Lookout Mountain is widely known for its
many unusual geological features. The most unique of which being Ruby Falls, a 145 foot underground waterfall located over
1120 feet beneath the mountain’s surface. The fascinating story of the formation of Lookout Mountain, the Ruby Falls cave and Ruby Falls itself is told by how the rocks that formed
each of these wonders did so.
Click the links below for each subject
Cavern Castle and
Ruby Falls Founder
Other Interesting Points
A tour of both the Ruby Falls Cave and the
Lookout Cavern lasted up to four hours in the 1930’s.
The first tour guides were all men. They were paid 75 cents
an hour. Women were only used to run the elevator.
Ruby Falls was one of the first caves in the world to use
electric lights. The first lighting consisted of electric
lights strung onto poles.
At 1120 feet underground Ruby Falls is one of the deepest
commercial caverns in the world
At 145 feet tall Ruby Falls is one of the largest
underground waterfalls accessible to the public.
The path behind the waterfall was built in
Over 70,000 feet of wiring is in the cave for the over 500
The alternate exit from the Ruby Falls Cavern was
constructed in the 70’s this pathway which extends an
additional 1000 feet from the elevator to the side of the
mountain cost $100,000 to build.
The alternate exit from the Ruby Falls cave was created in
1975 by the Cowin Engineering Company of Birmingham,
Alabama. They are the company that drilled the original
shaft. In 1985 the company also constructed bypasses in the
The men who constructed the pathways at Ruby Falls were
mining engineers from the copper mines at Copperhill,
Many of the formations in the cave were broken by young tour
guides during the Great Depression. They broke off
formations and sold the onyx to help support their families,
during this time the cave also suffered from vandalism. Very
little of the damage to the cave was caused by the
Cavern Castle &
Cavern Castle, the Ruby Falls entrance
building was once used as a dinner/dance hall. The dances
were later stopped to present Ruby Falls as a family
If the elevator shaft was drilled six feet from its present
location, both caves would have been missed entirely.
The third floor was added to Cavern Castle in 1976.
The first elevator cost $20,235
Ruby Falls is 837 feet above sea level
The best estimate to the actual age of Ruby Falls is 30
The rate at which the formations grow varies from cave to
cave and can actually vary from place to place in the same
cave. The rate is affected by the amount of ground water
moving through the rocks, air circulation in the cave,
temperature of the cave, and relative humidity. The average
is one cubic inch every one hundred to one hundred fifty
When you are at the waterfall you are actually about 10 feet
higher than you were when you started the tour. As you walk
towards the waterfall, the mountain gets taller above you
that is why you end up 1,120 ft underground.
The temperature at Ruby Falls reflects the average
temperature of Chattanooga (59.4)
The waterfall keeps the relative humidity of the cave at
Due to its size and location the “Leaning Tower” is thought
to be between 3 and 5 million years old.
People who explore caves are called spelunkers.
People who study caves are called speleologists.
Lookout Mountain has a sandstone cap that runs from Point
Park along the top of the mountain. Several hundred feet
below that is a layer of shale nearly 400 feet thick. The
rest of the mountain is solid limestone.
The water from Ruby Falls flows through the cave into the
Ruby Falls Founder
Prior to Ruby Falls Leo Lambert was occupied
as a chemist.
Leo Lambert moved to Chattanooga because his fiancée Ruby
Eugenia Losey moved here with her family. They were married
in 1916 and had 3 children who reached adulthood.
Leo Lambert was the first person to explore the Tennessee
Cave on Mount Aetna, it is now known as the Raccoon Mountain
Leo Lambert at one time managed the Nickajack Caverns.
Nickajack has one of the world’s largest stalagmites and
could only be reached by using an electric boat. The cave
was flooded by TVA and is no longer toured.
Leo Lambert died in 1950, he was 55. Ruby Lambert died in
1951, she was also 55.
Opening week for Ruby Falls was sponsored by
the Elks clubs and all of the money went to them.
The first wedding at Ruby Falls was in 1930 in the lower
Babe Ruth and the NY Yankees visited Ruby Falls in 1931. The
game against the Chattanooga Lookouts made the history books
because a female pitcher, Jackie Mitchell, was used by the
Lookouts. During the contest she struck out Babe Ruth, Lou
Gehrig, and Tony Lazzeri.
A beauty contest was held at Ruby Falls in 1937. Fourteen
women were involved. They were filmed diving into the pool
at the waterfall by Tye Sanders of Atlanta; the film was
distributed by the Universal Film Exchange for movie
Other Interesting Points
Ruby Falls was a designated fallout shelter
during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Ruby Falls had a capacity
of 720 people and was stocked with water and dehydrated
A tour guide once roller skated through the cave. That same
tour guide lost a bet to another guide and had to push him
in a wheelbarrow all the way to the waterfall.
In 1963 three catfish were place in the pool at the bottom
of the waterfall; they died not even two weeks later. The
high mineral content of the waterfall and streams make it
impossible for fish to survive in Ruby Falls.
The word “Chattanooga” is a Creek word meaning “rock coming
to a point” it is thought to be a description of Lookout
At one time the Lookout Mountain Cave was still accessible
through the Railroad Tunnel but was closed by the railroad
company after they built the tunnel because bootleggers were
using the cave during prohibition.
When the Lookout Mountain Cave opened, it had a wooden door
in the side of the Railroad tunnel that was used as an
emergency exit. The tour guide each had a key to the door.
It was blocked off to prevent vandalism.