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1870. ,, 

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1870, by 


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the 
Eastern District of Pennsylvania. 

Im fflork 







PmiADElPHlA, April, 1870. 





Introduction 13 

The Cave 19 


Location of the Cave. — Means of Approach, and Character 
of the Surrounding Country. — The Indian Cave. — Mam- 
moth Cave Hotel, etc 29 

Atmosphere of the Cave 43 


The Formation of the Cave, and its Connection vsrith Green 
River 48 



The Entrance. — The Rotunda. — The Vats and Water-pipes 
used by the Saltpetre Miners. — The Methodist Church. 
— The Giant's CofiBn. — The Bottomless Pit. — Fat Man's 
Misery. — Bacon Chamber. — River Styx, and Lake 

Lethe 55 





Echo River 77 


The Eyeless Fishes of the Cave 84 


Silliman's Avenue. — Rhoda's Arcade. — Lucy's Dome, and 
Pass of El Ghor 103 


Martha's Vineyard. — Elindo Avenue. — The Holy Sepul- 
chre. — Washington Hall 110 


Cleveland's Cabinet, and the Rocky Mountain . . . 117 

The Maelstrom. — A Perilous Adventure .... 129 

The Rats, Insects, etc. of the Cave 136 

Homeward Bound 141 



Grorin's Dome. — Pensacola Avenue. — Sparks' Avenue, and 
Mammoth Dome. — Roaring River. — Marion's Avenue, 
and the Star Chamber 144 




Proctor's Arcade. — Kinney's Arena. — Wright's Rotunda. 
— Fairy Grotto. — The Chief City, and Great Crossings . 160 


Of Ancient Mummies found in the Cave . ^ . . 170 


Instances of Persons becoming Lost in the Cave. — The 
Proper Course to pursue in such Cases .... 195 



The Register Room. — Gothic Chapel.-^Romantic Mar- 
riage. — How the Stalactites and Stalagmites are 
tormed. — Bonaparte's Breastworks. — The Devil's Arm- 
Chair. — Elephant's Head. — Lover's Leap. — Gatewood's 
Dining-Table. — Napoleon's Dome. — Lake Purity. — Re- 
turn to Daylight 200 

Sanitary Influences of the Cave 209 

Parting Reflections 213 


Diamond Cave 217 

Proctor's Cave 222 


1. Gothic Cbapel ..... {Frontispiece) 

2. Eotrance to Long Route 64 

3. Deserted Chamber 65 

4. Bottomless Pit and Bridge of Sighs .... 67 

5. View from Bridge of Sighs C8 

6. Scotchman's Trap ........ 69 

7. Bacon Chamber . .71 

8. Grape Clusters in Martha's Vineyard .... 110 

9. Rosa's Bower 125 

ID. Angelico's Grotto 149 

11. The Altar, in Gothic Arcade 2u2 

12. Devil's Arm-Chair 205 



1. Gothic Chapel ..... [Frontispiece) 

2. Entrance to Long Route ...... 64 

.3. Deserted Chamber 65 

4. Bottomless Pit and Bridge of Sighs .... 67 

5. View from Bridge of Sighs 68 

6. Scotchman's Trap 69 

7. Bacon Chamber . .71 

8. Grape Clusters in Martha's Vineyard .... 110 

9. Rosa's Bower 125 

lU. Angelico's Grotto 149 

11. The Altar, in Gothic Arcade 2U2 

12. Devil's Arm-Chair 205 





It is our purpose to describe, from our own 
observations made in the spring of 1867, and 
from the observations of others, that grand and 
weird cavern known as the Mammoth Cave of 
Kentucky, — a wonder of its kind, unequaled in 
America or in the world, — within whose sub- 
lime portals travelers have confessed the most 
profound awe at entrance, and the greatest rap- 
ture when its glorious mysteries were made visi- 
ble to them. 

We did not make the visit with the view of 
informing the public what was to be seen, but 
simply for the purpose of gratifying our indi- 
vidual curiosity. 

Finding the object to be one of greater magni- 
tude than was anticipated, it occurred to us, as an 
after-thought, that a short sketch might interest 
a friend at home. In executing this intention, 

2 (13) 


it was soon discovered that a surprisiqg number 
of pages were required to give even a brief in- 
telligible outline of the great cavern. 

It was then suggested that the sketch which 
had been commenced sliould be extended, and 
published in book-form, that the information it 
contained might be accessible to the general 
public, instead of being restricted to one or two 
friends, as at first designed. This suggestion, 
though not consonant with our feelings when 
first proposed, has, upon reflection, been adopted. 

Desiring to obtain some profitable information 
in advance of our visit to the Cave, we applied 
successively to the principal booksellers in Bos- 
ton, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and 
Cincinnati for the purchase of a descriptive 
work, and were greatly surprised and disap- 
pointed by the answer in each case, — that not 
one of them had any publication on the sub- 
ject, neither had they any knowledge of the 
existence of such a work. This deficiency in 
the book-market appeared to us extraordinary, 
for it is presumable that all persons of any 
education in this country, and many abroad, 
have heard of the existence of the Cave, and 
are aware that it is a curiosity of more than 
ordinary importance; it is therefore a matter 


of astonishment that no general account of it 
can be obtained among the booksellers by those 
who are desirous of information regarding its 

Upon arriving at the Cave we found a small 
pamphlet for sale, entitled "A Guide Manual 
to the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky. By 
Charles W. Wright, M.D., Professor of Chem- 
istry in the Kentucky School of Medicine, 
formerly Professor of Chemistry in the Medical 
College of Ohio." Printed at Louisville, Ky., 
by Bradley & Gilbert, 1860. 

This manual explains very satisfactorily the 
chemical and mechanical causes which were 
exerted in the formation of the Cave, and 
briefly indicates all the chief points of interest 
which should attract the notice of the visitor 
in his explorations, and, we believe, is thor- 
oughly reliable in all these particulars. Its 
circulation, however, is limited to those who 
visit the Cave, rarely coming before the general 
reader ; and it is probable that the majority of 
visitors, as in our case, have no opportunity of 
examining and profiting by it until after their 
departure, and tlien it is generally thrown aside 
and forgotten. 

Since our visit we have made every effort to 


procure all that has been written on the subject, 
with the hope of thus making our account as 
complete as possible. We have, therefore, de- 
layed its publication for nearly three years. 

We have succeeded in obtaining four short 
articles, chiefly scientific, in as many different 
numbers of Silliman's "American Journal of 
Science and Arts," written by Professors Lock, 
Agassiz, Silliman, and Wyman, — the first dating 
back as far as 1842 ; also a rather lengthy 
description given by our great American trav- 
eler. Bayard Taylor, who charmingly invests 
every sketch of Nature's works touched by his 
pen with the glowing light of romance, so 
appropriate in this case. 

We have also found a copy of a manual 
called " Pictorial Guide to the Mammoth Cave, 
Kentucky. By the Rev. Horace Martin." New 
York : Stringer & Townsend, 1851 ; with ten 
illustrations, pp. (including blanks for notes) 
116, — long out of print. A brief article on 
the Cave, in a book entitled " The Hundred 
Wonders of the World," has recently been 
brought to our notice ; also an article in 
Collins's "History of Kentucky" (1847), and 
a few pages in Dr. Boucher's work on the 
Universe, etc., translated from the French, 


1870. The pamphlet of Dr. Binkerd ("The 
Mammoth Cave and its Denizens : A Complete 
Descriptive Guide. By A. D. Binkerd, M.D." 
Cincinnati : Robert Clarke & Co., Printers, 
1869. — Pamphlet, pp. 96) has appeared since 
the greater part of the present work has been 
in manuscript ; and in completing our materials 
for the press we are unable to derive any assist- 
ance from the work of Dr. Binkerd. 

Several newspaper articles, worthy of but 
little attention, have also come under our 

At the eleventh hour, since our manuscript 
was placed in the hands of the printers, we 
have succeeded, through the kindness of Mr. 
John R. Proctor, of Maysville, Ky., in procur- 
ing a copy of a work entitled " Rambles in the 
Mammoth Cave during the Year 1841. By a 
Visitor." Louisville, Ky.: Morton & Griswold, 

This list comprises all the works on the 
subject that we have any knowledge of, with 
the exception of one by Mr. Lee, Civil En- 
gineer, published about the year 1840, said to 
be of some value, but the most diligent search 
on our part has proved unsuccessful in finding a 

single copy. 



In preparing this history of the Mammoth 
Cave, we make as much use as possible of the 
materials just mentioned, collating their agree- 
ments and disagreements with our own obser- 
vations. We are chiefly indebted, however, to 
the valuable Manual of Professor Wright for all 
measurements and material facts, such as can 
be acquired only by a protracted series of obser- 
vations ; and we trust that this general an- 
nouncement of the authorities that we draw 
upon will serve us in many instances instead of 



In order that the reader may form, at the 
outset, some idea of the general outline and 
physical character of the Mammoth Cave, we 
will ask him to imagine the channel of a large 
and winding river, with tributaries at intervals, 
some of them the size of the main stream, 
emptying into the chief river, like, for instance, 
the Missouri and Ohio joining the Mississippi; 
these tributaries also receiving their support 
from creeks, branches, and rivulets, some of 
them quite small and extending but a short 
distance, while others are much larger, longer, 
and more beautiful. Now, it is easy to imagine 
these rivers as being under ground, or having 
a surface-covering of earth and rock, and that 
their rugged channels and banks have ceased, 
from some cause, to be bathed with the waters 
which, in ages long past, flowed so freely along 
them; in fact, that they are perfectly dry, except 
in a few of the avenues. 



By the aid of this illustration it may also be 
comprehended why so much travel' is neces- 
sary, as will be presently stated, to visit the 
different parts of the Cave. We are obliged to 
follow each tributary of the chief river to its 
source, and to return by the same route to its 
mouth, at the point of our departure; thus 
duplicating the distances of all the rivers, 
creeks, etc. 

It is exceedingly difficult to obtain informa- 
tion regarding the early history of the Cave, 
simply from the fact that it was not explored to 
any great extent for several years after its dis- 
covery, and that the early explorers did not 
regard it as a curiosity of sufficient importance 
to call for the publication of any detailed ac- 
count. It has been stated by Bayard Taylor,* 
and others, that the discovery of the Cave 
dated back as far as the year 1802 ; but we are 
fortunate in possessing a highly interesting and 
valuable letter from Mr. Frank Gorin, a former- 
proprietor of the Cave, addressed to the author 
some months after his visit, and, with permis- 
sion, hereto appended in full, which fixes the 
^date of the discovery in the year 1809. The 

* At Home and Abroad : A Sketch-Book of Life, Sceneiy, and 
Men. By Bayard Taylor. New York, G. P. Putnam & Son, 1867. 


letter contains several facts that will liere 
anticipate their regular order, and will again 
be adverted to : — 

" Glasgow, Ky., Feb. 9, 1868. 

" W. Stump Forwood, M.D 
" Dear Sir : 

" I am in receipt of yours of the 27th ultimo. 
You desire all the information I can give re- 
specting the date of the discovery, the early his- 
tory, the operations of the saltpetre miners, etc. 
of the Mammoth Cave. 

"This part of Kentucky was peopled and 
settled in the latter part of the eighteenth and 
early part of the nineteenth century. The 
Mammoth Cave is situated on the south side of 
Green Eiver, and not far from its banks. It 
was discovered in the year 1809, by a man 
named Houchins, by running a bear into it. 
The entrance was small, although there was a 
large ^sink' at the mouth. This is not the 
original mouth or entrance : the original mouth 
is about one-fourth of a mile north, or north- 
west, from the present entrance. It is a deep 
hole, perhaps fifty feet across at the top, and was 
doubtless the site, years, years ago, of one of 
those large springs so often found near the 
south bank of Green River. There is a spring 


at the present entrance of the Cave ; the water, 
no doubt, caused the falling of the roof, and 
closed up at that place the channel leading 
from the former mouth. 

"Very few persons know of the original 
'mouth,' as the Cave at its present mouth is 
filled up with rocks, dirt, etc. 

" When first discovered, the Cave was not 
considered of much value. It sold, with about 
two hundred acres of land, for. about forty 

" McLean, t believe, was the first person who 
attempted to make saltpetre there, perhaps in 
the year 1811. He sold to Gate wood, who en- 
larged the works. He, in turn, sold to Gratz 
& Wilkins (Gratz of Philadelphia, and Wilkins 
of Lexington, Ky.) ; they, during the War of 
1812, made large quantities of saltpetre, and 
wagoned it principally to Philadelphia. Their 
agent at the Cave was an Irish gentleman by 
the name of Archibald Miller. The work 
during the War of 1812 was mostly done by 
negroes, some of them working in the Cave 
without coming out for an entire year.* They 

* This is singular, as they were rarely ever more than one 
mile from the entrance. — W. S. F. 


came out healthy, and had a beautiful gloss, 
with shining faces and skins. 

"After the War of 1812-14 it was no longer 
profitable to make saltpetre at the Cave, on 
account of the importation of the East Indian 
article in the Eastern market, at rates much 
cheaper than it could be wagoned from the 

"When Messrs. Gratz & Wilkins ceased to 
make saltpetre, after having acquired sixteen 
hundred and ten acres of land over and around 
the Cave, they continued their faithful, true, 
and honest agent, Miller, to overlook and take 
care of the property and to show the Cave to 
the curious. About the year 1816, Mr. Miller 
placed the Cave and other property in the 
possession of his brother-in-law, Mr. Moore, and 
his wife, hoth Irish, of the old stock. Mr. Moore 
had been wealthy, and a large merchant in 
Philadelphia. Unfortunately, he was seduced 
into unlawful acts by Blennerhassett, the friend 
of Burr, and was pecuniarily ruined. The 
Moores left there some time afterward, when 
Gatewood took possession, and showed the 
Cave to all visitors for years; but it did not 
pay, and he left. 

"In 1837 I purchased the Cave and prop- 


erty, when it was in a dilapidated state, and 
placed Mrs. Moore there (Mr. M6ore having 
previously died), together with Archibald Mil- 
ler, her nephew, and son of the previous oc- 
cupant of the same name, as my agents. They 
were residing there when I sold the Cave and 
property to Dr. John Crogan,* who continued 
Mrs. Moore and Mr. Miller, Jr. in charge 
during their lives. Dr. Crogan devised the 
estate to Mr. Gwathmey and Judge J. R. 
Underwood, for the use of eleven nephews 
and nieces. Judge Underwood is the surviv- 
ing trustee, and is now managing the estate. 

" It was while I owned the property that a 
nephew of mine, Mr. Charles F. Harvey (now a 
merchant in Louisville, Ky.), was lost in the 
Cave for thirty-nine hours. After he was 
found, I determined to have further explora- 
tions made. At that time no person had ever 

* We remember having seen a statement in the newspapers, 
years ago, to the efifect that Dr. Crogan, while visiting objects 
of interest in Europe, was repeatedly asked for information 
regarding the Mammoth Cave; and, as the result of the mor- 
tification induced by his total ignorance of the subject, on his 
return home he visited the curiosity, and purchased the prop- 
erty, with the view of imparting more extended knowledge 
of this great American wonder to his countrymen and to travel- 
ers from other lands. — W. S. F. 


been beyond the ' Bottomless Pit.' We dis- 
covered ' Gorin's Dome,' covering nearly an 
acre of ground, and perhaps five hundred feet 

" I placed a gaide in the Cave, — the celebrated 
and great Stephen, — and he aided in making 
the discoveries. He was the first person who 
ever crossed the ' Bottomless Pit ;' and he, my- 
self, and another person, whose name I have 
forgotten, were the only persons ever at the 
bottom of ' Gorin's Dome,' to my knowledge. 

"After Stephen crossed the ' Bottomless Pit,' 
we discovered all that part of the Cave now 
known beyond that point. Previous to those 
discoveries, all interest centered in what is 
known as the ' Old Cave,' the chief points of 
attraction being the ' Star Chamber,' the 
' Cataract,' * The Chief City,' ' Robber's Cave,' 
' Lover's Leap,' ' Bonaparte's Breastworks/ 
' Gatewood's Dining Table,' ' Black Chambers,' 
' Grotto,' etc. etc.; but now many of these points 
are but little known, although, as Stephen was 

* Mr. Gorin, in a subsequent letter to the writer, states that 
possibly this estimate of the dimensions of the Dome is too 
great, as our own observations confirm ; but he believes that Dr. 
Wright's estimate, which we will hereafter give, is much below 
the actual measurements. — W. S. F. 


wont to say, they were 'grand, gloomy, and 

" Many attempted descriptions of the Cave 
have been published in the newspapers ; and 
several pamphlet publications have been made ; 
but I know of none now existing. Many of 
the newspaper articles were utterly false. 

