top of page

Martin Springs, Tennessee

Martin Springs: The Headwaters for Battle Creek, Marion County, Tennessee

Martin Springs is a spring located on the east side of Battle Creek Valley at the mouth of Cave Cove, which is near where Interstate 24 ascends towards Monteagle. It has a large opening with a large stream emerging and it is estimated that 6500 gallons of water flow from it every minute. It is essentially the headwaters of Battle Creek.

Some of the earliest history recorded here tells us that it was along the Bell Route of the Trail of Tears and it was used as a campsite by the Cherokee Indians in 1838. It was also a site used during the Civil War and several battles were fought nearby.

During 1915-1927 the Dixie Hwy (Hwy 41) was being constructed and it went right by the spring. Thornton Herbert Martin saw potential in the year round 60 degree spring and purchased it. He soon thereafter opened Martin Springs Tourist Camp which offered traveling tourists cabins, a boardinghouse and he also advertised the spring water as having healing properties.

In July of 1958, members of the Florida Speleological Society explored Martin Springs with diving gear. They found that a water filled passage 15 feet in diameter runs 250 feet to a room that is 50 feet in diameter and about 40 feet high. Another water filled passage 5 feet in diameter and 100 feet long connects this room with a breakdown filled chamber 150 feet long, 50 feet wide and 30 feet high. No progress was made beyond this area.

It was later explored again by cave divers in the mid 60’s by Joe Dabbs and then again a month or so later by George Krassle. George was the first known cave diver to leave a line in the cave. Forrest Wilson later retrieved George’s line and reel line in the early 70’s. Forrest surveyed the underwater cave at that time however another cave diver,  Jason Richards later did a re-survey. The cave is known for 550 feet and is 50 feet deep. Cavers and cave divers have long suspected that the spring connects with nearby Martin Springs High Hole (another cave above Martin Springs) and one cave diver (Josh Shouse) has made a couple of attempts at diving the sump in Martin Springs High Hole but so far no physical connection has been made between the two caves.

Also in the mid 60’s, Interstate 24 was built and like many pop up attractions along Hwy 41, the interstate bypassed them and the tourist camp eventually closed.

Martin Springs is privately owned and they do not welcome visitors to the site. Please do not attempt diving the spring or visit the area without landowner permission. Please respect their property.

Ben Miller & Brian Ham measuring the spring as part of their Karst Springs Initiative Project

Ben Miller & Brian Ham measuring the spring in high flow as part of their Karst Springs Initiative Project (2017)

Ben Miller & Brian Ham measuring the spring in high flow as part of their Karst Springs Initiative Project (2017)

bottom of page