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Ruby Falls

Ruby Falls in Lookout Mountain

Ruby Falls is a 145-foot high underground waterfall located within Lookout Mountain, near Chattanooga, Tennessee in the United States. It is one Most Incredible Cave Waterfalls on Earth.
Lookout Mountain Ruby Falls
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.
Lookout Mountain Cave Falls
Ruby Falls Cave
Ruby Falls Cave features many of the more well-known types of cave formations (or speleothems) including stalactites and stalagmites, columns, drapery, and flow stone.
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.
Lookout Mountain View Point
Ruby Falls in Lookout Mountain
Chattanooga Lookout Mountain View
Ruby Falls an Underground Waterfalls
In 1905 the natural entrance to Lookout Mountain Cave was closed during the construction of a railway tunnel. In the 1920's a chemist and cave enthusiast named Leo Lambert thought that he could re-open the cave as a tourist attraction, and formed a company to do so. He planned to make an opening further up the mountain than the original opening and transport tourists to the cave via an elevator. For this purpose, his company purchased land on the side of Lookout Mountain above Lookout Mountain Cave and in 1928 began to drill through the limestone. In doing so, they discovered a small passageway about 18 inches high and four feet wide. Exploring this opening, Lambert discovered the formerly hidden Ruby Falls Cave and its waterfall. On his next trip to visit the cave, Lambert took his wife Ruby, and told her that he would name the falls after her.

In 1954, the pathway around the basin was cut in order to allow tourists a better view of the falls. This began the tour-related quip regarding not drinking the falls' water. Though pure and thus safe to drink, it has large concentrations of magnesium from the strata of the mountain, which makes it a natural laxative.


In 1975, the secondary exit from the falls to the base of the mountain was cut. This was to comply with recreation regulations in Tennessee. The secondary exit is used in the event that the main shaft elevator fails.

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