" Stephen was a self-educated man ; he had 
a fine genius, a great fund of wit and humor, 
some little knowledge of Latin and Greek, and 
much knowledge of geology ; but his great 
talent was a perfect knowledge of man.* 

" I have been compelled to write you this 
letter in great haste, but you may rely upon 
the facts as stated. 

" Yours truly, 

" F."^ GORIN." 

* It has been said that Stephen was partly of Indian ex- 
traction. In reply to a subsequent letter addressed to Mr. 
Gorin, on this and other points, he remarks, " There was not 
any Indian blood in Stephen's veins. I knew his reputed father, 
who was a white man. I owned Stephen's mother and brother, 
but not until after both of the children were born. Stephen was 
certainly a very extraordinary boy and man. His talents were of 
the first order. He was trustworthy and reliable ; he was com- 
panionable ; he was a hero, and could be a clown. He knew a 
gentleman or a lady as if by instinct. He learned whatever he 
wished, without trouble or labor ; and it is said that a late pro- 
fessor of geology spoke highly of his knowledge in that depart- 
ment of science." 


From data that we have obtained from 
various sources, we learn that the " Bottomless 
Pit" was not crossed, nor the great curiosities 
beyond dreamed of, for about thirty years after 
what is called the " Main Cave" had been 
explored. Indeed, it is known that many 
avenues, with their hidden treasures, have not 
to the present day been trodden by mortal 
footsteps. So much has already been explored 
that curiosity appears to be satiated. 

It is said that about one hundred and fifty 
miles of travel is required to visit the parts of 
the Cave that have already been traversed; and 
we were informed by the guides that avenues 
were known to them which would probably 
increase the extent of travel to two hundred 

* Since the foregoing was penned, we have been informed by 
the proprietor of the Cave Hotel, Mr. L. J. Proctor, in a letter 
dated March 12, 1870, that " Two years ago three of the guides 
at the Cave, Messrs. F. M. De Monbrum and Charles and A. Mer- 
ideth, discovered a new avenue in the Mammoth Cave, branching 
off from the Pass of El Ghor, just beyond Ole Bull's Concert 
Room. They first entered a narrow crevice, through which they 
passed some seventy yards, when they entered a large cave, 
which they explored for many miles, and from which many 
branching avenues led off, which they did not explore. They de- 
scribe this newly-discovered avenue as extremely grand, and in 
many places beautiful. They crossed a large, and as yet unex- 



plored, river, and found that the main avenue terminated in a 
dome more extensive than any that they had ever seen. What was 
beyond this dome they could not conjecture, as they were unable 
to enter it from the avenue. They estimate that they traveled 
eight miles in this one avenue. I have not seen it myself. The 
explored portions of the Cave that I have visited constitute 
within themselves an under-ground world ; and I am satisfied that I 
have traveled from 150 to 200 miles in the different avenues, upon 
the Long Route especially. There is a perfect wilderness of Cave 
that is never seen or dreamed of by visitors generally, and many 
parts more beautiful than those ordinarily seen by parties making 
the Long Route. I refer particularly to Marion's Avenue, Ali- 
da's Avenue, Murdock's Pass, and out Boone's Avenue and the 
regions of Mystic River." 



The Mammoth Cave is situated in Edmonson 
County, in the southern part of Kentucky. 

It is most readily approached from the North 
by way of Louisville, by the Louisville & Nash- 
ville Railroad, which has long since super- 
seded the old stage-coaches. The distance from 
Louisville is about ninety-five miles, or about 
one-half the distance between that city and 

The station at which passengers left the rail- 
road at the time of our visit is called Cave City, 
a point about ten miles from the Cave. 

Visitors from the South come by way of Nash- 
ville to the same point. The high-sounding 
name of " City," as applied to this place, re- 
minded us forcibly of the vest of the hero of 
the comic song, which, he snid, — 

.3* ( 29 ) 


" was big euough for two ; 
But there is nothing strange in that,^ 
For the tailor saw, without a doubt, 
I some day would grow fat !" 

This "City" consists of about a dozen ordi- 
nary-looking houses; but, possessing an ample 
title in advance, it may be presumed that it will 
some day grow large. 

The hotel from which the stage-coach line 
starts is small, but the traveler is very comfort- 
ably entertained.* 

We were conveyed from this "City" to the 
Cave in coaches, the distance being, as before 
stated, about ten miles, — by some estimated at 
nine, and by others at eleven. •]- 

The surface of the country over which this 
road passes is high, hilly, rocky, and the soil of 
an apparently poor quality. It is interesting to 
note the surface-aj)pearance along the route, for 
the reason that, for some distance, this road is 

* Since the above was written, we regret to learn that this little 
city was, on January 17, 1870, almost totally destroyed by a tor- 
nado, during which several of the inhabitants lost their lives. 

t We have recently noticed in the newspapers that, to the great 
comfort and convenience of visitors, horse-cars have been substi- 
tuted for the stage-coaches on the route from Cave City to the 
Cave ; but our inquiries, addressed to parties in the neighborhood 
for a confirmation of this report, have not yet (April 1, 1870) 
been replied to. 


supposed to pass directly over a considerable 
portion of the Cave. At the date of our journey 
— the latter part of May — this road was* in a 
comparatively good condition ; but in the winter 
and early part of the spring it is said to be al- 
most impassable to travelers. The greater part 
of the soil is a light-colored, sticky clay, with 
a little sand at intervals. The rocks are com- 
posed chiefly of soft white limestone, easily 
acted upon by chemical and mechanical agen- 
cies; hence we find them excavated and jag- 
ged, presenting rough, irregular outlines; their 
outside color is of a dirty, grayish character, 
owing to exposure to the elements, but the inte- 
rior is white. 

There are small cultivated patches of ground 
here and there, scarcely deserving the name of 
farms. The country generally is covered with 
straggling forests, consisting chiefly of "black- 
jack," white oak, chestnut, etc. Frequently 
along the road may be seen small circular de- 
pressions in the ground, called '' sinks," the 
surface having fallen in in consequence of sub- 
terraneous excavation. The whole of the sur- 
rounding country appears to be of a cavernous 
nature ; and, if the traveler should be so unfor- 
tunate as to possess a timid disposition or large 


development of caution, he might be .apprehen- 
sive of a sudden disappearance of the stage- 
coach into the bowels of the earth. 

There are several caves in this vicinity, 
— namely, Proctor's Cave, aboul: three miles in 
length ; White's Cave, Diamond Cave, and the 
Indian Cave, each of which is about one mile 
in length. 

The Indian Cave opens directly on the stage- 
route ; and, as the coaches halt sufficiently long 
to give visitors an opportunity of examining it, 
we embraced the occasion for preparing our 
senses, in this minor cave, for witnessing the 
stupendous curiosities yet in store for us. An 
exceedingly loquacious young man acted as our 
guide. He stated that he discovered the Cave 
himself, six years previously, and was joint 
proprietor with his father, who lived near by. 

The ingress to this Cave is quite difficult. 
The descent from the road to the mouth of the 
Cave is almost perpendicular, and the distance 
is about one hundred feet. The mouth itself 
consists of a circular passage about three feet in 
diameter, and eight feet deep. The descent is 
made at this point by the aid of rude wooden 
steps. In answer to an inquiry why greater 
conveniences for entrance were not provided, we 


received the unsatisfactory reply that he did not 
wish to disturb the original appearances of nature. 

Upon reaching the foot of the ladder, we 
found ourselves in an open space, somewhat 
higher than a man's head, and about ten or 
fifteen feet wide. 

This cave apparently extends in nearly a 
direct line. We say apparently, for it is impos- 
sible for an individual who enters a dark hole 
under ground, for the first time, to form a cor- 
rect idea of direction or distance. 

The length of this cave, as before remarked, 
is about one mile. The floor being compara- 
tively smooth, and nearly level, there was but 
little fatigue attending the exploration. 

There is a considerable number of very hand- 
/some stalactites and stalagmites to be seen in 
this Cave, the beauty of which will fully repay 
\lhe visitor for the time thus occupied. 
y^ne of the chief curiosities of the Indian 
(Cave is the Pool of Bethesda. It is a fountain 
of pure, limpid water, about four feet in diameter, 
and nearly circular in form, and is mantled 
around with delicate, coral-like formation stalag- 
mites, giving it the appearance of a rustic work 
of art. We partook freely of the water, and 
found it agreeable to the palate. 


Another point of interest is Aline's Dome, 
said to be named for Miss Aline Dii Pont, who, 
we were told, was the first lady-visitor to this 
Cave. This dome is not of large proportions, 
but displays more than ordinary beauty, being 
surrounded by what is known as Elphies's group 
of stalactites. 

There are several other parts of the Cave 
having fanciful names, possessing more or less 
interest, but they did not impress us sufficiently 
to be remembered. 

We inquired of our guide why the name 
"Indian" had been applied to the Cave. He 
stated that the name was suggested by the fact 
that, upon his first entrance within the Cave, 
he discovered several Indian skeletons. Upon 
manifesting our curiosity to see them, he in- 
formed us that, in consequence of the bones 
having, on different occasions, been sacrilegiously 
handled by some of the visitors, — even to carry- 
ing them out and leaving them exposed upon 
the ground, — he considered it his Christian duty 
to deposit them in a place where they would 
escape further desecration ; he then pointed out 
to us a deep pit in the Cave, into the invisible 
depths of which he had thrown them. Visitors 
may take this explanation as fact or fancy. 


according to the amount of credulity they pos- 
sess : in either case, their interest in the Cave 
need not be lessened. 

We re-entered the coaches, and, after a ride of 
about five miles, reached the Mammoth Cave 
Hotel, about five o'clock in the afternoon. An 
exceedingly disagreeable, drizzling rain was fall- 
ing ; and although we were in the southern part 
of Kentucky, in the latter half of May, we 
found the atmosphere so chilly as to require the 
use of fires in our rooms. 

For the benefit of the Cave visitors of the 
present day, it is proper to add, in this place, 
that we have recently (1870) received a com- 
munication from Mr. Proctor, of the Cave 
Hotel, in which he states that Glasgow Junc- 
tion, as a stopping-place, on the Louisville & 
Nashville Railroad, for parties visiting the 
Cave, has various advantages over Cave City : 
first, it is about three miles nearer the Cave 
(being but seven miles distant) ; second, an 
excellent stage-road has been recently made 
between the points ; and, third, immediately 
upon this route lie the Diamond and Proctor 
Caves, both of which are exceedingly beautiful 
and interesting. 

With the view of gaining time, some of our 


party were anxious to enter the vCave on the 
night of our arrival, — thinking that it was a 
matter of little consequence whether it was day 
or night on the outside, knowing that perpetual 
night reigned within. It was soon ascertained, 
however, that parties were not permitted to 
enter except at stated hours, — at nine and at 
half-past nine o'clock in the morning, — accord- 
ing to the route taken. This system was ex- 
plained as being necessary for the benefit of the 
guides, and for the proper regulation of the 
hotel arransjements. 

A guide who had been journeying through 
the Cave all the day of course would not feel 
willing to continue his travels through the night 
also. Physical exhaustion, if no other consider- 
ation, would render such a procedure imprac- 
ticable. Our own experience afterward enabled 
us to appreciate the force of the latter argument. 
An additional number of guides, undoubtedly, 
might be kept, but their services would be so 
rarely required that the proprietors do not feel 
justified in incurring the extra expense. 

This delay gave us an opportunity of taking 
a survey of the premises. 

The Cave Hotel is large and commodious. 
It is built in the Southern style, with wide 


verandas, is amply ventilated, and is said to 
be capable of accommodating between four and 
five hundred guests at a time. The rooms are 
of sufficient size, and are very well furnished. 
The table is really deserving of praise, for it is 
supplied with the best quality of excellently- 
cooked food, and is accommodatingly attended 
by experienced negro waiters. A large ball- 
room is united with the hotel,' and is fitted up 
with all the conveniences required by those who 
pay court at the shrine of Terpsichore. Con- 
nected with the main building, and running at 
right angles with its front, is a long row of cot- 
tages, with a -continuous veranda, extending at 
least three hundred feet. 

In speaking upon this point, Bayard Taylor 
remarks, " The main body of the hotel, with 
this wing, furnishes at least six hundred feet 
of portico, forming one of the most delightful 
promenades imaginable for summer weather." 

About one hundred yards beyond the ex- 
treme end of the cottages, well shaded by forest 
trees, may be seen the remains of a tenpin- 
alley building. This went down during the 
war; and, as the proprietors suffered so severely 
from the entire loss of business during those four 
or five gloomy years, it has not yet been rebuilt. 



Other marks of dilapidation are also apparent, 
from the same cause; but as the return-tide of 
visitors Segins to flow, with its attendant pros- 
perity, evidences of restoration are visible. 

The building and the surrounding grounds 
are in marked contrast with those seen by the 
way from Cave City. The visitor is surprised 
to find in this uncultivated "backwoods" such 
a large and cheerful-looking dwelling and so 
handsome a lawn. The lawn comprises about 
two acres of ground, is laid out with gravel 
walks, and is tastefully ornamented with cedar 
and other trees. 

There* are not many summer resorts where 
an individual or a family can pass a few weeks 
more pleasantly or more profitably than at the 
Mammoth Cave Hotel. Here are to be found 
all the advantages of a first-class watering-place 
hotel, with the addition of fine country scenery, 
and daily opportunities of observing Nature's 
great subterranean wonder. 

In the yard, immediately in front of the main 
building, stands a very curious-looking sand- 
stone rock, about three and a half feet square. 
One side of the rock has a regular surface which 
is covered with perforations similar in size and 
shape (though more widely separated) to the 


openings in the ordinary cane-seated chair, about 
half an inch in depth, and arranged in regular 
lines. This rock, we are informed, was exca- 
vated near the Cave about twenty years ago. 
No explanation was offered as to the probable 
cause of the perforations, but we were left to 
infer, from their perfect regularity, that they 
were produced by human agency. Perhaps some 
rude Indian artist, hundreds of years ago, is 
entitled to the credit of exciting our curiosity 
at the present day. 

We learned at the hotel that the Mammoth 
Cave and the Cave Hotel belonged jointly to 
nine or ten parties, to whom it had been devised 
by its former proprietor. Dr. Crogan, for a period 
of ninety-nine years. Only about twenty-five 
years of the time have yet expired. 

It seems to be regarded by the public as an 
unfortunate disposition of the property, that so 
many parties should be concerned in the owner- 
ship. Owing to their diverse views, the Cave 
travel is not so easy nor so agreeable to visitors 
as it might be made with trifling expenditure. 
It is said that some of the proprietors are 
anxious to do one thing, some another, and 
some nothing. Being unable to agree, nothing 
is done; and visitors are compelled to undergo 


much rough and fatiguing travel within the 
Cave, over loose rocks, etc., which might be ren- 
dered, at small expense, comparatively smooth. 
Hand-cars might be introduced and easily made 
available over more than half the Long Route, 
stopping as frequently as the curiosity of the 
visitor might require in making his observa- 

Green River, with its towering cliffs, is but a 
few hundred yards from the hotel. 

Bayard Taylor, upon first beholding this beau- 
tiful river, at the time of his visit to the Cave, 
sixteen years ago, was struck by the appropri- 
ateness of the lines of Bryant, which were 
applied, strange to say, to another river of the 
same name : 

"Yet, fair as thou art, thou shunnest to glide, 
Beautiful stream ! by the village side, 
But windest away from haunts of men, 
To silent valley and shaded glen." 

It has been conclusively proven, by careful 
observations, that the rivers of the Cave have a 
subterraneous communication with Green River. 

The entrance of the Cave is about one-fourth 
of a mile from the hotel, and is reached by pass- 
ing down a wild, rocky ravine through a dense 
forest, — a fitting avenue to the hidden world. 


The opening surrounding the mouth of the 
Cave is irregularly funnel-shaped ; the walls 
being steep, and forty or fifty feet in height, 
and between fifty and one hundred feet across 
the top of the funnel. 

"Trees," says Taylor, "grow around the edges 
of the pit, almost roofing it with shade ; ferns 
and tangled vines fringe its sides; and a slender 
stream of water falls from the rocks which arch 
above the entrance, dropping like a silver veil 
before the mysterious darkness beyond." 

At nearly all seasons a mist or fog may be 
seen hanging over the mouth of the Cave. 

When the.external air is warmer than that of 
the Cave, the mist is produced by the condensa- 
tion of the moisture of the former by the 
reduced temperature of the latter. On the 
contrary, if the temperature of the external 
atmosphere is lower than that of the Cave, the 
moisture of the air of the latter is condensed in 
a similar manner. 

