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Cooling at the Cave this Saturday

Cooling at the Cave will be held at the entrance of Dunbar Cave on Saturday, July 25, from 4:00 p.m. untill 6:00 p.m.

Dunbar Cave seen from across Swan LakeBack before there was such a thing as air conditioning, people in this area would gather at Dunbar Cave to enjoy the 58 degree naturally cool air coming out of the cave entrance. While the men worked at jobs during the day, the women, their children and pets would escape the heat by lounging at the cave entrance.  Sometimes the men would join the family for a dinner picnic at the cave.  Tables and chairs were provided where people could play card games and bingo.  At night the tables were pushed aside to make an area for music and dancing.

cave  hand colored postcard  picture taken 1890
The use of Dunbar cave to cool down during hot summers is as old as time.

Cooling at the cave was so popular that the cave property passed through many hands during its time as a resort area.  In 1933 the Idaho Springs Corporation added an Olympic sized swimming pool and many other amenities to the site.  In 1948 Roy Acuff purchased the property and Dunbar Cave was a swinging place hosting some of the most popular bands during the Big Band era. After the property lay abandoned and vandalized for several years, it was rescued in 1973 by the State of Tennessee, and turned into a natural area.

There are people in Clarksville like Marguerite Rubel who remember the good ole days at the cave and reminisce about it with fond memories.  Three years ago Friends of Dunbar Cave member Barbara Wilbur got the idea to rekindle the activities such as card and board game playing at the entrance of the cave.  So she talked the Friends group into hosting this event for one day during the summer.  This will be the third year that the Friends of Dunbar Cave,  with permission from the Park staff, hold this event.

waiting outside cave
The crowds gather around the cave to enjoy the cool air during the hot summer.

Volunteers will gather to set up chairs and tables on the hot muggy July afternoon.  The first year when I helped set up the chairs and tables we were so hot that we put tables as close to the cave as we could get them.  After awhile we had to move the tables away from the entrance because it was too cold. Refreshments such as cookies and lemonade are set out for the soon to gather crowd. The Musicians arrive, and guests start coming up the trail, many bearing their own board games or cards. They find a table and then spend the afternoon with old friends and perhaps making some new acquaintances as was done in days past.  This event is so popular that the comment most repeated is, “When are you going to do this again?”

Cooling in July 2008
Cooling at the Cave in 2008

Come out and join us this Saturday, July 25th, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the cave entrance as we relive the good ole days at Dunbar Cave.  Bring your own board game and cards, or just hang out and visit.   The Swan Lake Golf Course and its Manager Jeff Vaughn is providing the use of one of their golf carts to allow us to give rides for those who need help making it to the cave entrance.

The refreshments are free and donations are always welcomed.  The Friends of Dunbar Cave is a group dedicated to helping preserve the park and educate the public.

Don Horton and Jax
Don Horton and his dog Jax

The 2008 Cooling at the Cave

Debbie Boen
Debbie Boen
Debbie and her family moved to Clarksville slightly after the tornado of 1999. Debbie founded the group, Clarksville Freethinkers for Peace and Civil Liberties, in 2004. She participated in Gathering to Save Our Democracy, a group dedicated to obtaining free and verifiable elections in Tennessee. She has supported groups including the NAACP, Nashville Peace Coalition, PFLAG, Friends of Dunbar Cave and the Mountain Top Removal Series of Films and speakers. She participated as an artist in the ARTZ gallery group in Clarksville and won Best of Show, First and 2 Second Place awards for four of her sculptures. She won a voter's choice award for a performance at the Roxy Regional Theatre. She is a wife, mother and cancer survivor. She is always amazed at the capabilities of the human spirit, and the wisdom to find humor when there is none.


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