…Its entrance is on the side of a small hill, the mouth sufficiently large to admit two persons at a time in a standing posture. After furnishing ourselves with lighted candles we commenced our “exploring expedition.” A few steps led us into a large subterranean hall, of very irregular and curious structure. Its floor was quite uneven; and its roof thickly studded with glittering stalactites, forming a splendid arch, apparently supported by finely chiseled pillars of solid rock. After proceeding some distance, clambering over rocks, jumping ravines, now ascending land, anon descending, we at length reached a fine, cool spring, which gushed forth from a cleft in a large rock situated in a remote corner of the first apartment.
Such descriptions helped stimulate Florida’s first tourism industry, bringing visitors from across the country to Marianna to explore the caves and experience the beautiful scenery. Early accounts describe how visitors to Marianna were taken out to the natural bridge in wagons or carriages and given torchlight tours of the cavern. The process continues to this day, albeit in more modern form. If you would like to learn more about Florida Caverns State Park, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/floridacaverns.