DeSoto Caverns

Adventure through Alabama’s Bicentennial from the Underground

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Why not celebrate our state’s 200th anniversary by exploring America’s most historic cave? Transport yourself through one of the rare sites where you are submerged in the roots of Alabama history. Immerse yourself in the sounds, sights and wonders that previous generations have cherished as a shelter, a source of adventure, or as an extraordinary exploration of nature. Whether you are excited about visiting Alabama's Passport Site List, passionate about cultural locations, or interested in historical sites, DeSoto Caverns offers a unique perspective on our state’s history. Although DeSoto Caverns’ history predates both Alabama’s statehood and America’s independence from England, the Caverns has also played a consistent role throughout significant events of the state of Alabama’s history.

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During the Civil War, DeSoto Caverns became a unique location for manufacturing gunpowder. The privacy of the Caverns, as well as the nitrate-rich supply of bat guano and the spring-fed well in the back of the caverns, made an excellent location for creating the gunpowder. During a tour within DeSoto Caverns guests can still see the original well dug by the Confederate soldiers and learn about how the soldiers produced gunpowder within the beautiful cathedral room.

History.com includes DeSoto Caverns in the top interesting facts regarding Alabama’s history. “The DeSoto Caverns near the city of Birmingham, which contain a 2,000-year-old Native American burial site, served as a clandestine speakeasy with dancing and gambling during Prohibition.” Back in the 1920’s DeSoto Caverns was transformed into the “Cavern Tavern.”  This honky-tonk soon gained a negative reputation as an out of control speakeasy and earned the new name “the bloody bucket.” Learn more about DeSoto Caverns’ colorful history during your historical tour at DeSoto Caverns.

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Alabama’s state history includes many dynamic individuals, including our very own Women’s Hall of Famer, Ida Mathis. Ida Mathis purchased the caverns in 1920 and the caverns are still run by her family today. In her installation into Alabama’s Women’s Hall of fame, it was said that she “saved Alabama” and was “the greatest woman farmer in the United States.” She was heralded as the “Economic Moses of the South” and in the 1917 issue of American Magazine she was declared as being “worth $20,000,000 to the state of Alabama.”  She educated "Cotton State" farmers who were suffering from the depletion of nutrients in their soil and were no longer yielding healthy crops. She was able to transition Alabama from being a one crop state to utilizing the scientific method of crop rotation. She was also the first woman ever selected to head a state organization of farmers. “John Skelton Williams, Comptroller of the Currency, Washington, D.C. told her that with her credit system she had done more toward winning the War than any other person in the United States.” We are certainly proud to have this incredible woman’s legacy as a piece of the DeSoto Caverns’ history.

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One piece of Alabama history many people do not know about is the Alabama gold rush. It was overshadowed by the California gold rush but had a significant boom within the goldmines of Goldville, Alabama where it is estimated that over $50 million dollars worth of gold was found during the 1820’s 30’s and 40’s. DeSoto Caverns re-lives this unique piece of Alabama history through their panning for gemstones attraction, which includes pyrite as a reminder of this shiny historic moment.

As a part of your journey to embark on an Alabama exploration, don’t miss visiting DeSoto Caverns for a unique perspective on Alabama’s rich history. Step into an adventure that tells a story and shares the heart of a great state. If you own a bicentennial passport, don’t miss getting your passport stamped at DeSoto Caverns today!