Cross this threshold and you journey to a place, dark, mysterious, and full of wonder. John Jones and his family have been running the place for years. "We really don't know when it was discovered, but my great, great grandfather came here in 1841 from Tennessee. We don't know if he found the cave before he bought the property," said Jones.
"Ellis Cave" soon went public and became Sequoyah Caverns. There is even a backstory about the man who made it public. "We were opened commercially by Mr. Clark Byars," says tour guide Carrie Payton, who knows the story well. "Before Mr. Byars came here, he painted over 900 barns."
Those barns have been the subject of many a discussion. "He's famous for having painted all the see rock city barns," adds Jones.
Inside the cave, mineral formations appear as nature's sculptures. They seem to take on a life of their own. "When we have school groups and kids in, they always want to know if there is a bear in the cave. We do have a bear there; he is a big brown bear," said Jones.
Round any corner, and you will find that things are not always what they seem. "You think it's a big canyon when it's only a water reflection and it's only about 8 inches deep."
At the entrance to what is known as "The Ballroom," stalactites and stalagmites form what some call "Little Jerusalem." To the left is a gigantic column.
Jones leads us to a huge space. "This is the tallest room in the caverns. It's about 52 feet tall. And this formation that I'm looking at right now, we refer to it as the haystack."
But even small structures about 6 to 8 inches can get a lot of attention. The Plexiglas went up over one small formation in 1977. "Those are hollow in the center, just like a soda straw. The water comes down through the center of the straw. And the droplet hangs on the end. And the air evaporates the water leaving the mineral to make the formation."
Narrow passageways provide a gateway to the past. "There's evidence that our cave was formed when the waters receded after the flood of Noah's time", adds Jones.
This allows tour guides, like Payton, to trace time through fossils. "These are called Archimedes Brazoa. And these were a type of a coral. It is not one animal that you see there. It's actually several small ones."
Jones has been here most of his life following a family tradition...now he says he wants to retire....and let the cave retire too. "It will be good to heal itself from the foot traffic."