When the temperature of the outer air is the 
same as that of the Cave, no fog or cloud is 
observable about its mouth. 

The entrance of the Mammoth Cave, at an 
early period of its history, as has already been 
stated by Mr. Gorin, was situated about half a 



mile from its present location, constituting what 
is now called Dickson's Cave. 

This Cave terminates within a few feet of the 
mouth of Mammoth Cave, but there is at present 
no direct communication between the two. 
The voice of a person at the end of Dickson's 
Cave can be distinctly heard at the entrance of 
Mammoth Cave. 

The present entrance to Mammoth Cave was 
formed, and its communication with Dickson's 
Cave cut off, by the disintegrating action of the 
water of the spring, which discharges its , con- 
tents at the mouth of the former, and caused the 
Cave to fail in at this point, — thus establishing 
a new entrance, and shortening the length of 
the Cave about half a mile. This is also the 
theory put forth by Dr. Wright, and there seems 
to be no reason for questioning its correctness. 

Dickson's Cave differs but little in size and 
appearance from Proctor's Arcade in the Mam- 
moth Cave. 



As the circulation of the air, its temperature, 
purity, etc., in the Cave, are subjects upon which 
we are frequently interrogated, and which pos- 
sess great interest to all anticipating a visit, we 
proceed to give the explanation of these points 
in the words of Dr. Wright, who thus treats 
of what he very properly terms the respiration 
of the cave. « 

The Mammoth Cave breathes once a year. 
That is to say, in summer, or when the tempera- 
ture of the external air is above that of the 
Cave, the current sets from the latter to the 
former. In other words, the Cave is the entire 
summer in making an expiration. On the other 
hand, when the order is reversed, or the tem- 
perature of the outer atmosphere is below fifty- 
nine degrees, the Cave makes an inspiration, 
or draws in its breath, which it accomplishes 
during the winter. The respiratory mechanism 
of the Cave ceases to operate — or, to carry out 



the metaphor, it holds its breath-r-when the 
mercury in the thermometer stands at fifty-nine 
degrees in the outer air, which is the average 
temperature of all parts of the cave, winter and 
summer. Hence it is frequently observed, in 
the spring and fall, that there is no motion of 
the air in either direction at the mouth of the 

On entering the Cave a few hundred yards in 
summer, when the temperature outside is at or 
near one hundred degrees, the air rushes out 
with such force as frequently to extinguish the 
lamps. Passing into the Cave for about half a 
mile, however, the motion of the air is barely 
perceptible at any. time, from the fact that the 
main avenue enlarges so rapidly that it plays 
the part of a reservoir, where a current of air, 
from any direction, is speedily neutralized. If 
the current of air blows from without inward, 
and is below fifty-nine degrees, it does not pass 
more than a quarter of a mile before it is 
brought up to that point. Air above the 
average temperature of the Cave never blows 
' into it. 

.Thus it will be observed that a change of 
seasons is unknown in the Mammoth Cave ; 
and day and night, morning and evening, have 


no existence in this subterranean world. In 
fact, there is an eternal sameness here, which is 
without a parallel. 

In many parts of the Cave, time itself is not 
an element of change; for where there is no 
variation of the temperature, no water, and no 
light, the three great forces of geological trans- 
formation cease to operate. 

The atmosphere of the Cave, contrary to 
what might be generally supposed, is remark- 
ably pure and wholesome. 

The proportions of oxygen and nitrogen bear 
the same relation to each other in the Mam- 
moth Cave that they do in the external air. 
The proportion of carbonic acid gas is less than 
that observed in the atmosphere in the sur- 
rounding country, upon an average of many 
observations. This noxious gas is one of the 
necessary constituents of vegetable existence ; 
and, as there is no vegetable life within the 
Cave, its comparative absence is a natural in- 

In the dry parts of the Cave the proportion 
of carbonic acid is said to be about 2 to 10,000 
of air ; in the vicinity of the rivers, something 
less. Not a trace of ammonia can be detected 
in those parts of the Cave not commonly visited. 


The amount of the vapor of water varies. Thus, 
in those avenues at a great distance from the 
rivers, upon the walls and floors of which there 
is a deposit of the nitrate of lime, the air is 
almost entirely destitute of moisture, from the 
hygroscopic properties of that salt ; and animal 
matter mummifies instead of undergoing putre- 
factive decomposition. For the same reason, no 
matter what state of division the disintegrated 
rock may attain, dust never rises. In portions of 
the Cave remote from the localities in which the 
bats hibernate, no organic matter can be recog- 
nized by the most delicate tests. Not a trace of 
ozone can be detected by the most sensitive re- 

From what has been stated, it will be ob- 
served that the atmosphere of the Mammoth 
Cave is freer from those substances which are 
calculated to exert a depressing and septic in- 
fluence on the animal economy than that of any 
other locality on the globe. This great differ- 
ence is observed by every one on leaving the 
Cave, after having remained in it for a number 
of hours. 

In such instances, the impurity of the external 
air is almost insufferably offensive to the sense of 
smell, and the romance of a "pure country air" 
is forever dissipated. 


The only instance that history (possibly ro- 
mance) records, so for as is known to the writer, 
in which these disagreeable effects of the ordi- 
nary atmosphere were markedly produced, wa3 
in the case of the unhappy Caspar Hauser, who 
was confined in a subterranean dungeon at Nu- 
remberg from infancy to adult age. When he 
was finally brought upon the surface of the 
earth, his life was rendered miserable by the 
insufferable odors that constantly impressed his 
olfactory nerves. The smell of flowers, that to 
others were sweet, was so intensified in his case 
as to be exceedingly disagreeable. He was 
unable to pass a grave-yard, where others could 
detect no odor whatever, without fainting from 
the painful impression received through the 
sense of smell. This shows that, to appreciate 
" country air," our senses must be adapted to it 
by constant contact. 



Before entering the Cave, it will be proper 
for us to consider the agencies concerned in its 
formation. These may be divided into chemical 
and mechanical. We strictly follow the words 
of Dr. Wright in these explanations, knowing 
that his education in this particular, and his op- 
portunities for observation, eminently qualify 
him for giving correct views on the subject. 

Of the chemical agencies, which were un- 
doubtedly the most remarkable and important, 
he says, " There can be no doubt but that the 
solvent action of water holding carbonic acid in 
solution was the primary agency concerned in 
the formation of the Cave. Thus the limestone, 
or carbonate of lime, which constitutes the strata 
of rock through which the Cave runs, is not sol- 
uble in water until it combines with an addi- 
tional proportion of carbonic acid, by which it is 
transformed into the bicarbonate of lime. In thi.s 
( 48 ) 


way the process of excavation was conducted, 
until communications were established with run- 
ning water, Jby which the mechanical agency of 
that fluid was made to assist the chemical. The 
little niches and recesses which are observed in 
various parts of the Cave, and which seem to 
have been chiseled out and 'polished by artificial 
means, were formed in this manner ; for when 
these points are closely examined, a crevice will 
be observed at the top or back of them, through 
which water issued at the time of their forma- 
tion, but which has been partially closed by crys- 
tals of carbonate of lime or gypsum. At the 
time these niches were forming, water flowed 
through the avenues in which they are found. 
Examples of the action we have been describing 
may be seen in Sparks' Avenue, leading to the 
Mammoth Dome. 

"The grooves which are observed in rock over 
which water is or has been flowing are also 
formed by the solvent action of water contain- 
ing carbonic acid ; for in all such instances the 
water has no solid matter in suspension. Ex-^ 
amples of this kind of action may be seen in 
operation in Mammoth and Gorin's Domes ; and 
evidences of its former action may be observed 
in Lucy's Dome. What are termed the ' pigeon- 



holes' in the Main Cave are cut out^of the solid 
rock in the same manner. 

"Another agency which contributes in part to 
change the appearance of the Cave is the efflo- 
rescence of the sulphate of soda, or glauber-salts, 
and the crystallization of sulphate of lime, or 
plaster of Paris. 

"The sulphate of lime, which is known under 
the names of gypsum, plaster of Paris, selenite, 
alabaster, etc., exerts a much greater influence 
in disintegrating rock than the sulphate of soda. 
The avenues in which gypsum occurs are per- 
fectly dry, differing in that respect from those 
that contain stalactites. When rosettes of ala- 
baster are formed in the same avenue with sta- 
lactites, the water which formed the latter has 
for ages ceased to flow, or they are situated far 
apart, as the former cannot form in a damp at- 
mosphere. The force exerted by gypsum in the 
act of crystallizing is about equal to that of water 
when freezing, and when it crystallizes between 
ledges of rock, they are fractured in every direc- 
tion, as instanced in Pensacola Avenue and 
Rhoda's Arcade. 

" The formation of nitre is due, in part, to the 
decomposition of bats and other animals ; but it 
must not be forgotten that limestone rocks are 


never entirely destitute of nitrifiable matter. 
The nitric acid which enters into its composition 
may, in some measure, be derived from the at- 
mosphere. The kind of nitre that is found in 
the Cave is the nitrate of lime, which, when re- 
acted upon by the carbonate of potash, is trans- 
formed into the nitrate of potash, or common 
saltpetre. This was the course pursued by the 
saltpetre miners when that substance was manu- 
factured in the Cave in 1812-14. The nitrate of 
lime is found in the dryer parts of the Cave, 
but is not discoverable till the earth which con- 
tains it is lixiviated. 

" The mechanical agencies concerned in the 
excavation of the Mammoth Cave are trifling 
when compared with the chemical. They are 
instanced in the transportation of gravel, sand, 
and clay from one part of the Cave to another, 
and in the abraded appearances presented by 
the rock composing certain avenues. Thus, it is 
possible to tell the direction in which the water 
ran in most of the avenues, and the rapidity of 
its motion, by observing the points at which 
gravel, sand, and clay are deposited, and the 
order in which they come. For example, the 
points at which gravel is deposited indicate a 
rapid current; where sand is found, the move- 


ment was slower; and where clay occurs, the 
water was almost or quite stationary. 

"At one time the water rushed with great force 
through Fat Man's Misery, for in Great Relief, 
which is just beyond, washed gravel occurs ; 
still farther, sand is found, which is succeeded 
by clay : showing that the current was in the 
direction of Echo River, Before the mechanical 
agency could have exerted any appreciable influ- 
ence, the chemical must have been in operation 
for thousands of ages. 

"The loose rocks that are scattered on the 
floors of many of the avenues have fallen from 
the walls and ceiling, but in many instances the 
points from which they were detached are indis- 
tinct, from the fact that the rugged surface from 
which they have fallen is either smoothed by 
the action of water, or covered by crystals of 
the carbonate or sulphate of lime. 

"In those parts of the Cave where no rocks 
have fallen, the floor presents the appearance of 
the bed of a river, and is covered with gravel, 
sand, or clay, according to the rapidity of th6 
flow of the water at the time of the deposit. 

" Visitors need feel no apprehension or alarm 
in reference to falling rocks, for none have fallen 
since the discovery of the Cave." 


It may be well in this place to refer to the 
interesting relation subsisting between Mam- 
moth Cave and Green River. There can be no 
.doubt that Green River has cut out the bed or 
channel through which it runs ; for on ascend- 
ing its banks on either side for a distance of not 
less than three hundred feet, a plain is reached, 
which is not succeeded by a valley ; establishing 
conclusively that it has worn its bed to its pres- 
ent level by the mechanical and chemical 
agency of water, and that the avenues of the 
Cave were cut through with nearly equal pace, — 
those near the surface of the earth being formed 
first, and the others in regular order from above 
downward ; the avenues through which Echo 
and Roaring Rivers run being the lowest and 
last formed. Both of these rivers are on a level 
with Green River, with which there is, as before 
stated, a subterraneous communication. As 
Green River continues to deepen the valley 
through which it passes, the avenues of the 
Cave will continue to descend, until the springs 
which supply Echo and Roaring Rivers cease to 
flow, when the avenues through which they run 
will become as dry as Marion's Avenue, which, 
at an early period in the history of the Cave, con- 




tained the most beautiful subterranean river in 
the world. 

With these preliminary details, which we con- 
sider essential to a proper understanding or an 
intelligent appreciation of the curiosities of the 
Cave, we will proceed to conduct the reader 
within its portals. 



The Entrance. — The Rotunda. — The Vats and Water-pipes 
used by the Saltpetre Miners. — The Methodist Church. — The 
Giant's Coffin.— The Bottomless Pit.— Fat Man's Misery. — 
Bacon Chamber. — River Styx and Lake Lethe. 

On the morning succeeding our arrival at the 
Cave Hotel, our party, consisting of fifteen per- 
sons, seven of the number being ladies, fully 
equipped in Cave costume,* left the house at 
nine o'clock precisely, to explore what is known 
as the " Long Route," which terminates at the 

Our party being large, and one or two of the 

* For the information of the uninitiated, we will explain that 
the costumes referred to are kept at the hotel for the use of the 
visitors. It is necessary for its greater convenience in threading 
narrow passages, and for the equally important object of pre- 
serving from damage more expensive clothing. Ladies are pro- 
vided with short dresses of stout material, generally of fancy and 
picturesque colors, without the addition of crinoline. Gentlemen 
have short woolen jackets, caps, and " over-alls." Many jocular 
remarks are usually made by parties, thus oddly attired, at each 
other's expense. 



number being in somewhat feeble health from 
recent indisposition, we deemed it prudent to 
employ two guides to accompany us, so that one 
of them might return from any point with such 
parties as might become either unable or unwill- 
ing to proceed, while the other could conduct 
those who wished to continue the journey. 
This proved to be a wise precaution, as one or 
two of the ladies became too much fatigued to 
be able to complete more than about two-thirds 
of the route. 

The present guides at the Cave are white 
men ; and the chief one in charge of our party, 
Mr. Charles Merideth, is a man of considerable 
intelligence, is well versed in all matters pertain- 
ing to the Cave, and, in common with the other 
guides, is fully qualified for the performance c£ 
the duties of his important oflBce. 

The guidance through the Cave was formerly 
under the charge of colored men. Several of 
them — Stephen, Alfred, and Mat — attained great 
celebrity in this capacity; and all former visitors 
remember these names as a part of their Cave 

Stephen, who was particularly famed for his 
qualifications in this respect, as has been seen in 
Mr. Gorin's remarks, after a long and honorable 


career in exhibiting and explaining the curi- 
osities of the Cave, with which his name has 
become identified, to thousands of delighted 
visitor's, departed this life about eleven years 

Alfred is also dead. " Old Mat," as he is 
familiarly called, who has trodden the dark and 
mysterious paths of the Cave for more than 
thirty years, still lives, and may be seen about 
the hotel, but is no longer . on duty, yet he 
thinks he is quite as capable of exhibiting the 
Cave now as he ever was, and believes that he 
possesses more knowledge regarding it than any 
one else. 

From the hotel we passed down the deep 
ravine through the native forest, before men- 
tioned, along the rugged pathway. The pre- 
cipitous and rocky character of the path, 
however, was not particularly observed until 
our return at night. We then began to wonder 
if some freak of nature had not occurred in our 
absence to cause the picturesque and rather 
easy-graded path of the morning to present a 
nearly perpendicular front, every small stone 
that lay in the way to attain the proportions of 
an insurmountable rock, and the fourth of a mile 
that we had passed so easily and so pleasantly 


in the morning to be lengthened out to at least 
three times that distance ! Then we were ready 
to exclaim, " 0, for a horse !" 

Upon reaching the entrance, which we (Jo by 
descending the steep bank leading to it by 
means of rough stone steps, the guides im- 
mediately proceed to light the lamps, which 
are kept within the mouth of the Cave for the 
use of visitors. 

Proceeding a few steps, each with lamp in 
hand, we plunged into almost total darkness, 
our aids to sight appearing to afford but little 
light to our unaccustomed eyes. We were 
ready to despair of ever getting a view of the 
beauties of the Cave with such limited means 
of illumination. But in a few moments, our 
pupils having had time to expand, and adapt 
themselves to the sudden change from light 
to darkness, we were gratified to discover that 
we could obtain a very satisfactory view of the 
dark interior. 

Upon entering the Cave for the first time, we 
feel the force of the words of Dante : 

" Who enters here leaves hope behind." 

This is literally true, but not, however, in the 
terrible sense implied by the poet. We not 


only leave hope, but we leave care and sorrow 
and all the feelings that make up the sum of 
our mundane existence, in the world behind us. 
We really enter a new phase of life. We 
forget, for a time, the life we have lived before. 
Here we find no objects of comparison, — nothing 
to remind us of our pre-existence. It is worth 
a visit to the Cave to experience these new and 
extraordinary sensations. 

