published Sunday, August 26th, 2012

Groups rally to protect Tennessee scenic landmark

Virgin Falls isn't the highest waterfall in Tennessee — that distinction belongs to Fall Creek Falls — but it's one of the most distinctive.

The waterfall is fed by an underground stream that emerges from a cave near the lip of the falls. After plummeting 110 feet, the stream then disappears into a second cave beneath the rocks at the bottom of the sink. While other waterfalls on the Cumberland Plateau perform similar disappearing acts, few do so as dramatically as Virgin Falls.

Located in White County about 20 miles southeast of Sparta, Virgin Falls was one of the first tracts to be designated a State Natural Area after Tennessee passed the Natural Areas Preservation Act in the early 1970s. Contrary to popular belief, the state doesn't own Virgin Falls State Natural Area, but rather has a lease on the 1,157 acres that provides for its environmental protection and public access.

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