rock shelter on the east bank of Barren River, 2 miles east of Austin. Flint artifacts. Reported by John Nelson.

11- DeWeese Cave, one mile north of Slick Rock. This was the site which was reported by Fowke as the “Slick Rock Cave.”

12- The remains of an ancient earthworks which may represent a fortification on Dry Fork of Peter Creek near the mouth of Indian Camp Branch, which was actually named for the fortification and camp ground.

13- A cave, 2 miles west of DeWeese Cave, is locally known as “Bone Cave” from local tradition that in early pioneer days skeletons were found in it. In reality, this cave is actually a deep sink. Fowke says of this site: “If human bones were ever found in here, either they were thrown in or some person fell in and was unable to escape.” This site has been recently located and examined by WC Eyl.

14- A cave locally known as “Ford’s Cave” between Freedom and Mt. Hermon about 14 miles southeast of Glasgow. This is a fine large cave with an excellent spring at the entrance. There are many indications the earth has been worked for saltpetre. Fowke states regarding this cave: “This would have been an excellent site for aboriginal residence, but there is now no undisturbed earth within daylight nor for some distance beyond, and no one can remember any artifact ever exhumed.”

15- A cave on the Love Farm, 3 miles north of Slick Rock, may represent a prehistoric site. AN: On Love Knob Road, near Echo.

In addition to the foregoing sites which have been definitely located, many others have been reported which could not be positively recorded. Collins in his history of KY mentions a mound at the mouth of Peter Creek (#5 or #6) on Big Barren River and another 5 miles southwest of Glasgow on Skaggs Creek which we have been unable to locate.

AN: The mound on Skaggs Creek can either be the one out near Buffalo Ford, or the one at the Beaver Creek Boat Ramp. The Beaver Mound subdivision is named for this mound near the boat ramp. I’ve never actually seen either one, but I know they are there.
This concludes what I have on area caves. Hopefully some of you will have better ideas where some of these are. I have not heard of a couple of them, but know of others not mentioned here. I will try to compile a list of those sometime in the future.

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About Gclee

I am a long time genealogy and local history hunter from Barren Co., KY. I have many stories to share that may be of interest to other local genealogists and history buffs. I enjoy this as a hobby and hope I can be of encouragement to others. I also hope everyone enjoys my stories as much as I have enjoyed learning about them.
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3 Responses to Drum Roll – Some More Caves in the Barrens

  1. macman1138 says:

    I have been in and out of Saltpeter cave all my life. It’s a wonderful place but a lot of the wrong kind of people are attracted to it, causing a lot of headaches for the owner. I have been in Potato cave quite a bit too.
    I also went in Cow cave a couple of times, nothing so great about it though.

    • Gclee says:

      Where exactly is Cow Cave located? I’m not sure if I have ever been there. I’ve been to several, but some of them were never identified with names for me.

  2. macman1138 says:

    I have been through Ford’s cave many times too. It is a beautiful place to enjoy nature and just read a book.
    Saltpeter Cave is the best local cave in my opinion.

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