We first enter a small archway at the mouth 
of the Cave, called the Narrows. The sides are 
walled up with rock, which the saltpetre manu- 
facturers removed from the floor at this point to 
allow of easy ingress. 

After leaving the Narrows, the ceiling of which 
is about seven feet high, and which does not pos- 
sess any special interest, the Rotunda is entered. 

The Rotunda is said to be situated immedi- 
ately under the dining-room of the Cave Hotel. 
The ceiling of the Rotunda is about one hun- 
dred feet high, and its greatest diameter is one 
hundred and seventy-five feet. 

The floor is strewn with the remains of vats, 
water-pipes, and other materials used by the 
'saltpetre miners in 1812. The wood of which 
they are made is in a remarkable state of pres- 


To the right of the Rotunda, Audubon's Ave- 
nue leads off for about half a mile, to a collec- 
tion of stalactites. During the winter, millions 
of bats hibernate in this avenue. At the en- 
trance of Audubon's Avenue several small cot- 
tages, which were built for the residence of per- 
sons afflicted with consumption, are still to be 

On leaving the Rotunda and passing the huge 
overhanging cliffs to the left, which are called 
the Kentucky River Cliffs, from their close re- 
semblance to the cliffs of that river, the Meth- 
odist Church is entered. This apartment is 
eighty feet in diameter, by about forty in height. 
Here, we are told, from the gallery or pulpit, 
which consists of a ledge of rocks twenty-five 
feet in height, the Gospel was expounded more 
than fifty years ago. The logs used as benches 
occupy the same position which they did when 
first placed in the church. 

It is customary for visitors to leave their 
shawls or overcoats, if required outside, tit this 
point, there being no variation of temperature 

Next in order is " Wandering Willie's Spring," 
a beautifully-fluted niche in the left-hand wall, 
caused by the continual attrition of water trick- 


ling down into a basin below. This spring is 
said to have derived its name from an eccentric 
young country violinist, who, in the spirit of ro- 
mance, assumed the name of Wandering Willie. 
He became separated from his companions while 
within the Cave, had his lamp extinguished, and 
was found lying asleep beside the spring. This 
spring is about half a mile from the entrance of 
the Cave 

We pass the Gothic Galleries, which lead to 
Gothic Avenue, of which we shall have occasion 
to speak hereafter, and the Grand Arch is en- 
tered, which leads to the Giant's Cofhn. This 
arch is about fifty feet high and sixty wide. 

The Standing Rocks are found to the left of 
the path ; they are many tons in weight, and 
have evidently fallen from above, standing with 
the base upwards, extending eight or ten feet 
above the floor. They maintain their upright 
position from the fact that the earth was pene- 
trated in the fall while in a soft state.. The 
avenue, however, has been perfectly dry since 
its first discovery. 

A short distance beyond, on the right, the 
guide bids us stop, and asks what we see before 
us. We"" hold up our lamps, and all cry out 
simultaneously, in an awe-struck tone, "A cof- 



fin !" We are then informed that we behold 
the Giant's Coffin. This immense sarcophagus 
is a huge rock, forty feet long, twenty wide, and 
eight in depth, and, at the point from which it is 
viewed, presents a striking resemblance to a 
coffin. It has been detached from the side of 
the avenue against which it rests. 

On the ceiling, a little to the left of the Giant's 
Coffin, and looking into the Deserted Chamber, 
is the figure of an ant-eater. It is composed 
of the efflorescence of black gypsum, and rests 
upon a background of w^hite limestone. Bayard 
.Taylor, W'hose extensive travels enable him to 
speak authoritatively, says that the resemblance 
of the figure to the animal after which it is 
named is very perfect. 

A short distance beyond the Giant's Coffin, in 
the Main Cave, after passing w^iat is called the 
Acute Angle, a group of figures is observed on 
the ceiling, termed the Giant, Wife, and Child. 
These, figures are in a sitting posture, and the 
Giant appears to be in the act of passing the 
Child to the Giantess. They are also composed 
of black gypsum, which rests on a white back- 

Still farther on, the figure of a colosfeal mam- 
moth may be seen on the ceiling. 


From the Giant's Coffin to the mouth of the 
Cave, wheel-tracks, and the impressions of the 
feet of the oxen used to cart tiie saltpetre, 
made over fifty years ago, may be distinctly 
seen. The earth, at the time that these im- 
pressions were made, was in a moist condition, 
having ^recently undergone the process of lixi- 
viation in the manufacture of saltpetre, and, 
upon drying, attained an almost stony soli- 
dity. These tracks are on the immediate route 
of travel, and have been walked over by 
thousands of visitors during a' period of sixty 
years. Yet the cleft foot of the ox, and the 
regular indentations of the cart-wheel, can be 
plainly distinguished in the petrified earth. 
At one point we were shown where the oxen 
were fed ; and, by the aid of a stick, we suc- 
ceeded in digging out of the dry earth two or 
three impacted corn-cobs, in a good, state of 
preservation ; and we are perfectly satisfied that 
they had not been placed there for purposes 
of deception, as has been suggested by some 

We were puzzled, at first, to understand 
how the oxen and carts could be got into the 
Cave, — the descent to the entrance being so 
precipitous and the mouth so contracted. The 


guide suggested that the oxen were introduced 
separately, and the carts in piecemea4. 

On the route from the Acute Angle to the 
Star Chamber, several stone cottages, formerly 
inhabited by the invalids already mentioned, 
are still standing, — gloomy monuments of their 
departed occu23ants. One of these cottages is 
used as a card-room, where hundreds of private 
and business cards may be found. 

We are now upon what is known as the Long 
Route, and we leave the Main Cave at the foot 
of the Giant's Coffin, 

One by one we pass into a crevice behind the 
Coffin, at the bottom whereof yawns a narrow 
hole. Half stooping, half crawling, we descend 
through an irregular, contracted passage to a 
basement hall called the Deserted Chamber. 

The Deserted Chamber is a gloomy, aban- 
doned-looking hall, and is fully entitled to the 
name given it. This is the point at which the 
water left the Main Cave to reach Echo River, 
after it had ceased to flow out of the mouth 
of the former into Green River. In other re- 
spects it is not of particular interest. 

The two illustrations which accompany this 
part of our text — "Entrance to the Long 
Route," and the " Deserted Chamber" — give the 




reader a very correct idea of the singularly wild 
and extraordinary surroundings in this part of 
the Cave.* The entrance to the Long Route is 
effected, as has been already stated, through the 
narrow passage around the far end of the Giant's 
Coffin. The guide is seen just entering the 
contracted avenue. The next view represents 
the guide as having accomplished the passage 
upon which we saw liim entering, and as having 
reached the dreary-looking " Deserted Chamber." 
He carries upon his arm the basket of provisions 
for dinner. This chamber is about one hundred 
feet in length, but the ceiling, as may be seen, 
is quite low. 

An apartment known as the Wooden Bowl 
Cave is next entered. It derives its name from 
the tradition that a wooden bowl, such as was 
formerly used by the Indians, was found ' in it 

* Our lithographic plates are copied from 'pliotograiihs, to 
the perfect accuracy of which we can testify. Forty-two stereo- 
scopic views, taken within and about the Cave, have been pub- 
lished. The interior views were obtained by the aid of the 
magnesium light, the most intense artificial light that has yet 
been produced. This set of views, which we recommend to 
the attentipa of our readers, constitutes a novel and most tri- 
umphant application of the photographic art, and materially aids 
in the comprehension of our language as we treat upon tlie-so 
unique curiosities. They are published by Messrs. Anthony & 
•>.'o., of New York. 



when it was first discovered. The chamber 
itself is shaped like an inverted bowj, which fact 
may have suggested the name. 

It is said that the Indians formerly explored 
the Cave with long reeds, filled with deer's fat, 
to light them along. 

Black Snake Avenue, which enters the Main 
Cave near the stone cottages, communicates with 
Wooden Bowl Cave. It receives its name from 
its serpentine course and black walls. It is 
rarely shown to visitors, as it possesses but few 
objects of interest. 

We next pass a steep declivity and a flight of 
steps, called the Steps of Time, and enter Mar- 
tha's Palace. The Palace is about forty feet in 
height, and sixty in diameter. It is not partic- 
ularly attractive, and it appears singular that it 
should have been accorded so grand a name. 
A short distance beyond Martha's Palace is a 
spring of clear, potable water, which visitors 
generally take advantage of to quench their 
thirst, as there is a considerable distance, in 
some parts of the Cave, between the fountains 
of good drinking-water. 

The Side-Saddle Pit, over which rests a dome 
sixty feet in height, is reached by passing 
through what is called the Arxjhed Way; the 



walls, floor, and ceiling of which bear evidence 
that it was once the channel of running water. 
This Pit is ninety feet deep, and at its widest 
part about twenty feet across. 

About twenty feet -to the left of the Side- 
Saddle Pit is situated Minerva's Dome. It is 
fifty feet in height, and ten in width. It is 
a miniature representation of Gorin's Dome, 
hereafter to be noticed. The Dome and Pit 
have been cut out of the solid rock by the sol- 
vent action of water containing carbonic acid in 
solution. They are still enlarging. 

The aperture leading to the Pit presents the 
outlines of a lady's saddle ; hence the name. 

We next arrive at the brink of the Bottom- 
less Pit. The very name causes us to shrink 
with terror ; but we are presently reassured by 
finding it to be a misnomer. The Pit, which 
doubtless- appeared bottomless to the first discov- 
erers, if we credit Mr. Horace Martin, has since 
been found to be but one hundred and seventy- 
five feet in depth. 

The Bottomless Pit was formerly the limit of 
excursions in this direction. It Avas not until 
•the year 1838, we are informed, that any trav- 
eler ever passed beyond this frightful chasm. In 
that year the Pit, as has been stated in Mr. 


Gorin's letter, was spanned by a substantial 
wooden bridge known as the "Bridge of Sighs;" 
and then was discovered the most beautiful and 
interesting portion of the Cave. 

Shelby's Dome, which is sixty feet in height, 
rests directly over the Bottomless Pit. The Pit 
and Dome have been formed, and are still en- 
larging, by the same causes that excavated the 
Side-Saddle Pit. ' 

Immediately beyond the Bottomless Pit a 
room is entered, called the Revelers' Hall, which 
is about twenty feet in height and forty in 

Here it is the custom of visitors to rest for a 
short time and discuss the terrors of the Pit. 
This is generally followed by bringing forth the 
potables, when the safety and health of all par- 
ties are duly toasted. So says Dr. Wright; and 
so will every visitor say when he observes the 
imrftense quantity of broken and unbroken bot- 
tles strewn about the floor of this wild-looking 

After passing through a low archway, about 
four feet in height, very properly termed the 
Valley of Humility, the ceiling of which is 
smooth and white and appears as though it 
had been plastered, the Scotchman's Trap is 


Tltc-l/uyal StcanL Zlth^ijl ^nUa^ 

scotchma:^'s teap 


entered. The Trap is a circular opening, 
through which it is necessary to pass by de- 
scending a flight of steps. It is about five feet 
in diameter, over which is suspended a huge 
rock, like a dead-fall, by an apparently slight 
support, which, if it were to fall, would com- 
pletely close the avenue leading to Echo River. 
If, however, this opening should become closed, 
we will state, for the comfort of the timid, that 
there are three ways by which an escape might 
be effected. Thus : there is an avenue beyond 
it, which enters the bottom of the Bottomless 
Pit, from which a person might be drawn up by 
means of ropes ; another avenue of escape would 
be by Bunyan's Way, which leads into Pensa- 
cola Avenue; and a third, by Sparks' Avenue 
and Mammoth Dome. The accompanying 
figure shows this Trap, with the guide stand- 
ing at the head of the steps. 

A short distance beyond the Scotchman's 
Trap, in what is termed the Lower Branch, 
there is found a curiously-shaped rock, named 
the Shanghai Chicken, from its fancied resem- 
blance to that unsightly fowl. 

The next curiosity of note that is reached in 
our progress is one possessing great interest to 
men, and to women also, who are blessed with a 


respectable physical development. This place 
of attraction has been accorded the^ euphonious 
name of " Fat Man's Misery." 

Fat Man's Misery is a narrow, tortuous 
avenue, fifty yards in length, which has been 
cut out of the solid rock by the mechanical 
action of the water. The lower part of the 
avenue varies in width from eighteen inches 
to three feet ; and the upper part, — that is, from 
the height of a man's chest to the head, — from 
four to ten feet. In height it varies from four 
to eight feet, — the greater part of the distance 
averaging but four feet, — thus requiring the 
passenger to assume a stooping position, which 
is exceedingly painful to the back. 

Contrary to the general impression, says Dr. 
Wright, there never was a man too large to pass 
through Fat Man's Misery. This is an error. 
We have known more than one individual, 
weighing over four hundred pounds, who could 
not possibly have effected the passage. Bayard 
Taylor says that the weight of the largest man 
who ever accomplished this narrow way was 
two hundred and sixty pounds, and he thinks 
that it would be impossible for a man of greater 
weight to see the sights beyond. 

A hall of novel appearance, very appropri- 

T!ie Jltaai Jteajn mM. Co Fhila. 



ately denominated Great Relief, after the ex- 
perience of bended backs and compressed sides 
in the passage of Fat Man's Misery, is next 
entered. This hall varies in width from forty 
to sixty feet, and in height from five to twenty 
feet. From the ceiling project immense- nodules 
of ferruginous limestone. 

On the floor of Great Relief, the direction of 
the current of water that filled these avenues 
can be traced. Thus, at the side next Fat 
Man's Misery it is strewn with gravel, near the 
center sand occurs, and still farther on mud is 
deposited, — demonstrating the fact that it flowed 
into Echo River. 

The avenue termed Bunyan's Way passes 
directly over Great Relief, and enters a short 
distance from Fat Man's Misery, by which 
communication is established with Pensacola 
Avenue. ^ 

The portion of the avenue in advance, which 
extends from Great Relief, to -the River Styx, is 
called River Hall. It varies in width from 
forty to sixty feet. 

The Bacon Chamber is situated to the right 
of River Hall. This chamber is decidedly 
curious, and the name singularly appropriate. 
Here may be seen a fine collection of limestone 


hams and slioulders suspended from the ceiling, 
as in a smoke-house. They were formed by the 
solvent action of water charged with carbonic 
acid, at the time when the lower portion of them 
rested against a stratum of rock which has since 
been detached. 

The avenue which leads to the Mammoth 
Dome and Sparks' Avenue takes its orighi in 
the Bacon Chamber. 

About forty feet below the terrace which 
leads to the Natural Bridge is a body of water, 
fifteen feet deep, twenty wide, and fifty feet jn 
length, termed the Dead Sea. It is quite as 
gloomy, we are told, as its celebrated name- 
sake. Mr. Martin says, " The name so awful 
and so referable to awful events cannot be 
better illustrated than here. There is a terrible 
grandeur in the place. Long after you have left 
it, the mind's eye continues cognizant of its many 
sights, the ear of its many sounds. The mem- 
ory holds them, and they ever haunt the dreams 
of night." 

When this part of the Cave was first dis- 
covered, the Dead Sea was passed on the terrace 
over its left bank;- this passage, however, was 
attended with great danger. 

By a curious anomaly, our teachings in 


heathen mythology are reversed in the Mam- 
moth Cave. Here we pass the Bottomless Pit 
before reaching the River Styx, — instead of 
w ferrying over the latter on our way to the 

former ! 

The " Visitor" (whose work was published by 
Morton & Griswold, Louisville) remarks, " He 
who could paint the infinite variety of creation 
can alone give an adequate idea of this marvel- 
ous region. As you pass along, you hear the 
roar of invisible waterfalls ; and at the foot of 
the slope the River Styx lies before you, deep 
and black, overarched with rock. The first 
glimpse of it brings to mind the descent of 
Ulysses into hell, 

' Where the dark rock o'erhangs the infernal lake, 
And mingling streanas eternal murmurs make.'" 

The River Styx is one hundred and fifty 
yards long, from fifteen to forty in width, and 
in depth varies from thirty to forty feet. It has 
a subterranean communication with other rivers 
of the Cave, and, when Green River rises to a 
considerable height, has an open communication 
with all of them. 

The Natural Bridge spans the River Styx, 
and is about thirty feet above it. When the 



farther bank of the River Styx is illuminated 
with a Bengal light, the view from th-e Natural 
Bridge is awfully sublime. 

Our attention is next drawn to a silent, peace- 
ful-looking body of water, called Lake Lethe. 
This lake is one hundred and fifty yards long, 
from ten to forty feet wide, and in depth varies 
from three to thirty feet. The ceiling of the 
avenue at this point is ninety feet above the 
surface of the lake. Lake Lethe extends in 
the direction of the avenue, the floor of which 
is covered by it. 

