The Green Valley Cave and old Charlie Cline

By Danny By Danny "The Vagabond" Crownover

Last week, an article was written in this space about a cave and silver mine located in the Country Club Hills area in Gadsden. The Vagabond recently got to thinking about the nearby Green Valley Cave. Also known as Indian Springs Cave, the cave is part of several caves found along the mountains running pa-rallel to the Etowah/Calhoun County line from Alabama Hwy. 77 to U.S. Hwy. 278.

One nearby cave was known for a pit that dropped several hundred feet straight down. The cave’s entrance is found under a tree and has to be crawled in. When the cave’s discoverer came out of the entrance for the first time, he found a bat in his pocket. Not having a ready name for the cave, the caver appropriately named it Bat-in-a-Pocket Cave.

Around 1978, The Vagabond and his friend Ray Brooks often visited Indian Springs Cave. The trip started off by parking at the foot of the mountain on Robert Lasseter’s farm. Robert had a caretaker named Charlie Cline who lived in an old wood frame house with a large fireplace, a bed, a couple chairs, and little else.  Part of the trip into the cave always included a visit with old Charlie.

Charlie was a rugged sort of a fellow who was half-shaven and rough looking. Born around 1900, he wore an old felt cowboy hat and carried a hickory walking stick. Charlie was a trapper at that time, and what little money he made came from selling skins. The Va-gabond remembers seeing many beautiful snake, coons and red fox skins all laid out flat on a board to cure. All the skins were trapped near the cave.

Charlie was a loner and lived a life of people from a century ago. In the 1940 U.S. Census records, Charlie is shown making his living as a dairy farmer.

Charlie’s entertainment consisted of a harmonica and a guitar, and he played many beautiful songs. It’s too bad no one ever recorded Charlie playing his instruments. Charlie passed away just a few years ago, and all that’s left of him are the memories.

Prior to entering Indian Springs Cave, a walk across a pasture and hunting for arrowheads would be made, followed by a hike up to the top of the mountain. The Vagabond especially remembers taking the trip one snowy day. It was a beautiful scene, but very cold!

Coats were removed upon entering the cave, as the temperature would be fairly warm at a constant year-round temperature of 58 degrees.

The cave’s entrance on top of the mountain had been dynamited and enlarged back in the late 1950s or early 1960s. There were plans to build ramps, bridges, etc., and charge tourists to enter the cave, but this project was never realized. When The Vagabond visited the cave back in the late 1970s, a few rotted framing materials remained near the entrance.

Going on through the cave, one either had to tightly crawl through the bottom of a long crevasse or slide dangerously across it at the top. At the other end was a pit, which one had to crawl down a flowstone to reach what many called “the lake.” This body of water was fed by a large spring that poured out the side of a wall. This large room had several species of animal life. There were white (because of lack of sun) and blind cave fish, salamanders and crickets.

For many years, a rubber raft was located on the other side of the “lake,” and many people wondered how it got there. Ray’s brother, David Brooks, had a friend that tried to get across to the other side but hit a stalactite and almost didn’t make it out.

The Green Valley Cave supposedly has an exit near the bottom of the mountain, and some folks claim to have gone through it.

The Vagabond recalls crawling in one hole at the bottom, only to hear a scream from a wildcat in the back.

At another bottom cave, we accidentally disturbed a colony of bats. Needless to say, it didn’t take long to exit either one of the caves!

The Vagabond has been in many caves of Northeast Alabama and hopes eventually to relive more memories of them in the future.

Stay tune for the next adventure!

 
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