In Thornton’s Cave, in southern Sumter County, you see beams of light streaming through holes in the ceiling, worn by thousands of years of steadily flowing water.
You see that the bottom half of the tunnel is almost as white as chalk, scoured by that same steady flow.
At the end of the one-third-mile-long cave, you see where the spring run once emerged. And you see that the run’s bed is not only dry, but covered by grass, weeds and opportunistic seedlings.
“I used to be afraid of this cave because you had to worry about cottonmouths and alligators,” Robert Brooks said with a shrug, meaning, obviously, that’s not a problem now.