The Kingston Saltpeter Cave




The Kingston Saltpeter Cave is the largest cave in Bartow County. During the War it was a source of saltpeter, the critical oxidizing component of gunpowder. It is probably Georgia's most historic cave.

The Preserve is located almost entirely on and along the flanks of a large isolated dolomite knob, providing an incredible vista in all directions. Outcroppings of the Knox series of dolomite are found, along with an array of multicolored agates. The focal point of the Preserve is the Kingston Saltpeter Cave.

The earliest known miner and powder maker at Kingston Saltpeter Cave was William Nicholson, who in April, 1804, was "making powder at Hightower [a settlement along the Etowah River] at a certain cave." For rent of the cave, he was to give the Cherokees "Two hundred pounds of powder annually."

The Kingston Saltpeter cave is now a preserved area composed of 40 acres of largely hardwood forest, underlain by a variety of wildflowers and mosses. The National Speleological Society manages the cave under an agreement with the Felburn Foundation which acquired the property in late 1983 in order to preserve, maintain, and protect it for future generations.

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The Kingston Saltpeter Cave Nature Preserve is composed of 40 acres of largely hardwood forest, underlain by a variety of wildflowers and mosses. The area is teeming with wildlife, from deer and an occasional bear to small rodents, snakes, birds and microscopic life. The Pleistocene fossil record and archaeological evidence alone warrant its protection and continued study.

The Preserve and the cave itself presently are not open to the general public. Although general maintenance trips are conducted and the property is checked from time-to-time, sport caving is not allowed. Special interest groups are granted permission to visit the Preserve on a "case" basis only.

The Preserve is located almost entirely on and along the flanks of a large isolated dolomite knob, providing an incredible vista in all directions. Outcroppings of the Knox series of dolomite are found, along with an array of multicolored agates. The focal point of the Preserve is the Kingston Saltpeter Cave.




Kingston Then and Now