Among the rolling hills of Warren County and discreetly hidden beneath the canopy of an oak-hickory forest lies a gaping hole in the ground 75 feet in diameter. This pit-like opening, formed by the collapse of a limestone shell, is commonly known as Hubbard’s Cave, The Nature Conservancy’s foremost cave preserve. The cave contains three separate forks, each opening at the main entrance and leading to distinctively contoured passages of varying lengths and dimensions. The west fork (the longest of the three), for example, reveals rooms reaching 50 feet in height and is decorated with magnificent gypsum formations. The south fork is the location of one of the most important bat hibernation sites in the world.
The cave was discovered in 1810 by Joseph Heberlein and subsequently named after him. The cave’s name was gradually corrupted to the more pronounceable Hubbard’s Cave and has been a site of great activity since its discovery. During the Civil War, Hubbard’s Cave was used as a nitrate mine and gunpowder was ground on the still-existing dirt mound assembled by the miners. Remnants such as ladders, bridges and troughs can be found intact in certain areas of the cave, and etched-in names date as early as 1809.