The lake is crossed in boats. On the occa- 
sion of our visit the boat was not sufficiently 
large to carry all of our party at one time ; it 
was therefore necessary that a number of us 
should remain for the second trip. We sat 
down upon the dark shore and watched the 
boat glide slowly away. The novel scene was 
peculiarly adapted to the production of a last- 
ing impression upon the imagination of the 
beholder, — the boat moving slowly and noise- 
lessly over the water, carrying its phantom-like 
freight, dressed in their fanciful costumes, the 
dim lamps throwing fitful flashes of light and 
shadow on the rippled surface, and through the 
darkness to the high ceiling above; then, as we 


silently gazed, with unutterable thoughts, the 
boat and its specter-like voyagers passed entirely 
from our view around a projecting angle of 
rock; darkness reigned upon the face of the 
waters, as in primeval chaos ; a long breath was 
taken, and some abortive efforts were made to 
express our feelings. After a brief interval of 
darkness, the Charon of this stream, with his 
solitary lamp in the prow of his rude boat, re- 
appears in the distance, returning for those left 
behind. The feelings inspired by this scene, 
we say, were of a character that can never be 
forgotten, and such, perhaps, as could be expe- 
rienced under no other circumstances; for no 
counterpart of the surroundings are known to 

Being fatigued and thirsty, on our return from 
far beyond, we drank of the waters of Lethe, 
without, however, forgetting our troubles, — sore 
feet and w^ak knees ! 

Upon disembarking on the opposite shore 
of Lake Lethe, we enter Great Walk, which 
extends from the lake to Echo River, a distance 
of five hundred yards. 

The ceiling is forty feet high, and the rocks 
which compose it present a striking resemblance 
to cumulus clouds. They are composed of white 


limestone. The floor is covered with yellow 

It requires a rise of only five feet of water in 
Echo River to overflow Great Walk ; and that 
depth is sufficient to allow boats to float between 
the lake and the river. There are times, we 
are informed, when Great Walk is filled with 
water from the floor to the ceiling. Extraor- 
dinary as the statement may appear, it is not 
an uncommon occurrence for the water to rise 
to the height of sixty feet in Lake Lethe, at 
which times the iron railing on the terrace 
above the Dead Sea is entirely submerged. 
This great rise of water is produced by freshets 
in Green River. 



We next arrive at the banks of Echo River. 

"Darkly tlioa glidest onward, 
Thou deep and hidden wave ! 
The laughing sunshine hath not look'd 
Into thy secret Cave. 

"Thy current makes no music — 
A hollow sound we hear, 
A mufiBed voice of mystery. 
And know that thou art near. 

" No bright line of verdure 
Follows thy lonely way. 
No fairy moss or lily's cup 
Is freshened by thy play." 

Connected with this river are, perhaps, some 
of the most delightful of the multitude of im- 
pressions that we receive in the Cave. There 
are sights more gorgeous, more awful, more 
sublime, but nowhere are the senses of sight 
and sound so beautifully and so charmingly 
brought into unison. In point of sublimity, 

7* (11) 


impressing the senses through the sight alone, 
the Star Chamber, in the Main Cave,. excels it ; 
but all who are capable of being agreeably 
affected by the " concord of sweet sounds" will 
recall the voyage over Echo River as the most 
charming reminiscence connected with their 
visit to the Mammoth Cave. It is the fairy- 
river that wafts upon its bosom the wandering 
traveler to the mystic regions beyond. 

Echo River extends from Great AValk to the 
commencement of Silliman's Avenue, a distance 
of three-quarters of a mile. 

The avenue at the entrance of Echo River, 
under ordinary circumstances, is about three 
feet in height, which, as can be easily imagined, 
is rather a contracted space for a boat with its 
human freight to pass beneath. A large flat- 
boat is kept here, which we found large enough 
to carry the entire number of our party at a 
single trip. Considerable stooping was neces- 
sary to pass under this low arch on our out- 
ward-bound voyage; but before our return the 
river had risen several inches, so that it w^as 
necessary to get down on the hands and knees, 
and even lower, in order to pass the arch. The 
unpleasantness of the situation may be inferred, 
when it is stated that the boat, in consequence 


of being frequently submerged by the rise of the 
river, is always wet and muddy in the interior. 
In effecting our exit from this narrow passage 
on our return voyage, some ludicrous incidents 
occurred, owing to the necessary sacrifice of 
grace and decorum on the part of the ladies, 
as well as on that of the gentlemen; some of 
the party barely escaping being crushed by the 
unexpectedly sudden descent of heavier indi- 

If a disinterested observer could have wit- 
nessed the scene at this point, — the entire party 
in every possible awkward position, stooping 
low, lying down, some lustily crying out that 
they were being crushed by somebody, some 
laughing, and some complaining that the ceiling 
had damaged their heads, — we repeat, if a dis- 
interested observer had been present, the scene 
would have appeared to him as ludicrous in the 

Fortunately, however, for the comfort of 
visitors, this low ceiling does not extend more 
than fifteen or twenty feet from the entrance ; 
beyond that distance the average height is 
about fifteen feet. At some points the river is 
two hundred feet wide. In depth it varies 
from ten to thirty feet. The ceiling is of an 


arched form, and is composed of smooth, solid 
rock, — more closely resembling a work of art 
than of Nature. 

From what has been said of the narrow open- 
ing at the starting-point on the river, it may be 
inferred that a slight increase of water would 
render ingress impossible. There is a means 
of escape, however, should any one be caught 
beyond, by a small side avenue, called Purga- 
tory, which commences at the end of Great 
Walk, and terminates in the avenue of Echo 
River, about a quarter of a mile from the land- 
ing in Silliman's Avenue. A rise of eighteen 
feet of water, however, fills the avenue of Pur- 
gatory, and cuts off all communication with the 
outer world. 

When there is no rise in Green River for 
several weeks, the water in Echo River becomes 
remarkably transparent, so much so, in fact, 
that rocks can be seen ten or twenty feet below 
the surface, and the additional novelty is given 
to the voyage of the sensation that the boat is 
gliding through the air. The connection be- 
tween Echo and Green Rivers is doubtless near 
the commencement of Silliman's Avenue. When 
Green River is rising. Echo River runs in the 
direction of Great Walk ; when it is falling, the 


current sets in the opposite direction. When 
Green River is neither rising nor falling, the 
water of Echo Kiver runs slowly in the direc- 
tion of Silliman's Avenue, and is supplied from* 
springs in the Cave. At such times its tempera- 
ture is fifty-nine degrees, the same as the uni- 
form temperature of the atmosphere of the Cave. 
When the water of Green River flows into Echo 
River at a temperature higher than that of the 
Cave, a fog is produced, which in point of den- 
sity, it is said, is not inferior to that off the 
banks of Newfoundland. Inexperienced persons 
have been lost in the fog on Echo River. 

At the time of our voyage across this river 
there was no fog, and the water, though not 
transparent, was beautifully clear. After pro- 
ceeding a short distance, the guide, who stood 
in the bow of the boat, silently propelling it by 
means of his hands,.when within reach, and, at 
other times, by a staff applied to the ceiling 
and side-walls, struck up, at short intervals, a 
plaintive note of song. From the far distance, 
as from another world, — we had almost said 
from the spirit-world, — came answering melo- 
dies, as though a thousand tongues, attuned to 
different chords, had taken up the refrain, 
repeating it again and again, fainter and 


fainter, whilst we unconsciously strained our 
ears and stayed our breathing to catch the last 
dying tone. Here, one, without effort of imag- 
ination, might easily conceive that he was really 
passing over the "dark river," and within the 
sound of the choristers that stand upon the 
celestial shores to welcome him onward ! 

Lord Byron has beautifully described the echo 
of thunder among the mountains : 

" Far along, 
From peak to peak, the rattling crags among, 
Leaps the live thunder ! Not from one lone cloud, 
But every mountain novF hath found a tongue, 
And Jura answers, through her misty shroud. 
Back to the joyous Alps, who call to her aloud 1" 

This picture lifts us to the sublime and in- 
spires us with awe; but on Echo River all is 
calmness and peace, harmony and love, — we for- 
get the world behind us, we. forget our pre-exist- 
ence, we realize our ideal of an approach to 
spiritual life. 

Two or three of the gentlemen of our party, 
in a spirit of adventure, made their passage 
through the rugged avenue called Purgatory. 
They described the trip as one of exceeding dif- 
ficulty. After terminating their purgatorial ex- 
perience and arriving at the end of the avenue 


on Echo River, which they accomplished several 
minutes in advance of the boat-party, one of the 
gentlemen fired a pistol. So remarkable was the 
effect that it sounded to our astonished ears like 
the explosion of heavy artillery, reverberating 
for a surprising length of time. 



As an interlude to the descriptive narrative 
of the scenery observed in our journey through 
the Cave, we will stop here to note the existence 
of animal life, which is remarkable for maintain- 
ing vitality under circumstances so unfavorable 
for normal development. There are to be found 
in the Cave eyeless fish, eyeless crawfish, lizards, 
frogs, crickets, rats, bats, etc., — all, except the 
two first named, being possessed of more or less 
development of the visual organs. 

In Echo River we find the eyeless fish and 
the eyeless crawfish. These specimens of the 
fish tribe have been looked upon by all classes 
of persons, ever since the first published notice 
of their existence, as remarkable curiosities. 
They illustrate, however, a fixed rule in the 
great laws of Nature. The presiding Deity 
never supplies any living creature with super- 
fluous organs ; and if organs already exist which 
future circumstances render useless, they arc 


eventually obliterated. In the never-ceasing 
darkness of the Cave, eyes are unnecessary or- 
gans to the fish that live in its waters. We 
have every reason to believe that these fish were 
originally possessed of eyes ; but after their in- 
troduction into the Cave, and perhaps centuries 
of existence there, these useless organs grad- 
ually, through many generations, lost their ori- 
ginal character, and finally disappeared, only a- 
trace of the orbit remaining.* 

Some months after our visit to the Cave our 
attention was drawn to a newspaper article, from 
an anonymous writer, which we believe originally 
appeared in the Chicago ''Tribune," August 18, 
18G7. The writer contended that the permanent 
inhabitants of the Cave were not only blind, but 
deaf also. The original letter in the " Tribune"' 
was entitled "Important Scientific Observations," 

* " Their exclusion from tiie solar beam is well known to pro- 
duce organic alterations in the visual organs of animals, such as 
atrophy of the optic nerve, or those portions of the brain (the 
corpora quadrigemina) more immediately associated with the 
sight. It is supposed that the blindness observed among fish 
found in the dark caves of the Tyrol and Kentucky arises from 
the arrest in the development of the eyes as the result of a con- 
stant deprivation of light." — Light: its Influence on Life and 
Health. By Forbes Winslow, M.D., etc., American ed. New 
York: Moorhead, Simpson & Bond, 18G8, p. 13. 



etc., made in the Mammoth Cave. Feeling in- 
terested in everything connected with the Cave, 
particularly the scientific observations, we read 
the letter with more than ordinary attention, but 
were disappointed to discover that mere conjec- 
tures of a sensational character were presented 
to the uninformed public as the result of scien- 
tific investigations. The writer begins by say- 
.ing, "Will you permit me through the columns 
of your paper to invite attention to some very 
remarkable natural facts, communicated to me 
by Dr. (naming a physician), of this city, which 
came under his observation during a visit of sci- 
entific research to that geological freak of nature, 
the Mammoth Cave ? They seem to be worthy 
of record, but, as the doctor modestly intimated, 
may have been the subject of observation by 
others as well as himself, although perhaps not 
possessing the same degree of interest. Keenly 
alive to everything, however remotely connected 
with his favorite profession, the doctor, it seems, 
was perfectly astonished at the fixed and chronic 
state of blindness and deafness in which he found 
the permanent inhabitants of the Cave. These 
beings, it appears, are not only without eyes, or 
even the trace of an orbit, but, so far as could 
be ascertained by careful and indefatigable in- 


vestigation, evidently destitute of the sense of 
hearing." This writer bases his theory upon the 
assumption that there is no sound in the Cave to 
produce vibrations upon ihe auditory nerve, for- 
getting that the animals, the rats particularly, 
cause sounds by their own voices and move- 
ments. He does not confine his remarks, as to 
the deficiency of sight and hearing, to the fishes, 
but includes all " the permanent inhabitants of 
the Cave." 

A portion of the said letter was afterward 
copied in some of the medical journals, and, 
among others, in the " Medical and Surgical Re- 
porter," of Philadelphia, vol. xvii. p. 479 (Nov. 
30, 1867). We took occasion in a subsequent 
number of the same journal to express our dis- 
sent from the promulgation of such unsupported 
assertions, and called upon the author for the ex- 
periments which were said to have been insti- 
tuted for determining the absence of the organ 
of hearing in the inhabitants of the Cave. He 
replied in an evasive and somewhat surly man- 
ner, without giving any experiments or argu- 
ments to sustain his theory. 

We will first describe the general character- 
istics of the fish, and afterward recur to the 
point above referred to. 


The fish are of a peculiar species, and are of 
a class known as viviparous, which give birth to 
their young alive, and do not deposit eggs after 
the manner of most other fish. They have ru- 
diments of eyes, but no optic nerve, and are 
therefore incap <ble of being affected by any de- 
gree of light. We are indebted to Dr. Wright, 
who is perfectly familiar with the facts, for this 

The eyeless crawfish give birth to their young 
in the same manner as those provided with eyes. 
Both the fish and the crawfish are of a color 
almost white. 

Ordinary fish and crawfish are sometimes 
washed into the Cave from Green River. Frogs, 
also, are occasionally washed into Echo River, 
and, at times, may be heard croaking to the 
echo of their own voices. 

It has been proven that the ej eless fish prey 
upon each other. In shape they somewhat re- 
semble the common catfish, and rarely exceed 
eight inches in length. One of these fish was 
caught by the guide in our presence, placed in 
a bottle of water, and taken out of the Cave 
alive, and might have been brought home with 
us, without impairing its vitality, if supplied 
daily with fresh water. They are captured by 


means of a small scoop-net, which is gently 
carried beneath them. 

Professor B. Silliman, Jr., who visited the Cave 
in the autumn of 1850, published the following 
observations on the blind fish and the blind craw- 
iish, in " Silliman's Journal" for May, 1851 : 

"Of the fish there are two species, one of 
which has been described by Dr. Wyman in the 
'American Journal of Science,' and which is en- 
tirely eyeless ; some ten or twelve specimens of 
the species were obtained. The second species 
of the fish is not colorless like the first, and it 
has external eyes, which, however, are found to 
be quite blind. The crawfish, or small Crusta- 
cea, inhabiting the rivers with the fish, are also 
eyeless, and uncolored ; but the larger-eyed and 
colored crawfish, which are abundant within the 
Cave, are also common, at some seasons, in the 
subterranean rivers, and so also, it is said, the 
fish of Green River are to be found at times of 
flood in the rivers of the Cave. Among the 
collections are the larger-eyed crawfish, which 
were caught by us in the Cave." 

For the benefit of those who may feel inter- 
ested in the scientific characters and peculiarities 
of the Cave fish, we will quote the observations of 
two authorities, whose names are generally recog- 



nized and respected in scientific circles. In " Sil- 
liman's Journal" for January, 1851,, p. 127, Pro- 
fessor Louis Agassiz, perhaps the most eminent 
living naturalist, especially in the department 
of ichthyology, in reply to a letter of inquiry 
from the senior editor of the "Journal," remarks, 

" The blind fish of the Mammoth Cave was 
for the first time described in 1842, in the Zool- 
ogy of New York, by Dr. Dekay, Part 3d, page 
187, under the name of 'Amblyopsis spelaeus,' 
and referred, with doubt, to the family of ' Silu- 
ridge,' on account of a remote resemblance to 
my genus Cetopsis. Dr. J. Wyman has pub- 
lished a more minute description of it, with very 
interesting anatomical details, in vol. xlv. of the 
^American Journal of Science and Arts,' 1843, 
page 94. 

