The History of Storm Chasm in Marion County, Tennessee
On November 5, 1988 Marion O. Smith along with Gerald Moni and Patricia Anthony set out for a ridge walk in Cave Cove in Marion County, Tennessee. They parked at the gate at the mouth of the cove and made their way up on the ridge to approximately 1,280’ of elevation where they eventually found their first hole! It had a 5’ x 9’ opening to an offset 54’ blind pit, and was 25’ long. Marion was the only one to explore the cave and he named it Fuss Well because of the fussing that Gerald and he were doing with Patricia over where to measure it from. After determining it was either 53 or 54 foot depending on where you measure from they continued their ridge walk until they found a definite contact. Just above two ravines, Marion found a second hole. It was moving air so he began digging on it. Not far from where Marion was digging, less than 100 feet, Gerald found and began digging on another hole. Marion was able to get his hole large enough to squeeze in, and quickly found a T entrance to a joint. About ten horizontal and ten vertical feet away he came to the top of a “forty plus foot” pit. By this time, a very threatening weather situation was beginning to occur on the surface. Dark clouds and high winds began moving in. Marion rigged a rope for the pit and Patricia came inside and waited just above the pit in a 6 foot high pocket which they named “Pat’s Beflry”. Marion descended the narrow but free virgin drop which he soon found out was more than 40 feet. Luckily for him, his 170 foot rope was long enough and he had about 25 feet on the bottom. After looking around he saw about 60 feet of passage, most of which was in a 40’ diameter breakdown room. He wimped and didn’t climb down a 20’ climb on the other side of a breakdown slap. He then prusiked up the rope and he and Pat made their way out of the cave. Pat decided to name the cave “Storm Chasm” because of the threatening storm that was upon them.
Meanwhile, while Marion and Pat were in the newly discovered cave, Gerald had dropped his hammer in the pit he was digging on below them. Marion began digging with his hammer and eventually tried to back into it but he got wedged. He managed to get his seat harness off and slip thru and jumared down 24 feet to a ledge, cleared a rock and then down 22 more feet. At the bottom, there was a few feet of slope and then two more seven foot pits. After the two seven footers, he then squeezed down a 6 footer with out a rope and was stopped when it became too tight. He then made his way out noting he never saw Gerald’s hammer. They decided to name this little horror hole Tight As Well. Just as Marion was exiting the cave it began to rain again. They made their way off the mountain with thunder and lightening.
The next day on November 6, 1988 Marion along with Jim Smith, Gerald Moni, Ray Gregory and Trent Algren made their way back out to Storm Chasm. Patricia opted to wait in the car this time. Trent and Jim did Tight As Well and Trent made it through the tight squeeze that Marion could not. The cave only continued for 10 more feet before it ended and he did however find Gerald’s lost hammer! All five of them did “yoyo” Storm Chasm and Ray pushed where Marion did not the day before and it also ended. They also measured the pit at 110 feet.
On January 11, 2014 Ben Miller, Brian Ham, Jim Campell, Jason Hardy and Kelly Smallwood made their way to Storm Chasm to map the cave as a part of Ben’s D.P.A.S. Project to map all the unmapped pits over 100 feet in Tennessee. After some initial searching they eventually found the pit among some serious tree debris from a storm a few years back. The entrance is small, only 2 feet long and only 1 foot wide. Twelve feet vertically below and 10 feet offset from the entrance is the 110 foot pit. At the bottom there is a slope followed by a crawl over breakdown where you pop into a breakdown chamber that is 40 feet wide. The map was drafted by Ben Miller and Jason Hardy.