Illegal Pot Cave Will Soon Have New Use
By Nick Beres
TROUSDALE COUNTY, Tenn. - The Tennessee pot cave is now part of local legend. A massive subterranean drug bust made headlines around the world. Police shut the place down, but now nearly a decade later something new is coming to the natural Trousdale County cave.
"I plan to age artisan cheese inside the cave," said Fermo Jaeckle, the man who bought the cave at auction from the state six years ago.
That's a far cry from the marijuana cultivating operation. The drug cave had it all: A luxury house built above, high tech lighting and even an emergency escape hatch for the dealers cultivating the 800 potent plants underground. The hatch didn't work and the dealers were arrested, convicted and sent to prison.
"This cave is really something like you would see in a James Bond movie. It's got bunk houses, offices, ventilation, water and heat, plus the escape hatch," said prosecutor David Durham at the time of the bust.
Jaeckle, a respected cheese maker, paid $285,000 for the cave at auction to start a new venture. The 600-square foot cave is a constant 58 degrees: The perfect climate for aging fine cheeses.
Locals are glad to see something new in the works.
"That kind of surprised everybody when he said he'd buy it to put cheese in," said Trousdale County Sheriff Ray Russell.
The cave still pretty much looks like what it did the day drug agents busted the place. But plans are in place to retrofit the cave for aging cheese. Jaeckle said he recognizes the marketing potential of setting up shot in a former marijuana cave.
"Well, we were thinking of calling it the Potluck Dairy. How about that?" said Jaeckle.
Jaeckle said there is no set timetable for the new cheese operation but hopes to get started soon.