published Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Sequoyah Caverns in Fort Payne, Ala., closing after 49 years

Owner John Jones talks about Sequoyah Caverns in Valley Head, Ala.
Owner John Jones talks about Sequoyah Caverns in Valley Head, Ala.
Photo by Angela Lewis.
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The still waters of Sequoyah Caverns' "looking glass lakes" soon will be hidden from public view.

The famous Fort Payne, Ala., attraction will close its doors on Sept. 3 after hosting visitors for 49 years, according to a news release.

"This summer will be the last chance to see the beautiful 'looking glass lakes' of Sequoyah Caverns," owner John Jones said.

The privately owned property has been in the Jones family since 1841, and Jones said he simply decided it was time to close up shop.

"I'm 79 years old, and I'm retiring from active business," he said.

Sequoyah Caverns is marked by the pristine surfaces of its lakes, the waters of which reflect the thousands of rock formations inside the caves. The caves also boast huge stalagmites, waterfalls and writings on the walls dating back to the 1800s.

"It's an interesting story, and it's a beautiful property," said John Dersham, executive director of DeKalb County Tourism. "It's very photogenic."

The attraction, named after Chief Sequoyah, who created the Cherokee alphabet, is a much-beloved and popular tourist destination. It was named Attraction of the Year in 2006 by the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, and TripAdvisor.com named it the No. 1 thing to do in Alabama in 2010.

The site also offers a gift shop and a farm animal corral as well as fishing and hiking.

In 1841, James Ellis moved his family to the homestead and continued to acquire and cultivate hundreds of acres of woodlands. Ellis' direct descendants still live on the remaining 58 acres.

Dersham said the Jones family wanted to give tourists all summer to see the caves before Jones retired.

"As far as we know right now, it'll be closed permanently," Dersham said.

For more information on visiting Sequoyah Caverns, call 1-800-843-5098 or go to SequoyahCaverns.com.

Contact staff writer Lindsay Burkholder at lburkholder@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.

about Lindsay Burkholder...

Lindsay Burkholder is originally from Winston-Salem, N.C. She graduated from Covenant College in May 2012 with a bachelor's degree in English. While at Covenant she spent time writing for and editing the news section of the school newspaper, The Bagpipe. Burkholder also attended the World Journalism Institute in New York City in 2011.

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