About Ruby Falls

Ruby Falls is a 145 foot high underground waterfall inside Lookout Mountain. The Ruby Falls Cave which leads to the falls contains many cave formations such as stalactites, stalagmites, columns, drapery, and flowstone.

The falls were discovered in the late 1920s when Leo Lambert decided to open the Lookout Mountain Cave as a tourist attraction. He and his team were drilling a cave entrance higher than the natural entrance to Lookout Mountain Cave and his intent was send touring spelunkers down to the cave via elevator. While drilling, they discovered a cave known now as Ruby Falls Cave which had no natural opening to the outside. Exploring this 18″ x 4′ opening led Leo Lambert to the great underground waterfall.

Today, the Ruby Falls Cave and the underground waterfall are open to the public year round for exploration and enjoyment. A tour guide leads you through the cave pointing out unique formations and natural curiosities. Once you hike to the waterfall room, installed lights are dimmed and you stand in darkness for a moment just listening to the sound of rushing water crash into an underground pool. Atmospheric music is turned on and as it climaxes, lights are turned on to reveal the waterfall.  Source by Travelling Two Some

 

Geology

The cave which houses Ruby Falls was formed with the formation of Lookout Mountain. About 200 to 240 million years ago (in the Carboniferous period, at the end of the Paleozoic era) the eastern Tennessee area was covered with a shallow sea, the sediments of which eventually formed limestone rock. About 200 million years ago, this area was uplifted and subsequent erosion has created the current topography. The limestone in which the cave is formed is still relatively horizontal, just as it was deposited when it was below sea level. The Lookout Mountain Caverns, which includes Ruby Falls Cave, is a limestone cave. These caves occur when slightly acidic groundwater enters subterranean streams and eats away at the relatively soluble limestone, causing narrow cracks to widen into passages and caves in a process called chemical weathering. The stream which makes up the Falls entered the cave sometime after its formation.

Ruby Falls Cave features many of the more well-known types of cave formations (or speleothems) including stalactites and stalagmites, columns, drapery, and flowstone.

The Falls are located at the end of the main passage of Ruby Falls Cave, in a large vertical shaft. The stream, 1120 feet underground, is fed both by rainwater and natural springs. It collects in a pool in the cave floor and then continues through the mountain until finally joining the Tennessee River at the base of Lookout Mountain.

While Ruby Falls Cave combines with Lookout Mountain Cave to form the Lookout Mountain Caverns, the two caves were not actually connected by any passage. Ruby Falls Cave is the upper of the two and contains a variety of geological formations and curiosities which Lookout Mountain Cave does not have. Source by Wikipedia

 

Tourism and Advertising

Lambert decided to open both caves to the public, although Lookout Mountain Cave was closed in 1935 since it was not very popular with tourists, who were much more impressed with the upper cave. Public tours began in 1930. Electric lights were installed in the cave, making it one of the first commercial caves to be so outfitted. Motorists travelling on I-75 in the 1970s were subjected to dozens – maybe hundreds – of billboards along their route with the words “SEE RUBY FALLS” beginning hundreds of miles north and south of the falls itself. Ruby Falls remains a staple of Chattanooga tourism, operating daily. Ruby Falls is owned by the Steiner family of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Ruby Falls and the larger Lookout Mountain Caverns complex have been designated a National Historic Landmark. It is often associated with the nearby Rock City attraction, which lies atop Lookout Mountain. Source by Wikipedia