"Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky, USA" Mammoth Cave National Park by tony248
Mammoth Cave National Park Travel Guide: 109 reviews and 263 photos
Not all the great things to see are above ground. Mammoth Cave National Park, located in the center of the state of Kentucky, is only a little over 3 hours driving time East from my home but I haven't been there since I was a child. Just like the Grand Canyon, water created this natural wonder and it is just as amazing. And, just as with the Grand Canyon, the Cave is still in the process of being shaped by water.
Mammoth Cave already holds the title to the longest explored cave in the world but the cave system, made up of mammoth Cave and privately owned caves outside the Park, has yet to be fully mapped. In fact, some parts of the Mammoth Cave are not on the tours anymore in order to protect both the cave and life forms found only in the Cave. Among other things, there is a species of eyeless fish here found nowhere else in the world.
The Park Rangers a very serious about protecting the Park and the Cave. Read the precautions / restrictions and listen to the Rangers. Above all, enjoy one of the natural wonders of the world.
We took the self-guided Heritage Trail before the underground tour. The Heritage Trail begins near the Visitors Center and makes a long circle of one of the hills above the Historic Entrance to the cave. Located on the top of the hill is the Guides Cemetery. The first guides / explorers of the cave were slaves or workers of the owners of the land above the cave. I don't know how many graves are here but the fenced in area is large enough to hold at a dozen or more. There are markers and signs outside the fence with history of the cemetery.
The early guides explored and added to the known parts of the cave. Using fat or oil fueled lamps and lanterns, the guides walked and crawled through rock and dirt filled passages of the Cave that are a bit of challenge today even with electric lights and smooth paths.
I had forgotten about the mining operations that used to be at the Cave. Saltpeter is one of the ingredients in black powder and Mammoth Cave was the major source of the chemical in the early years of the United States. We were told that the mining in the Cave made the difference between winning or losing in the War of 1812. It was the earth not the rock that was mined, processed and piped to the surface. This picture taken from the modern walkway shows some of the pipes made from hollowed out Poplar trees that were joined together and used to send the solution to the surface for final processing.
It was in this area that our guide stopped for a while to explain the mining operations and what it was like to work in the cave. He showed us what it was like to try to use a fat/grease fueled lamp in the cave. Not very much light and if the fire went out, TOTAL blackness. With no light and only the rustle of the bodies near you, it was spooky.
- Pros:Beautiful and interesting.
- Cons:Somewhat isolated.
- In a nutshell:A cavers delight on many levels.
I loved it. Even though the pace was easy, it was still too fast for me. I will just have to go back. The cave is cool... more travel advice
Let me be clear. I am not a a rabid tree hugger. I do, however, know that some things need to be protected from the... more travel advice
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