Mammoth Cave

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As I mentioned last week, the boy's and I decided to head out on a series of adventures for spring break.  One of the highlights of our week was our journey to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.  

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Mammoth Cave is, by far, the longest cave system in the world, with over 390 miles that have been mapped.  A mere twelve miles are open for visitors to explore.  

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The fellows and I decided to take the Grand Avenue Tour.  The 4 1/2 hour, 4 mile trek through the cave contains 670 stairs and a change in elevation of 280 feet.  As we made our way, the park ranger conducting our tour would stop us periodically to tell us about the history, geological make-up and other interesting facts about the cave. 

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During the 1800's, the cave was owned by a variety of landowners.  One such man, Franklin Gorin, realized the cave's potential as a tourist attraction and decided to offer tours to wealthy Kentuckians.  His slave, Stephen Bishop, became the first guide to lead groups down into the cave.   

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At night, Bishop, would explore the cave on his own.  Over the course of almost twenty years, Bishop discovered and named some of the most breathtaking sites within the cave including the Bottomless Pit, the Echo River, the gypsum-filled Cleveland Avenue, the Roaring River and the 192-foot high Mammoth Dome.

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The tours were lit by candles resting on the end of a long stick.  Once in the cave, the tourists could request that the slaves write their name on the cave walls with smoke from the candles.  Many of the names are still visible today. 

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The cave, which is home to a variety of bats, crickets, and eyeless fish, crayfish and shrimp, stays at a rather chilly and humid 54 degrees year round.  The tour is lit with LED's and fiber-optics which not only light the pathways, but illuminate the natural features and extensive gypsum deposits.  At one point during the tour, the ranger turned off all the lights.  It was disorienting to sit there in complete and total darkness.

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The most spectacular formation in the cave is the travertine Frozen Niagra.  The incredible drip-stone stalactites, stalagmites, columns and curtains are truly breathtaking.

The boys and I had a great time on our adventure.  In fact, we may even consider going back for the Introduction to Caving or Wild Cave Tour when the boy gets a little older.  First, I'm going to have to get over my fear of enclosed spaces.

3 comment(s). Leave yours!:

helen said... Best Blogger Tips

wow! that's a great trip for all ages.

mshike said... Best Blogger Tips

Fun!! :)

Aer Conditionat said... Best Blogger Tips

Seems to be very interesting and looks that you have fun. Nice pictures, i will search for more informations about this cave, i like what i see in your photos.

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