"In 1844 Dr. Tellkampf published a more 
extended description, with figures, in 'Miiller's 
Archiv' for 1844, and mentioned several other 
animals found also in the Cave, among which the 
most interesting is a Crustacean, which he calls 
'Astacus pellucidus,' already mentioned, but not 
described, by Mr. Thompson, President of the 
Natural History Society of Belfast. Both Thomp- 
son and Tellkampf speak of eyes in these spe- 
cies ; but they are mistaken. I have examined 


several specimens, and satisfied myself that the 
peduncle of the eye only exists ; but there are 
no visible facets at its extremity, as in other 

" Mr. Thompson mentions, further, crickets, 
allied to ' Phalangopsis longipes,' of which Tell- 
kampf says that it occurs throughout the Cave. 
Of spiders. Dr. Tellkampf found two eyeless, 
small, white species, which he calls • Phalangodes 
armata' and 'Anthrobia monmouthia' — flies, of 
the genus 'Anthomyia' — a minute shrimp, called 
by him 'Triura cavernicola,'and two blind beetles 
— 'Anophthalmus Tellkampfii' of Erichson, and 
'Adelops hirtus;' of most of which Dr. Tell- 
kampf has published a full description and 
figures in a subsequent paper, inserted in Erich- 
son's Archiv, 1844, p. 318. 

" The infusoria observed in the Cave resemble 
'Monas Kolpoda,' 'Monas socialis,' and ' Bodo 

* Speaking of the eyes of animals, it is remarked in the val- 
uable school-book of Professors Agassiz and Gould, entitled 
" Principles of Zoology," Boston, 1859, " Others, which live in 
darkness, have not even rudimentary eyes, as, for example, that 
curious fish (Amblyopsis spelceus) which lives in the Mammoth 
Cave, and which appears to want even the orbital cavity. The 
crawfishes {Astacus pellucidus) of this same Cave are also blind, 
having merely the pedicle for the eyes, without even traces of 
facettes." — p. .55. 


intestinalis' — a new Chilomonas, which he calls 
'Ch. emarginata/ and a species allied to ^Kolpoda 

"As already mentioned, Dekay has referred 
the blind fish, with doubt, to the family of 
Siluridae Dr. Tellkampf, however, establishes 
for it a distinct family. Dr. Storer, in his 
Synopsis of the Fishes of North America, pub- 
lished in 1846, in the Memoirs of the American 
Academy of Arts and Sciences, is also of opinion 
that it should constitute a distinct family, to 
which he gives the new name of ' Hypsseidae,' 
page 435. From the circumstance of its being 
viviparous, from the character of its scales, and 
from the form and structure of its head, I am 
inclined to consider this fish as an aberrant type 
of my family of Cyprinodonts. 

"You ask me to give my opinion respecting 
the primitive state of the eyeless animals of the 
Mammoth Cave. This is one of the most im- 
portant questions to settle in Natural History, 
and I have, several years ago, proposed a plan 
for its investigation, which, if well conducted, 
would lead to as important results as any series 
of investigations which can be conceived; for it 
might settle, once and forever, the question, in 
what condition and where the animals now 


living on the earth were first called into exist- 
ence. But the investigation would involve such 
long and laborious researches, that I doubt 
whether it will ever be undertaken. It has oc- 
curred to me that the final step would be a 
thorough anatomical study of the species found 
in the Cave, with extensive comparison of allied 
species found elsewhere, — next, an investigation 
of the embryology of all of them, — and, when 
fully prepared by such researches, an attempt to 
raise embryos, of the species found in the Cave, 
under various circumstances, different from those 
in which they are naturally found at present. 

"If physical circumstances ever modified 
organized beings, it should be easily ascertained 
here. For my own part, however, I think that 
the blind animals of the Cave would only show 
organs of vision during their embryonic state, in 
conformity with the normal development of the 
respective types to ^hich they belong, and that 
even when placed under a moderate influence 
of light, incapable of injuring them, but sufficient 
to favor the growth of their eyes in the allied 
species provided with them, the young of those 
species peculiar to the Cave would gradually 
grow blind, while the others would acquire per- 
fect eyes; for I am convinced, from all I know 


of the geographical distribution of animals, that 
they were created under the circumstances in 
which they now live, within the limits over 
which they range, and with the structural pecu- 
liarities Avhich characterize them at the present 
day. But this is a mere inference, and whoever 
would settle the question by direct experiment 
might be sure to earn the everlasting gratitude 
of men of -science. And here is a great aim for 
the young American Naturalist who would not 
shrink from the idea of devoting his life to the 
solution of one great question."* 

* It will be seen from the foregoing that Professor Agassiz main- 
tains the opinion that the fish and the crawfish of the Cave, with 
their structural peculiarities, "were created under the circum- 
stances in which they now live," but, as he very frankly adds, 
" this is a mere inference." 

We have already stated that the inference drawn from our 
own observations and reflections is that these animals were 
originally supplied with the organs of vision ; and since the 
above was penned we have noticed tbat Professor Joseph Jones, 
of Nashville, Tenn., has incidentally corroborated our view while 
treating the subject of Albimsih. Referring to the effects of con- 
tinued darkness upon various animals, Dr. Jones remarks : 

" After extended investigation and examination of thousands 
of living specimens, I have never observed an albino among cold- 
blooded animals. 

" When this class of animals have been confinecWn dark caves, 
and excluded from the action of light, they present the appear- 
ance of the albino ; and it is probable that, if the negro children. 


Having now given Prof. Agassiz's general 
views upon the natural history of the eyeless 
animals of the Cave, we will proceed to the 
anatomical construction of the organs of sight 
and hearing of the blind fishes, in the words of 
Professor Jeffries Wyman, which we take from 
Silliman's "American Journal of Science and 
Arts" for March, 1854, page 228. He says: 

which are almost white at the time of their birth, were reared in 
total darkness, they would in like manner be white. 

" I have seen living sirens from the caves of Africa, without a 
particle of coloring matter in their skins, and so transparent that 
the form and pulsations of the heart and the circulation of the 
blood could be discerned through the walls of the abdomen and 
chest ; and Dr. Blackie has informed me that he has seen similar 
colorless salamanders in the dark caves of Northern Georgia. 

" I have in my possession specimens of the blind fish [Amhly- 
opsts spelceus), the blind cray-fish {Astacus pellucidus), and of the 
crickets with eyes, of the dark caverns of the caves of Kentucky, 
which are entirely wanting in coloring, resembling albinos. The 
absence of the ball from the socket of the eye in the blind fish, 
and the absence of the eye from the peduncles of the blind cray- 
fish, may be most philosophically attributed to the absence of that 
agent upon which the production of color depends. And it is 
now well established that we may arrest and alter the develop- 
ment of the tadpole, and other animals, by raising the amount 
of physical forces, heat and light." — Observations and Researches 
on Albinism in the Negro Race. By Joseph Jones. M.D., Pro- 
fessor of Physiology and Pathology in the Medical Department 
of the University of Nashville, Tennessee. Published in the 
Transactions of the American Medical Association, vol. xx., 
1869, pp. 703, 704. 


" The general structure of the blind fishes was 
described in a former number of .this journal 
(July, 1843), but a more complete description 
was given in the 'New York Journal of Medi- 
cine' by Tellkampf, who, in company with J. 
Miiller, of Berlin, for the first time detected the 
existence of rudimentary eyes.* They are de- 
scribed as one-twelfth of a line in diameter, 
round, black, destitute of a cornea, having an 
external layer of pigment, beneath which is a 
colorless membrane. No nerve was detected in 
connection with the eye, and the contents of the 
globe were not determined with certainty. Pro- 
fessor Owen has described the organ as a simple 
eye-speck, 'as in the leech, consisting of a minute 
tegumentary follicle, coated by dark pigment 
which receives the end of a special cerebral 
nerve.'f Dr. John C. Dalton, Jr., has also de- 
tected the eyes, and describes them as minute 
globular sacs containing blackish pigment, deeply 

* ''New York Journal of Medicine, vol. v. p. 84. 1845. Dr. 
Dekay had previously mentioned the existence of eyes, but was 
evidently misled by some other appearance, since he states that 
eyes exist of the usual size, but are covered by the skin. He had 
not dissected them. — Fauna of New York." — {Note by Prof. 

t Lectures on Comparative Anatomy, vol. ii. p. 202. See also 
his figure, p. 175. 


imbedded in the adipose tissue of the orbit, and 
measuring a little less than one-seventy-eighth 
of an inch.* 

" Through the kindness of Mr. Charles Dean, 
of Cambridge, and of Professor Agassiz, I have 
.had placed at my disposal some specimens of 
Amblyopsis, well preserved in alcohol, and have 
been able to make, in some respects, a more 
comj)lete description than has yet been given. 
I have also had an opportunity of inspecting, 
superficially, fourteen specimens, varying from 
one inch and a half, to four inches and a half 
in length, but in three or four only could the 
eyes be detected through the skin. In the three 
specimens recently dissected, the eyes were ex- 
posed only after the removal of the skin and 
the careful separation from them of the loose 
areolar tissue which fills the orbit. In a fish 
four inches in length, the eyes measured one- 
sixteenth of an inch in their long diameter, 
were of an oval form, and black. A filament 
of nerve [the professor here refers to a diagram 
of the eye, which accompanies his paper] was 
distinctly traced from the globe to the cranial 
walls ; but the condition of the contents of the 

* New York Medical Times, vol. ii. page 354. 


cranium, from the effects of the alcohol, was 
such as to render it impracticablcvto ascertain 
the mode of connection of the optic nerve with 
the optic lobes. A few muscular fibres were 
traced to the immediate neighborhood of the 
eye, and even in contact with it, but were not 
ascertained to have that regular arrangement 
which is seen in the more completely formed 
eyes of other fishes. 

"Examined under the microscope with a 
power of about twenty diameters, the following 
parts were satisfactorily made out: first, ex- 
ternally an exceedingly thin membrane, which 
invested the whole surface of the eye, and 
appeared to be continuous with a thin mem- 
brane covering the optic nerve, and which was 
therefore regarded as a sclerotic ; second, a 
layer of pigment-cells, for the most part of a 
hexagonal form, and which were most abun- 
dant about the anterior part of the eye ; third, 
beneath the pigment a single layer of colorless 
cells, larger than a pigment-cell, and each cell 
having a distinct nucleus; fourth, just in front 
of the globe a lenticular-shaped, transparent 
body, which consisted of an external membrane 
containing numerous cells with nuclei ; this 
lens-shaped body seemed to be retained in its 


place by a prolongation forward of the external 
membrane of the globe ; fifth, the globe was in- 
vested by loose areolar tissue, which adhered to 
it very generally, and in some instances con- 
tained yellow fatty matter, — in one specimen it 
formed a round spot, visible through the skin, 
on each side of the head, which had all the 
appearance of a small eye, — its true nature was 
determined by the microscope only. It is not 
improbable that the appearance just referred to 
may have misled Dr. Dekay, where he states 
that the eye exists of the usual size, but covered 
by the skin. 

" If the superficial membrane above noticed 
is denominated correctly the sclerotic, then the 
pigment-layer may be regarded as the repre- 
sentative of the clioroid. The form as well as 
the position of the transparent nucleated cells 
within the choroid correspond, for the most 
part, with the retina. All of the parts just 
enumerated are such as are ordinarily devel- 
oped from and in connection with the enceph- 
alon, and are not in any way dependent upon 
the skin. But if the lenticular-shaped body is 
the true representative of the crystalline lens, 
it becomes difficult to account for its presence in 
Amblyopsis according to the generally-recog- 


nized mode of its development (since it is 
usually formed from an involution qf the skin), 
unless we suppose that after the folding of the 
skin had taken place in the embryonic con- 
dition the lens retreated from the surface and 
all. connection with the integument ceased. 

•"According to Quatrefages, however, the eye 
of Amblyopsis is contained wholly in the cavity 
of the dura mater, and yet it has all the appear- 
ance of being provided with a lens. If his 
description be correct, then the mode of devel- 
opment as well as the morphology of the eye 
in this remarkable fish is different from that 
of most other vertebrates, since the lens never 
could have been formed from an involution of 
the skin, nor could the eye, with its lens, as 
Professor Owen asserts, be a modified cutaneous 
follicle. That there should be different modes 
of development of parts of the eye in different 
animals is by no means improbable, since we 
find this actually to be the case in another 
organ of sense, the nose. In some fishes the 
nostrils result from a depression or involution 
of the skin simply, and do not at any period 
communicate with the mouth ; while in all the 
higher vertebrates they are formed by sub- 
division of the primitive oral cavity. It is 


possible, therefore, that in Amblyopsis the lens 
may have been developed where we find it, and 
that it was never connected with the intescu- 
ment. Whatever views be taken with regard 
to its development, the anatomical characters 
which have been enumerated show that, though 
quite imperfect as we see it in the adult, it is 
constructed after the type of the eyes in other 
vertebrates. It certainly is not adapted to the 
formation of images, since the common integu- 
ment and the areolar tissue which are interposed 
between it and the surface would prevent the 
transmission of light to it except in a diffused 
condition. No pupil, nor anything analogous 
to an iris, was detected, unless we regard as 
representing the latter the increased number 
of pigment-cells at the anterior part of the 

In continuation of the same observations, 
the professor next treats of the Ear; and his 
remarks on this point are conclusive in contra- 
diction of the sensational newspaper article 
previously mentioned. He says: 

"It is said that the blind fishes are acutely 
sensitive to sounds, as well as to undulations 
produced by other causes in the water. In the 
only instance in which I have dissected the 



organ of hearing (which I believe has not been 
before noticed), all its parts were largely devel- 
oped, as will be seen by reference to figures 2 
and 3. [We regret that we are unable to intro- 
duce the figures here.] As regards the general 
structure, the parts do not differ materially from 
those of other fishes, except for their propor- 
tional dimensions. The semicircular canals are 
of great length, and the two which unite to 
enter the vestibule by a common duct, it will 
be seen, project upwards and inwards under the 
vault of the cranium, so as to approach quite 
near to the corresponding parts of the opposite 
side. The otolite contained in the utricle was 
not remarkable, but that of the vestibule is 
quite large when compared with that of a 
Leuciscus of about the same dimensions as the 
blind fish here described." 

After these dry scientific details of some of 
the inhabitants of the Cave, which may prove 
interesting to those readers whose studies lead 
them in such channels, and for which we ask 
the forbearance of the general reader, we will 
proceed with the narrative of our journey. 



, Upon landing on the farther shores of Echo 
River, we immediately enter Silliman's Avenue, 
— so named for Professor B. Silliman, Jr., who 
visited the Cave in 1850. 

This avenue is a mile and a half long, and 
extends from Echo River to the Pass of El Ghor. 
Its height varies from twenty to forty feet, and 
it is from twenty to two hundred feet in width. 
The walls and ceiling of this avenue are rugged 
and water-worn. It is undoubtedly of recent 
formation, as compared with other parts of the 

The objects of interest in Silliman's Avenue 
come in the following order : 

1. Cascade Hall is two hundred feet in diam- 
eter, and twenty feet high. It receives its name 
from a small cascade That falls into it from the 

Of this hall Bayard Taylor says, "A few 

C 103 ) 


minutes of rough travel brought us to a large 
circular hall, with a vaulted ceiling, from the 
center of which poured a cascade of crystal 
water, striking upon the slant side of a large re- 
clining boulder, and finally disappearing through 
a funnel-shaped pit in the floor. It sparkled 
like a shower of pearls in the light of our lamps 
as we clustered around the brink of the pit to 
drink from the stores gathered in those natural 
bowls which seem to have been hollowed out for 
the uses of the invisible gnomes." 

The avenue which leads to Roaring River 
takes its origin in Cascade Hall. 

2. The Dripping Spring is a pool of water 
that is supplied from the ceiling. Stalactites 
and stalagmites are found at this point. 

3. The Infernal Region receives its name 
from the fact that the floor is composed of wet 
clay and is exceedingly irregular. It is almost 
impossible to pass over it without receiving a 
fall. Several of our party would be willing to 
testify to this assertion. 

4. The Sea-Serpent is a tortuous crevice in 
the rock overhead, that has been cut by running 
water, the layer of rock that formed the floor of 
it having been detached. 

5. The Valley Way-Side Cut is a small ave- 


nue leading off from Silliman's Avenue and re- 
turning into it a short distance farther on. It 
presents several beautiful points, and is worth 

6. The Hill of Fatigue is appropriately 
named, being hard to climb, but is not otherwise 
worthy of note. 

7. The Great Western, so called from the 
supposition that in appearance it represents the 
immense ship known as the Great Eastern, is 
an enormous rock, many times larger than any 
vessel, the end of which closely resembles the 
stern of a ship. To make use of nautical lan- 
guage, the rudder is turned to the starboard side. 

8. The Rabbit is a large stone, which is sup- 
posed to resemble the animal whose name it 

9. Ole Bull's Concert-Room is situated to the 
left of the avenue. It is thirty feet wide, forty 
long, and twenty high. When the great vio- 
linist made his first tour through the United 
States, he visited the Cave and performed in the 
room which has received his name. 

At the end of Silliman's Avenue begins 
Rhoda's Arcade, which arises half a mile from 
the Pass of El Ghor ; it is five hundred yards 
in length, and from five to ten feet in height. 


