Childersburg’s DeSoto Caverns

Childersburg’s DeSoto Caverns

Formerly known as Kymulga Cave, Desoto Caverns in Childersburg, Alabama is a privately owned cave run as a tourist attraction. The main room is more than ten stories high and wired for audiovisual presentations. The cave was used by Native Americans as a burial ground before Europeans arrived in the region. Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto visited the caverns in 1540 while meeting with the Coosa people. It was mined for saltpeter during the civil war and housed moonshine stills during prohibition.
Photo by NealVickers

DeSoto Caverns is a series of caves and a tourist attraction located in Childersburg, Talladega County, Alabama. Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, it is touted as “Alabama’s Big Cave”.

DeSoto Caverns is an amazing underground world with a rich history. Before being commercialized as DeSoto Caverns, the cave was well known locally as Kymulga Cave. There is evidence that the cave was formerly used by Native Americans, and it was mined during the Civil War.During the Civil War, the caverns (then known as Kymulga Cave) became an important source of saltpeter (calcium nitrate), which was used in the manufacture of gunpowder by the Confederacy.

In the early 1920s, after the 18th Amendment to the Constitution prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcohol, illicit outlets for buying and consuming alcohol (known as speakeasies) proliferated throughout the United States. These sites were often located in isolated areas to avoid detection by authorities. DeSoto Caverns was an ideal location—remote but close to the city of Birmingham—and it was operated as a speakeasy that included gambling and dancing. It quickly gained a bad reputation after repeated shootings and fights and became known as “The Bloody Bucket.” There are still bullet holes evident in the rock formations. Its reputation finally proved its undoing when federal agents raided it and closed it.

The Cathedral Room, the main room of the cave, is as long as a football field and 12 stories high. It was thought at one time that the cave system was very large, extending from near Childersburg to Talladega, Alabama. However, explorations have revealed only one place where the cave continues for any distance beyond the main room. At the left end of the rear wall of the main room, the cave continues some two or three hundred yards, ending at a blank wall and a small pool of water.