Three Caves Land Trust of North Alabama
Just two miles from downtown Huntsville, tucked inside a residential
area, you’ll find an interesting remnant of local history. Three Caves
sits among the trees on Land Trust of North Alabama’s Monte Sano Nature
Preserve. Despite its name, it’s actually not a cave at all but a former
limestone mine, originally known as Hermitage Quarry.
Beginning in spring 1945, Madison County leased the site to the Madison
Limestone Company. For the next seven years, limestone harvested from
the ground paved many of Huntsville’s streets and parking lots as the
surrounding area quickly grew. To more easily access the higher quality
limestone located further underground, a method of mining called “room
and pillar” was used. This created the three cave-like openings that
give the site its current name. There is also a maze of connecting
caverns that extend approximately 6 acres underground.
In 1952, the quarry operation was closed due to skyrocketing costs and
growth of the City of Huntsville that encroached closer and closer to
the mine. The quarry site remained unused for the next several years
with a couple of exceptions. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, officials
designated it as a fallout shelter. It has served as a film site for
movies and even a music video. (“The Ravagers” in 1978, “What Waits
Below” in 1984, and Kansas’ “Reason to Be” in the early eighties).