The walls and ceiling are incrusted with crystals 
of gypsum and carbonate of lime, of great bril- 
liancy and indescribable beauty. The floor is 
covered with white crystals of limestone, and is 
unobstructed by fallen rock. In point of beauty 
there is no avenue supenor to this. 

Lucy's Dome is reached by passing through 
Rhoda's Arcade. It is about sixty feet in its 
greatest diameter, and over three hundred in 
height, being the highest dome in the Cave. 
The sides appear to be composed of immense 
curtains, extending from the ceiling to the 

We next reach The Pass of El Ghor, which 
resembles Silliman's Avenue, but the clifis com- 
posing its walls present a more wild and rugged 
appearance. It is about two miles in length. 

Of this Pass, Bayard Taylor remarks that he 
supposes it was named by some traveler who 
had been in Arabia Petrgea, and adds that the 
name is a pleonasm, as el ghor signifies a 
narrow, difficult pass between rocks. 

Mr. Taylor regarded the Pass of El Ghor as 
by far the most picturesque avenue in the Cave. 
He continues : " It is a narrow, lofty passage 
meandering through the heart of a mass of hor- 
izontal strata of limestone, the broken edges of 


which assume the most remarkable forms. 
Now there are rows of broad, flat shelves 
overhanging your head ; now you enter a little 
vestibule with friezes and mouldings of almost 
Doric symmetry and simplicity; and now you 
wind away into a Cretan Labyrinth, most 
uncouth and fantastic, whereof the Minotaur 
would be a proper inhabitant. It is a continual 
succession of surprises, and, to the appreciative 
visitor, of raptures." 

We will specify the objects of interest in this 
avenue as they present themselves : 

1. The Hanging Rocks look as though they 
were on the point of falUng and closing the 
avenue over which they are suspended ; but, 
as before stated, no rocks from the walls or 
ceiling have been known to fall in any part of 
the Cave since its discovery. 

2. The Fly Chamber receives its name from 
the fact that crystals of black gypsum, of the 
size of a common house-fly, project in great 
numbers from the ceiling 

3. Table Rock is twenty feet long, and pro- 
jects from the left side of the avenue about ten 
feet. It is about two feet in thickness. 

4. The Crown is six feet in diameter, and is 
situated on the right side of the avenue, about 


ten feet from the floor. It closely resembles the 
object after which it is named. 

5. Boone's Avenue leads off to the left. It 
has been explored only about one mile, and 
nothing further is known as to its extent or 

6. Coeinna's Dome rests directly over the 
center of the avenue. It is forty feet high and 
nine wide. It was formed by the solvent action 
of water, which entered it through a fissure at 
the top, when the Pass of El Ghor was filled 
with water. Had it been formed after the 
water had left the avenue, there would have 
been a pit beneath it, as at Shelby's ^ Dome 
and the Bottomless Pit. 

7. The Black Hole of Calcutta is situated 
on the left side of the avenue, and is about 
fifteen feet deep. 

8. Stella's Dome is two hundred and fifty 
feet in height, and, in general appearance, re- 
sembles Lucy's Dome. It is reached by passing 
through a small avenue which enters the left 
wall of the Pass of El Ghor. 

9. The Chlmes consist of depending rocks, as 
in the Bacon Chamber, which, when struck, 
emit a musical sound. These are objects of 
interest to the visitor. 


10. Wellington's Gallery is not attractive. 

11. Hebe's Spring is about four feet in diam- 
eter, and one foot and a half in depth. Its 
water .is charged witli sulphuretted hydrogen. 
Twenty years ago, as we are informed by 
Dr. Wright, there was no sulphur in this 
Spring, and at the present time, when it has 
been undisturbed for several hours, pure water 
is found upon the surface, and sulphur water 
at the bottom, indicating the fact that it is 
supplied with sulphur water at the bottom and 
pure water near the surface which come from 
entirely different sources. 

Eyeless crawfish have been found in Hebe's 

At the distance of half a mile beyond Hebe's 
Spring, the Pass of El Ghor communicates 
with a body of water, the extent of which is 
unknown, called the Mystic River. 




We leave the Pass of El Ghor at the foot of 
Martha's Vineyard. 

The avenue which contains Martha's Vine- 
yard is elevated twenty feet above the Pass 
of El Ghor, and is reached, with considerable 
difficulty, by ascending a steep ladder near 
Hebe's Spring. 

Of this curiosity, Bayard Taylor expressed 
his impressions in the following language : 
"We were now, according to the guide's prom- 
ises, on the threshold of wonders. Before pro- 
ceeding forther, we stopped at Hebe's Spring, 
which fills a natural basin in the bottom of a 
niche made on purpose to contain it. We then 
climbed a perpendicular ladder, passing through 
a hole in the ceiling barely large enough to admit 
our bodies, and found ourselves at the entrance 
of a narrow, lofty passage leading upward. 
When all had made the ascent, the guides exult- 
ingly lifted their lamps and directed our eyes to 



the rocks overhanging the aperture. There was 
the first wonder, truly ! Clusters of grapes, 
gleaming with blue and violet tints through the 
water which trickled over them, hung from the 
cliffs, while a stout vine, springing from the 
base and climbing nearly to the top, seemed to 
support them. Hundreds on hundreds of 
bunches, clustering so thickly as to conceal the 
leaves, hang, forever ripe and forever un- 
plucked, in that marvelous vintage of the sub- 
terranean world. For whose hand shall squeeze 
the black, infernal wine from the grapes that 
grow beyond Lethe ?" 

Dr. Wright tells us, in more sober language, 
that the walls and ceiling of Martha's Vineyard 
are studded with stalactite nodules of carbonate 
of lime, colored with the black oxide of iron, 
and in size and appearance resembling grapes. 
A stalactite three inches in diameter, and ex- 
tending from the floor to the ceiling, is termed 
the Grape- Vine. 

A large stalagmite projects from the right 
wall, a few inches from the floor, and is termed 
the Battering-Ram. 

Elindo Avenue takes its origin directly over 
the Pass of El Ghor. It presents no points of 
special interest, except that the avenue leading 


to the Holy Sepulchre, which is situated directly 
over Martha's Vineyard, and which contains a 
fine collection of stalactites, arises in it. 

In speaking of this part of the Cave, Mr. 
Martin remarks (p. 65) : 

"AlDout one hundred feet from this spot, tak- 
ing the right, over a rough and rather a difficult 
way, the tourist at last reaches what is called 
the height or hill. On this stands the Holy 
Sepulchre. This natural chapel is about twelve 
feet square ; it has a low ceiling, and is deco- 
rated in the most magnificent style imaginable, 
having well-arranged draperies of stalactite of 
every possible shape. .You go to the room of 
the Holy Sepulchre, adjoining. Unlike the place 
you left, it is without ornament or decoration of 
any kind whatever; it presents nothing but 
dark and bare walls, and has been likened, by 
many who have been there, to a charnel-house. 
In the center of this room, which stands but a 
few feet below the chapel, the visitor will be 
shown what seems to be a grave hewn out of 
the solid rock. So great is the resemblance as 
to have suggested to a Roman Catholic priest 
the exclamation that has .since passed as its 
name. The reverend gentleman referred to no 
sooner cast his eyes upon this opening in the 


rock, than he cried out, on bended knees and 
with uplifted hands, 'The Holy Sepulchre! The 
Holy Sepulchre!'" 

Continuing our advance, we next arrived at a 
point of great interest, — a locality that had been 
anxiously inquired for for more than an hour 
previously to reaching it, — Washington Hall — 
the place of dining. 

Dr. Wright says that this Hall is generally 
reached between twelve and one o'clock ; but 
our party, being composed of slow travelers, and 
of persons anxious to see at leisure everything 
of interest, did not arrive at the Hall until half- 
past two. The following are Bayard Taylor's 
impressions of the dining apartment : 

" Mounting for a short distance, this new 
avenue suddenly turned to the left, widened, and 
became level. The ceiling is low, but beautifully 
vaulted, and Washington's Hall, which we soon 
reached, is circular, and upwards of one hundred 
feet in diameter. This is the usual dining-room 
of parties who go beyond the rivers. Nearly 
five hours had now elapsed since we entered the 
Cave, and five hours spent in that bracing, 
stimulating atmosphere might well justify the 
longing glances which we cast upon the baskets 
carried by the guides. Mr. Miller [the then 



proprietor of the hotel] had foreseen our appe- 
tites, and there were stores of venison, biscuit, 
ham, and pastry, more than sufficient for all. 
We made our mid-day, or rather midnight, meal, 
sitting, like the nymph who wrought Excalibur, 

• Upon the hidden bases of the hills,' 

buried far below the green Kentucky forests, far 
below the forgotten sunshine. For in the Cave 
you forget that there is an outer world some- 
where above you. The hours have no meaning. 
Time ceases to be; no thought of labor, no sense 
of responsibility, no twinge of conscience, in- 
trudes to suggest the existence you have left. 
You walk in some limbo beyond the confines of 
actual life yet no nearer the world of spirits. 
For my part, I could not shake off the impres- 
sion that I was wandering on the outside of 
Uranus, or Neptune, or some planet still more 
deeply buried in the frontier darkness of our 
solar system." 

We indorse all that we have quoted from Mr. 

" There may be," remarked our corpulent 
friend B., " a great deal of romance in this way 
of eating, with your plate on your lap and 
seated on a rock or lump of nitre-earth ; but. 


for my part, I would rather dispense with the 
poetry of the thing, and eat a good dinner, 
whether above or below ground, from off a bona- 
tide table, and seated on a good substantial 
chair. The proprietor ought to have, at all the 
dining-places, tables, chairs, and the necessary 
table-furniture, that visitors might partake of 
their collations with some degree of comfort.'"^ 

We regard this as a very proper suggestion. 
The proprietor of the hotel might, with very 
trifling cost, keep permanently, at the two or 
three principal places of dining, substantial tables 
and chairs for the accommodation of visitors. 

Cans of oil are kept in this room (Washington 
Hall), from which the lamps are replenished. 
Although the lamps are capable of holding oil 
sufficient to burn ten hours, the depots for it are 
so arranged that they can be filled every five 
hours; and, as a greater security against total 
darkness, the guide carries a bottle of oil in his 

Marion's Avenue, which rises in Washington 
Hall, leads to Paradise, Zoe's Grotto, and Por- 
tia's Parterre. These avenues will be again 
referred to. 

* Rambles of a Visitor, p. 53. 


Upon leaving Washington Hall, and before 
reaching Cleveland's Cabinet, we pass through 
the Snowball Room. The ceiling is studded 
with white nodules of gypsum, which vary in 
diameter from two to four inches. The atmos- 
phere of the room is too damp for the gypsum 
to assume the forms of flowers and filaments, 
as it does in Cleveland's Cabinet. The re- 
semblance of these nodules to snowballs is 


Cleveland's cabinet, and the rocky mountain. 

We now enter the last avenue on the " Long 
Route," which, in point of attractiveness and 
extraordinary beauty, is the crowning glory of 
the Cave. We refer to Cleveland's Cabinet. 
This avenue is about two miles in length, ex- 
tending to the Rocky Mountain. The interest 
connected with this avenue is so great that we 
hope we will be pardoned for here inserting ex- 
tended extracts from the observations of others 
regarding the impressions produced upon them 
while witnessing its curiosities. 

Mr. Martin says, " This avenue is truly mag- 
nificent ; it may be designated one of the most 
magnificent objects in the world. It is replete 
with formations that are to be seen in no other 
place, — which even the dullest cannot behold 
without experiencing sensations quite new to 
them, but which in the cultivated and intel- 
lectual awaken feelings of rapture. 

"Professor Locke has designated some of these 



formations as onlophilites, or curled leaf stones. 
In lecturing on them he says, ' They are unlike 
anything yet discovered, equally beautiful for 
the cabinet of the amateur and interesting to the 
geological philosopher.' 

"Another gentleman (a clergyman) also speaks 
of these formations. His remarks are to the fol- 
lowing effect : ' So exquisite and beautiful is 
Cleveland's Avenue, that it is out of the power 
of painter or poet to conceive anything like it. 
Such loveliness cannot, indeed, be described. 
Were the sovereigns of wealthy states to spend 
their all on the most skillful lapidaries they could 
find, with the view of rivaling the splendor of 
this truly regal abode, the attempt would be 
entirely vain. What, then, is left for the nar- 
rator? People must see it, and then they will 
be convinced that all attempts at adequate de- 
scription are useless. Tlie Cabinet was discov- 
ered by Mr. Patten, of Louisville, and Mr. Craig, 
of Philadelphia, accompanied by the guide Ste- 
phen. It extends in a direct line about two 
miles. It is a perfect arch of fifty feet span, and 
of an average height of ten feet in the center, 
just high enough to be viewed at ease in all its 
parts. It is incrusted from end to end with the 
most beautiful formations in every variety of 


form. The base of the whole is sulphate of lime, 
in one part of dazzling whiteness and perfectly 
smooth, and in other places crj^stallized so as 
to glitter like diamonds in the light. Growing 
from this, in endless diversified forms, is a sub- 
stance resembling selenite, translucent and im- 
perfectly laminated. Some of the crystals bear 
a striking resemblance to celery, and all are 
about the same length, while others, a foot or 
more in length, have the color and appearance 
of vanilla cream candy ; others are set in sul- 
phate of lime, in the form of a rose ; and others 
still roll out from the base in forms resembling 
the ornaments on the capital of a Corinthian 
column. Some of the incrustations are massive 
and splendid ; others are as delicate as the lily, 
or as fancy-work of shell or wood. Let any per- 
son think of traversing an arched way like this 
for two miles, and all the wonders of the tales 
of youth, not forgetting those gorgeous fictions, 
' The Arabian Nights,' seem tame and uninter- 
esting when brought into comparison with the 
living, growing reality. The term 'growing' is 
not a misnomer ; the process is going on before 
your eyes. Successive coats of these incrusta- 
tions have been perfected, and then crowded off 
by others, so that hundreds of tons of these 


gems lie at your feet and are crushed as you 
pass, while the work of restoring the ornaments 
for Nature's boudoir is proceeding around you. 
Here and there, through the whole extent, you 
will find openings through the side, into which 
you may thrust the person and often stand erect 
in little grottos, perfectly incrusted with a deli- 
cate white substance, reflecting the light from a 
thousand glittering points. Many visitors are 
so enraptured with the place that they cannot 
repress exclamations of surprise and worship." 

This beautiful avenue (Cleveland's) is of suf- 
ficient importance to justify us in giving the 
views of various authors with regard* to it. We 
will next add an extract from the sketch of 
Bayard Taylor: 

" It is completely incrusted from end to end 
with crystallizations of gypsum, white as snow. 
This is the crowning marvel of the Cave, — the 
pride and the boast of the guides. Their satis- 
faction is no less than yours, as they lead you 
through the diamond grottos, the gardens of 
sparry efflorescence, and the gleaming vaults 
of this magical avenue. We first entered the 
Snowball Room, where the gnome-children, in 
their sports, have peppered the gray walls and 
ceiling with thousands of snow-white projecting 


disks, SO perfect in their fragile beauty that they 
seem ready to melt away under the blaze of 
your lamp. Then commences Cleveland's Cab- 
inet, a gallery of crystals, the richness and 
variety of which bewilder you. It is a sub- 
terranean conservatory, filled with the flowers 
of all zones ; for there are few blossoms expand- 
ing on the upper earth but are mimicked in 
these gardens of darkness. I cannot lead you 
from niche to niche, and from room to room, 
examining in detail the enchanted growths ; 
they are all so rich and so wonderful that the 
memory does not attempt to retain them. 
Sometimes the hard limestone rock is changed 
into a parterre of white roses ; sometimes it is 
starred with opening daisies ; the sunflowers 
spread their flat disks and rayed leaves ; the 
feathery chalices of the cactus hang from the 
clefts ; the night-blooming cereus opens securely 
her snowy cup, for the morning never comes to 
close it ; the tulip is here a virgin, and knows 
not that her sisters above are clothed in the 
scarlet of shame. 

" In many places the ceiling is covered with 
a mammillary crystallization, as if a myriad 
bubbles were rising beneath its glittering sur- 
face. Even on this jeweled soil, which sparkles 



all around you, grow the lilies and roses, singly 
overhead, but clustering together toward the 
base of the vault, where they give place to 
long, snowy, pendulous cactus-flowers, which 
droop like a fringe around diamonded niches. 
Here you see the passion-flower, with its curi- 
ously-curved pistils; there an iris, with its lan- 
ceolate leaves ; and again, bunches of celery, 
with stalks white and tender enough for a 
fairy's dinner. There are occasional patches 
of gypsum, tinged with a deep amber color by 
the presence of iron. Through the whole 
length of the avenue there is no cessation of 
the wondrous work. The pale rock-blooms 
burst forth everywhere, crowding on each other 
until the brittle sprays cannot bear their weight, 
and they fall to the floor. The slow, silent 
efflorescence still goes on, as it- has done for 
ages in that buried tropic. 

