The world's first man-made cave for hibernating bats was built in August and September 2012. It provides a controlled location to study ways to protect bats from White Nose Syndrome.
Tennessee Cave and Karst Program Director Cory Holliday stands on the site of the artificial cave a few months before construction began.
This is one of the two entrances of the natural cave that is located only a few hundred yards from the artificial cave.
Cory Holliday inspects the rough, textured surface of one of the pre-cast concrete sections of the cave at the factory.
At the factory yard: The man-made cave is composed of 28 pre-cast concrete sections. Most of them weigh between 17 and 21 tons each!
Construction began in earnest on August 23, 2012, as powerful flat-bed trucks brought in the massive concrete pieces of the cave.
A rear view of the cave at the end of the first day of construction. Notice how a furrow in the hillside has been dug for the cave. The circular hole on the right side will connect to a chimney for air flow.
A front view of the partially built artificial cave on August 23. Note the massive crane needed to lift the concrete sections into place.
A close-up view of the artificial cave. At this point, the major construction was about one-third complete.
Loading a massive 17-ton section of the cave into place via crane.
A bulldozer was used to push the pieces in tight.
A power shovel was used to delicately push top pieces in as well.
Here a large bulkhead segment is loaded into place via the crane. Each piece is held to the others by tongue-and-groove construction and their prodigious weight.
This piece of the cave is the bats' entrance. It is located on the top of the cave. In this photo, the main body of the cave is now buried under more than four feet of dirt.
A view of the human entrance (below) and the bat entrance (top) following construction on the site.The artificial cave has capacity to house up to about 200,000 bats.