World-Renowned Caver Roy Davis Passes Away

Tuesday, April 3, 2018 - by Kelly Roberts

This week marks the end of an era on Cardwell Mountain with the passing of Cumberland Caverns beloved founder, Roy A. Davis, Jr. Mr. Davis was born and raised in Indiana but would later make Warren County his home after falling in love with a little-known cave in the rural Tennessee hills named “Higgenbotham’s” after the original discoverer in 1810. With the help of his friend and fellow caver, Tank Gorin, and landowner-A.W. Powell, Mr. Davis's dream to share the beauty of his special cave with the world became a reality in July 1956 when Cumberland Caverns welcomed its first guests.   

World-renowned as an expert in caves, Mr. Davis was instrumental in helping to establish, commercialize, and light a great number of spectacular show caves during his lifetime. Longtime friends remember him fondly:

Roy Davis was loved and respected by hundreds of leaders in the cave industry.  He not only developed Cumberland Caverns but had huge projects in Meramec Caverns, Ruby Falls, Luray Caverns, Howe Caverns and many other caves in the USA.  Roy also developed several caverns in the Caribbean. Many will remember Roy for his faith, his love for others, as well as his love for fun and adventure. He will be greatly missed.”-Jack Herschend, Herschend Family Entertainment

To many people, Roy Davis was a hero! In the caving world, Roy Davis was known around the world as a master of commercializing and lighting caves. He made a huge time investment here in Warren County opening Cumberland Caverns for commercial tours in 1956. That investment has brought millions of tourists through Warren County and has provided jobs for countless teenagers and adults alike over the 62 years that Cumberland Caverns has been in operation. Roy helped to shape the lives of many of Warren County’s youth including mine. Roy will be missed here on Cardwell Mountain!” - Robby Black, general manager, Cumberland Caverns

Roy was more than just a cave explorer and entrepreneur.  He was an employer, a trusted guide, a preacher and someone who loved adventure whether it was in the forest on at the controls of a mighty Wurlitzer.  Roy’s life touched so many others that the stories will never cease, nor should they, because when eternity comes Roy is likely to be serving as St. Peter’s marketing director.” - Ed Yarbrough, Attorney and Former Cave Guide

Mr. Davis possessed a great amount of talent and successfully wore many hats during his lifetime.  His creativity and ingenuity knew no bounds and evidence of that can be found by stepping 333’ below the surface and looking up at the magnificent chandelier he rescued from the Loews Metropolitan Theater in NY that now graces the ceiling of the Volcano Room inside Cumberland Caverns. Mr. Davis lived a very full life and to name all his accomplishments would fill several books. It is extremely hard to put into words his contribution to countless numbers of children and their families, not to mention this community and state as a whole.

Mr. Davis breathed life and poured love into Cumberland Caverns, which in turn has blessed this community and will continue to amaze, excite, and entertain the entire world for generations to come.

Services for Mr. Davis, will be held at 2 p.m. CST on Wednesday, April 4, at the First Christian Church of Sparta. Visitation will be from 1 p.m. CST until the time of service.


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