8 Secrets of Cookeville and Putnam County

For the purpose of this blog post, secret is somewhat subjective. All the below places have been visited and documented well before my time. For one reason or another, they all remain less than well known. In the near future, I suspect that this may change. My publication of photos here is not an invitation to trespass either. Get permission before you go onto private property. In the meantime, here are some places that perhaps you didn't know about...

The Canal / Capshaw Woods
Tucked behind some of the nicer homes on Maple Street is a stretch of an unnamed creek that rises from Capshaw Cave (More accurately, Capshaw Spring), travels about 1000 feet, and sinks into Tires to Spare Cave. It's a classic karst window, a window into an old cave system where the ceiling collapsed. The whole of The Canal (as TTU professors, and scientific literature call it) or the Capshaw Woods (as the locals call it) is privately owned, and has a simple trail that runs the edge of the creek that crosses through several backyards. It's a beautiful, and well kept tract of wilderness right in the heart of Cookeville.

Jason Richards, Capshaw resurgence, The Canal, Putnam County, Tennessee 1

The Canal, Putnam County, Tennessee 3

England Cove
A tract of land exists in the head of England Cove both in Putnam and Cumberland Counties. On this parcel are several beautiful streams and waterfalls. Trails cut from the rim down into the cove and are maintained by a private landowner group which owns the property on the plateau above. But don't try to go there unless you've been invited by a landowner, because, as the comments below have made quite clear - you are not welcome.

Detail of Bridge Creek Falls, Putnam Co, TN

Eagles Landing overlook, Putnam County, Tennessee 1

The Capshaw Cave System
I admit it, I made the name up. Formally, there's no such thing as the "Capsaw Cave System." Informally one can (and I do) use it to refer to the dozen or so caves around Cookeville which convey water under the city largely to the ignorance of all.

Some of the caves I would include in this system are Capshaw Cave, Ament Cave, Terry Cave, Capshaw Connection, East Ament, Copeland Cave, Pigeon Roost Spring, Art'Z, Rich Bitch, Nutcracker, Trash Compactor, Tires-to-Spare, Red Kap, and Short Cave, in addition to sinkholes like Warehouse Sink, Ensor Sink, and The Canal.

Capshaw Cave, Cookeville, TN

Ament Cave, Putnam County, Tennessee 1

The Window Cliffs
This is one of those places that most Cookevillians already know about, but outsiders do not. The Window Cliffs are a series of natural arches formed on a knife's edge ridge above Cane Creek. It is also the site of Tennessee's newest state park (which as of the writing of this blog post, has yet to open to the public). I'll post more about the state park soon.

The region of the Window Cliffs has seven waterfalls, and three natural arches. There is a nearby river being pirated through a ridge as well, which is interesting if you geek on hydrology.

Window Cliff Falls, Cane Creek, Putnam County, Tennessee

Window Cliffs, Putnam County, Tennessee 2

The Stone Cove Arches
The Stone Cove Arches are an arch complex found on the outskirts of the county. They may be the most dense cluster of natural arches in the southeast, with a total of 27 arches and windows within a short stretch of cliff line. Unfortunately, it's been discovered by vandals who decided that their spray paint is more impressive than the display of natural wonder. These arches are on private property.

Arches 2, Stone Cove, Putnam Co, TN

Stone Cove Arch, Putnam Co, TN

Secret Cave
Recognizing the importance of this particular cave, Dr. Al Ogden, then a geology professor at Tennessee Tech University, purchased this significant cave with the intention of protecting and preserving it. Using his own money he erected a gate over the pit entrance to this short, but beautiful cave.

Many years later the National Speleological Society (NSS) continued Dr. Ogden's tradition of protection and preservation and purchased the property the cave is on. Secret Cave is open to visitation by skilled cavers and members of the NSS.

Chelsey Poole, Secret Cave, Putnam County, Tennessee 1

Laura Casey, Secret Cave, Putnam County, Tennessee 2

Mill Creek Falls
Off Spring Creek on the boundary of Putnam and Overton County lies a beautiful 50 foot waterfall. The property is now owned by Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation (you know I love them), and there may be plans to turn it into a state natural area in the future. In the meantime, it's private property.

Mill Creek Falls, Spring Creek, Overton County, Tennessee 2

Mill Creek Falls, Spring Creek, Overton County, Tennessee 5

Trog Sink
On the north side of Tennessee Tech there is a large sinkhole right off the side of the road. At a glance, it looks only like a small forest, but once you're inside it's a very different place. Outdoors-folk can look past all the trash and litter that washes in with each rain and see it as a unique wetland and karst landscape. The flat bottomed sinkhole floods frequently creating a temporary lake. The water dye traces down to a nearby spring and feeds into the Blackburn Fork river which eventually flows over Cummins Falls.

Visions of elevated walkways, and interpretive kiosks, along with some fences to help catch trash and litter could go a long way to make this property interesting, and educational. I personally think TTU needs to buy it up and make an agreement with the city. For more info, check out Friends of Trog Sink.

Trog Sink Cleanup, Cookeville, Tennessee 2
Trog Sink flooded, Cookeville, TN

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