Special to SEGAZINE
Black Diamond Tunnel sits just outside the city of Clayton in the northeast corner of Georgia.
In the mid-1800s, the tunnel was meant to be part of a train passageway connecting South Carolina to Ohio. After the breakout of the Civil War, construction stopped and never resumed.
Today, the man-made tunnel is the state’s largest known winter shelter for some of Georgia’s 16 bat species. It’s also the latest site in the state to fall victim to white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that’s killed more than 6 million bats in the eastern half of the U.S. since it arrived from Europe in 2006.
Almost immediately upon pushing off into the flooded tunnel in a small Jon boat, Katrina Morris, a bat specialist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, points to dead bats floating in the chilly, rippling water.