Timothy Demonbreun's Cave – Nashville, Tennessee - Atlas Obscura

Timothy Demonbreun's Cave

The small cave that housed Tennessee's "first citizen." 


Seemingly little more than a wide crack in the rock on the Cumberland River, Timothy Demonbreun’s Cave actually served as a makeshift home for the locally famous fur-trapper, among the 650,000+ Native Americans of various tribes that called Tennessee home. This area is squarely located in what is known ancestrally as Chickasaw land.  

The son of French Canadian nobles, Timothy Demonbreun disregarded his titles and took up the life of a simple fur trader in Tennessee. After finding a spot along the Cumberland that attracted a great deal of game, he chose to stay in the remote area and establish himself, but with no man-made shelter around, he holed up in a small cave. The first resident of European descent in what is now Nashville, Demonbreun used this cave as a temporary home for several months while pursuing his livelihood as a fur trader and building a more suitable residence. Later a successful merchant and tavern keeper, this “First Caucasian Citizen of Nashboro” still has many descendants in the area today.

The cave now seems like just a large crack in the rock above the Cumberland, but it is actually protected as a national landmark and the entrance is guarded by steel bars.

Know Before You Go

Demonbreun's cave can best be viewed from the river; it is about 1 mile upstream from downtown Nashville, on the right bank. Its entrance is blocked by a cage of steel bars that were damaged in the flood of May, 2010.

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