Where We Be
|We entered Mammoth Cave through the historic natural entrance
|Looking back up at the entrance
|Near the entrance we passed a lit Christmas tree underground -- a fun touch!
|During the War of 1812 the caves served as the main source of saltpeter used to make gunpowder. Slaves lived underground 24/7 processing
the saltpeter out of the dirt. We could still see the large piles of dirt and the huge “sifting boxes” they stood in to extract the saltpeter.
|The words on the ceiling say "Landram's Saxhorn Band 1855" -- a graffiti reminder of a band who played here for a group of early explorers
|It could also be called "Tall Man's Misery" since you have to crouch down for so much of it
|Fat Man's Misery is a narrow, winding passageway deep underground that goes on for longer than we expected
|We negotiated the tight quarters of Fat Man's Misery and eventually came to Mammoth Dome, where we climbed 155 steps to the cave's top level
|Silhouetted view of trees through the cave's historic entrance
Mammoth Cave is the WORLD'S longest known
cave system, with 390+ miles explored so far. A
guide from the early 1800s called it a "grand,
gloomy, and peculiar place," and indeed it is. It
lacks the dramatic stalactites and stalagmites
of a cave system like Carlsbad Caverns in New
Mexico but makes up for it with its sheer size.
We took the "Historic Tour" which enters the
cave through its historic natural entrance.
Mammoth Cave has been used for millenia:
mummies have been found from prehistoric
times, and seeing the mummies was a big draw
for early tourists. Our tour took us into the
lower depths (there are five levels altogether).
Particularly memorable was a section known as
Fat Man’s Misery, where we squeezed through
a narrow, winding passageway that went on for
quite awhile. The Historic Tour ($12 per person)
was two miles long and took about two hours.