Lost River Cave photo of river rushing to cave system by the Rose vine Cottage Girls dot com

Lost River Cave

Mr. Cottage and I were on a trip up to Kentucky up in Barren County and had a few hours to of free time so we decided to visit Lost River Cave.  After a quick stop at the store for a pair of tennis shoes (I left the house wearing flip flops. Not the best walking shoes I know, but in my defense I hadn’t planned on going to this cave). But I have to say it was beautiful! Even if it had rained entire week before so it was kind of muddy. 

Lost River Cave


The water going into the cave system was so beautiful and blue. I was quite impressed on the peace of the area as we approached the cave system. It is not that far of a walk to get to the cave entrance.  I would think it is about 130 feet or so. I appreciated the tennis shoes I will say. 
The river was once listed on Ripley’s Believe It Or Not as the shortest and deepest river in the world featuring a blue hole that was once thought over 437 feet deep and the river is about 400 feet long but since they have found that the blue hole connects to another yet deeper underground river.
The water was stunning, the forest beautiful and the underground boat ride was really neat. Even if I was a little scared of falling off the boat and into the water after the stories that the guide told.
I had never been in a cave before so I was amazed by it all and just how fast the current was flowing. As our tour guide said to keep all purses, phones, cameras inside the boat. There will be no retrieving them if you drop them.  That is definitely the truth.  If you drop it, it is gone!
I would say that if you dislike small spaces I would not recommend going on the boat ride, especially if it has rained a lot. In a couple places, we could touch the ceiling of the cave. 
Photo of Ammunition building from the Civil War at Lost River Cave in Kentucky
After the cave tour, we walked a couple of the trails and visited the butterfly habitat. We had such a great time!  The Lost River Cave park has 2 1/2 miles of walking trails to enjoy.
We found this building that was used during the US Civil War to store ammunition.

The Lost River Cave Wildlife


The Lost River Cave trails are a great way to check out the local wildlife.  The woods here are home to beautiful birds and butterflies and so much more. Take your time and enjoy the afternoon.  


Photo of a concrete historical marker that told of the United States Civil war history of Lost River Cave


Lost River Cave In History


By around 8500 BC the local Native Americans were living here using the Lost River Cave system as shelter for their families, for water and burying their dead in the cave system located 60 feet below what  is now highway 31 in Bowling Green.  In the 1700’s the Lost River Cave was used as a saw mill, grist mill and distillery at the opening of the cave. 


Although Kentucky was technically neutral during the US civil war, by September of the year 1861 both Union and Confederate troops marched in to Kentucky.  General Bolivar Buckner led his troops here Sept 18th into Bowling Green and this was a great location for them.
It is located close to the Barren River and found them close to the railroad for Nashville and Louisville, KY.   The Lost River Cave was used as a shelter for them and a training facility the soldiers scratching their names and rate and unit names in the walls. 
October of that year saw 12,000 Confederate troops to be located in Bowling Green before a series of Union victories finally saw the Confederate troops pushed from the region by February and it stayed under Union Control for the remainder of the war.
US Union troops camped here at Lost River Cave before marching on to Nashville for what would be the Battle Of Stones River December 31, 1862 to January 3, 1863 which found a narrow victory for the Union troops and gave control of central Tennessee to the Union.
Photo of the trail with green plants and trees coming up around rough sawn wooden fence with green puffs of moss growing on the fence by rose vine cottage girls dot com


It is amazing to think of so much history passing through this land. The lives lived here and those that went on to battles they would not return from as you walk along these beautiful pathways.   The Stones River Battle saw 24,645 casualties.


Photo of a picture of the trail to the Lost River Cave system in Bowling Green Kentucky. It is a meandering trail with green wild plants to the right and left of the trail and large hardwood trees. by rose vine cottage girls dot com


Waterfalls At Lost River Cave


There are waterfalls on the property along the trail for you to enjoy the peaceful sound of water rippling over the stones.  It would be a nice place to have a picnic lunch. 
Lost River Cave Waterfall - water rolling over the stones as it makes its way to Lost River Cave by rose vine cottage girls dot com

Jesse James At The Lost River Cave

On March 20, 1866 after robbing the Southern Deposit Bank of Russellville, Kentucky and shooting and injuring the bank’s president Jesse James was said to escape to the Lost River Cave and hide there while the hunt was on for the outlaws. 
It is said a local doctor was brought to the cave to treat an injured man rumored to be one of James’ men.
Illustration of the Jesse James gang robbing the Russelville KY bank
photo of historic marker about the outlaw Jesse James gang hiding out at the Lost River Cave to escape the law after robbing the Russellville, Kentucky bank in 1868 and a physician being taken to the cave to treat a sick or injured man by Jesse James.
Historic marker from Lost River Cave rose vine cottage girls dot com

The Lost River Cave – Jazz Nightclub

Photo of a chandelier hanging in the ballroom of the lost river cave in Kentucky by rose vine cottage girls dot com
Chandelier hanging in the old ballroom of the Lost River Cave
Later in 1933, they turned the entrance of the cave into a night club. People from all over flocked to the “Cavern Nite Club”. 
Dinah Shore, Francis Craig, and his NBC Orchestra sang here along with some of the biggest names in big band. 
Don’t know who they are? Click the name and listen.
In the early 1960’s the clubs era came to and end with the building of I-65 rerouting traffic away and the passing of laws stating that alcohol could not be served below street level.  
The ballroom can still be rented for events today.

Lost River Cave – Rock Formations


There are lots of rock formations in the miles of cave systems.  This is one rock formation that is called the sheepfold.  Can you see the sheep?

Photo of the rock formation "the sheepfold" at the Lost River Cave. by rose vine cottage girls dot com
Rock Formation in the Lost River Cave called “The Sheepfold”

If you go to the cave take a sweater or light jacket because the cave stays a constant cool 57 degrees so just to be safe.


Lost River Cave and valley are a 68-acre nature preserve located in Bowling Green Kentucky. It hosts Kentucky’s only underground boat tour, walking trails, and wildlife habitats.   For more information on the Lost River Cave and how to get here check out their website.

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