" What most struck me in my under-ground 
travels," continues Mr. Taylor, " was the evi- 
dence of desig?! which I found everywhere. 
Why should the forms of earth's outer crust, 
her flowers and fruits, the very heaven itself 
which spans her, be so wonderfully reproduced ? 
What law shapes the blossoms and the foliage 
of that vast crystalline garden ? There seemed 


to be something more than the accidental com- 
binations of a blind chance in what I saw, — 
some evidence of an informing and directing 
will. In these secret caverns, the agencies which 
produced their wonders have been at work for 
thousands of years, perhaps thousands of ages, 
fashioning the sparry splendors in the womb of 
darkness with as exquisite a grace, as true an 
instinct of beauty, as in the palm or the lily, 
which are moulded by the hands of the sun. 
What power is it that lies behind the mere 
chemistry of Nature, impregnating her atoms 
with such subtle -laws of symmetry? What but 
the Divine will which first gave her being, and 
which is never weary of multiplying for man 
the lessons of infinite wisdom ?" 

Professor Locke, of the Ohio Medical College, 
under date of Cincinnati, October 26, 1841, 
published in Silliman's " American Journal 
of Science and Arts" for 1842, p. 206, a 
sketch entitled " Alabaster in the Mammoth 
Cave of Kentucky," from which we make the 
following extracts : 

" After crossing within the Cave several 
streams in boats, an apartment has been 
reached (Cleveland's Cabinet), the roof of 
which is decorated with the most gorgeous 


ornaments of alabaster, so much like a work of 
art as to surpass credibility. They are white 
and semi-transparent, and are thrown out from 
the rock in the form of rosettes, leaves, and 
curled enrichments of the composite capital of 
architecture, * * * * I was at first at 
a loss to account for such beautiful formations, 
and especially for the elegance of the curves ex- 
hibited. It is, however, evident that the sub- 
stances have grown from the rocks by increments 
or additions to the base, — the solid parts already 
formed being continually pushed forward. If 
the growth be a little more rapid on one side 
than on the other, a well-proportioned curve 
will be the result; should the action on one 
side diminish or increase, then all the beauties 
of the conic and mixed curves would be pro- 
duced. The masses are often evenly and 
longitudinally striated by a kind of columnar 
structure, exhibiting a fascicle of small prisms, 
and some of these prisms, ending sooner than 
others, give a broken termination of great 
beauty, similar to our form of the emblem of 
Hhe order of the Star.' The rosettes formed 
by a mammillary disk, surrounded by a circle of 
leaves at every flexure, like the branches of a 
chandelier, running more than a foot in length 




and not thicker than the finger, are among the 
varied frost-work of the alabaster groltos ; com- 
mon stalactites of carbonate of lime, although 
beautiful objects, lose by contrast with these 
ornaments all of their effect, and dwindle into 
mere clumsy, awkward icicles." 

Having given a general idea of the beauty and 
grandeur of Cleveland's magnificent avenue, we 
proceed to mention in detail the objects of in- 
terest as they present themselves : 

1. Maey's Bower is fifteen feet in height 
and forty in leno;th. Its walls and ceiling are 
covered with rosettes of gypsum. Immediately 
adjoining Mary's Bower, and by many regarded 
as surpassing it in beauty, is to be seen Rosa's 
Bower, a very good representation of which has 
been produced by our artist. 

2. The Cross consists of two crevices in the 
ceiling, intersecting each other at right angles, 
and lined with flowers of plaster of Paris. It is 
about eight feet in length. 

3. The Mammary Ceiling is formed of nipple- 
shaped projections of gypsum. 

4. The Last Rose of Summer is about eight 
inches in diameter, and is of snowy whiteness. 
It rests against the ceiling, in the center of the 



This is indeed a marvel of beauty. It is a 
perfect representation of a very large rose. It 
hangs alone, a short distance beyond the thou- 
sftnds of clusters, and it is really the last to be 
found in the avenue. 

5. The Dinixg-Talle is fifteen feet wide and 
thirty long. . It is a flat rock that has been de- 
tached from the ceiling. 

6. Bacchus's Glory is an alcove, three feet 
in height and five feet in length, the whole 
interior of which is lined with nodules of 
gypsum which in size and form resemble 
grapes. It is situated to the left of the 

7. St. Cecilia's Grotto is remarkable for the 
size of the stucco flowers found in it. 

8. Diamond Grotto is lined with crystals of 
selenite, ^vhich, when a light is waved to and fro 
in front of them, sparkle like the gem after which 
the grotto is named. 

It is to be hoped that the beautiful but deli- 
cate formations in Cleveland's Cabinet will ever 
be carefully guarded against the destructive 
hand of man ; for by human agency all those 
wonderful rock-blooms which have occupied 
thousands of years in their production might 
be destroyed in a few hours. The Cabinet is 


named in honor of Professor Cleveland, the 
disthiguished mineralogist. 

At the terniination of Cleveland's Cabinet we 
arrive at the base of the Rocky Mountain. This 
mountain is one hundred feet high, and is en- 
tirely formed of rocks that have fallen from 
above. On the top of the Rocky Mountain there 
is a stalagmite two feet high and six inches in 
diameter, termed Cleopatra's Needle. 

On the farther side of the Rocky Mountain is 
a gorge seventy feet deep and one hundred feet 
wide, termed Dismal Hollow. The Cave at the 
Mountain divides into three branches. That to 
the right leads to Sandstone Dome, which is in- 
teresting from the fact that the stone of which it 
is composed indicates that the top of the Dome 
is near the surface of the earth. The branch to 
the left communicates with Crogan's Hall.* The 
central one is termed Franklin Avenue, and ex- 
tends from Dismal Hollow to Serena's Arbor. 

Franklin Avenue, as before stated, extends 
from Dismal Hollow to Serena's Arbor, a dis- 
tance of a quarter of a mile. It varies in width 
from thirty to sixty feet; it has a wild and 
gloomy appearance. 

* Named for Dr. Crogan, a former proprietor of tlie Cave, — 
improperly spelled Grogan by Dr. Wright. 


- Serena's Arbor is' twenty feet in diameter and 
about forty in height. The walls and ceiling 
are covered with stalactite cornices, columns, 
grooves, ogees, etc., many of which are semi- 
transparent and sonorous. 

At the base of the Rocky Mountain the guide 
stopped, intimating that the terminus of the 
journey had been reached. Having read a 
thrilling account of a descent into the Mael- 
strom some years ago, we expressed a desire to 
see the awful pit, which was some distance 
beyond. All the gentlemen of the party, and 
one or two of the ladies also, expressed a will- 
ingness to climb the Rocky Mountain. The 
other ladies awaited our return. The ascent of 
the mountain was extremely difficult, and it is 
not to be wondered at that the guides do not 
insist upon visitors passing over it. 

Beyond the mountain we enter Crogan's Hall, 
which constitutes the end of the Long Route, 
and which is about seventy feet wide and twenty 
high. The left wall is covered wdth stalactite 
formations, which are white and semi-transpa- 
rent and of great hardness, and fragments of 
which are sometimes worked into ornaments. 



The Maelstrom is a pit one hundred and 
seventy-five feet deep and twenty wide. There 
are avenues leading from the bottom, which 
may be seen when a light is lowered into it, 
but which have been, as yet, imperfectly ex- 

In connection with the Maelstrom, we cannot 
refrain giving the graphic and thrilling account 
of the adventure, already alluded to, of William 
Courtland Prentice, son of George D. Prentice, 
the venerable editor of the " Louisville Journal," 
who was an officer in the Confederate Army, 
and was killed in a raid on the banks of the Ohio 
in 1862. In referring to his untimely death, the 
"Journal" said : 

" He loved to seek the wildest and loneliest 
portions of Kentucky. Repeatedly he went far 
up among the bald and desolate crags of the 
cliffs of Dix River, a region haunted by the 
bear, the wild-cat, and the catamount. The 



piercing scream of the panther even then was a 
sound of rapture to his ear. He ^was ever in 
search of natural curiosities, and he discovered 
and explored caves previously unknown, in all 
probability, to any man of our generation, and 
in one of them he found immense numbers of 
human bones that seemed to him to have be- 
longed to a different order of beings from any 
now upon our continent. He subsequently be- 
came as familiar with the Mammoth Cave as 
the best of its guides. An adventure of his in 
that subterranean realm attracted much atten- 
tion four years ago. An account of it was pub- 
lished in our columns, and, as we have often been 
requested to republish it, we will do so now : 

" Terrific Adventure in the Mammoth Cave. 
— At the supposed end of what has always been 
considered the longest avenue in the Mammoth 
Cave, nine miles from its entrance, there is a 
pit, dark and deep and terrible, known as the 
Maelstrom. Tens of thousands have gazed into 
it with awe while Bengal-lights were thrown 
down to make its fearful depths visible, but none 
had ever the daring to explore it. The cele- 
brated guide Stephen, who was deemed insen- 
sible to fear, was offered six hundred dollars by 
the proprietors of the Cave if he would descend 


to the bottom of it; but he shrank from the peril. 
A few years ago, a learned and bold man resolved 
to do what no one before him had dared to do; 
and, making his arrangements with great care 
and precaution, he had himself lowered down 
by a strong rope a hundred feet, but at that point 
his courage failed him, and he called aloud to be 
drawn out. No human power could ever have 
induced him to repeat the appalling experiment. 
"A couple of weeks ago, however, a young gen- 
tleman of Louisville (Wm. Courtland Prentice), 
whose nerves never trembled at mortal peril, 
being at the Mammoth Cave with Professor 
Wright, of our city, and others, determined, no 
matter what the dangers might be, to explore 
the depths of the Maelstrom. Mr, Proctor, the 
enterprising proprietor of the Cave, sent to 
Nashville, and procured a long rope of great 
strength expressly for the purpose. The rope 
and some necessary timbers were borne by the 
guides and others to the point of the exploration. 
The arrangements being soon completed, the 
rope, with a heavy fragment of rock affixed to it, 
was let down and swung to and fro to dislodge 
any loose pieces of rocks that would be likely to 
fall at the touch. Several were thus dislodged, 
and the long-continued reverberations, rising up 


like distant thunder from below, proclaimed the 
depth of the horrid chasm. . Then the young 
hero of the occasion, with several hats drawn 
over his head, to protect it as far as possible 
against masses falling from above, and with a 
light in his hand and the rope fastened around 
his body, took his place over the awful pit, and 
directed the half-dozen men, who held the end 
of the rope, to let him down into the Cimmerian 

" We have heard from his own lips an account 
of his descent. Occasionally masses of earth and 
rock went whizzing past, but none struck him. 
Thirty or forty feet from the top, a cataract from 
the side of the pit went rushing down the abyss, 
and, as he was in the midst of the spray, he felt 
some apprehension that his light would be ex- 
tinguished ; but his care prevented this. He 
was landed at the bottom of the pit, a hundred 
and ninety feet from the top. He found it 
almost perfectly circular, about eighteen feet in 
diameter, with a small opening at one point, 
leading to a fine chamber of no great extent. 
He found on the floor beautiful sj)ecimens of 
black selix, of immense size, vastly larger than 
were ever discovered in any other part of the 
Mammoth Cave, and also a multitude of exqui- 


site formations as pure and white as virgin snow. 
Making himself heard, with great effort, by his 
friends, he at length asked them to pull him 
partly up, intending to stop on the way and 
explore a cave that he had observed opening 
about forty feet above the bottom of the pit. 

'• Reaching the mouth of the cave, he swung 
himself with much exertion into it, and, holding 
the end of the rope in his hand, he incautiously 
let it go, and it swung out apparently beyond 
his reach. The situation was a fearful one, and 
his friends above could do nothing for him. 
Soon, however, he made a hook of tlie of 
his lamp, and, by extending himself as far over 
the verge as possible without falling, he suc- 
ceeded in securing the rope. Fastening it to a 
rock, he followed the avenue one hundred and 
fifty or two hundred yards to a point where he 
found it blocked by an impassable avalanche of 
rock and earth. Returning to the mouth of 
this cave, he beheld an almost exactly similar 
mouth of another on the opposite side of the pit, 
but not being able to swing himself into it, he 
refastened the rope around his body, suspended 
himself again over the abyss, and shouted to his 
friends to raise him to the top. The pull was 
an exceedingly severe one, and the rope, being 



ill adjusted around hivS body, gave him the most 
excruciating pain. But soon his pain was for- 
gotten in a new and dreadful peril. 

"When he was ninety feet from the mouth 
of the pit, and one hundred from the bottom, 
swaying and swinging in mid-air, he heard rapid 
and excited words of horror and alarm above, 
and soon learned that the rope by which he was 
upheld had taken fire from the friction of the 
timber over which It passed. Several moments 
of awful suspense to those above, and still more 
awful to him below, ensued. To them and to 
him a fatal and instant catastrophe seemed in- 
evitable. But the fire was extinguished with a 
bottle of water belonging to himself, and then 
the party above, though almost exhausted by 
their labors, succeeded in drawing him to the 
top. He was as calm and self-possessed as upon 
his entrance into the pit; but all of his com- 
panions, overcome by fatigue, sank down upon 
the ground, and his friend. Professor Wright, 
from overexertion and excitement, fainted, and 
remained for some time insensible. 

" The young adventurer left his name carved 
in the depths of the Maelstrom — the name of 
the first and only person that ever gazed upon 
its mysteries." 


The guides informed us, upon reference being 
made to this terrific adventure, which had pre- 
viously come under our notice, that since the 
occasion of Prentice's descent, two other parties 
have been bold enough to incur the same 
hazards, — one an Englishman and the other an 
American. They, however, did not meet with 
the appalling experience that is so graphically 
narrated in the foregoing sketch. 



Having now reached the end of the Long 
Route, and presuming that the minds of our 
readers are sufficiently filled, for the present, 
with the beautiful, the sublime, and the terrible, 
we embrace the opportunity, before wending 
back our weary way to the land of verdure and 
sunshine, to draw attention for a few moments, 
by way of diversion, to some of the animals and 
insects of the Cave which have not already been 
described, — several of which are found at this 

A peculiar kind of rat is sometimes found in 
Crogan's Hall as well as in other parts of the 
Cave, which is a size larger than the Norway 
rat. The head and eyes resemble those of a 
rabbit, and the hair on the back is like that of a 
gray squirrel, but that of the legs and abdomen 
is white. 

Cave crickets and lizards are also found here. 
The Cave crickets are about an inch in length. 


The body is yellow, striped with black. They 
are provided with large eyes, but seem to direct 
their course, mainly, by their antennse, or feelers, 
which are enormously developed. They are 
sluggish in their movements, and, unlike other 
crickets, observe an eternal silence. 

The Cave lizards vary in length from three 
to five inches. The eye is large and prominent. 
The body is yellow and dotted with black spots, 
and is semi-transparent. They are sluggish in 
their movements. 

The abundance of animal life at this point 
(Crogan's Hall) would seem to indicate that 
there is a communication with the surface of 
the earth at no great distance. 

Bats are found in all parts of the Cave, we are 
told by Dr. Wright, but most abundantly in Au- 
dubon's Avenue. 

Professor Silliman, a portion of whose remarks 
have alrea;dy been quoted ("Silliman's Journal" 
for May, 1851), says : 

" There are several insects, the largest of 
which is a sort of cricket with enormously long 
antennae. Of this insect, numerous specimens 
will be found among the specimens sent to Profes- 
sor Agassiz. There are several species of coleop- 
tera, mostly burrowing in the nitre-earth. There 



are some small water insects also, which I sup- 
pose are crustacean. Unfortunately, three vials, 
containing numerous specimens of these insects, 
were lost with my valise from the stage-coach, 
and I fear will not be recovered. 

" The only mammal, except the bats, observed 
in the Cave, is a rat, which is very abundant, 
judging from the tracks which they make, but 
so shy and secluded in their habits that they are 
seldom seen. We caught two of them, and, for- 
tunately, they were male and female. 

" The chief points of difference from the com- 
mon rat, in external characters, are in the color, 
which is bluish, the feet and belly and throat 
white, the coat, which is of soft /wr, and the tail 
also thinly furred, while the common, or Nor- 
way rat, is gray or brown, and covered with 
rough hair. The Cave rat is possessed of dark, 
black eyes, of the size of a rabbit's eye, and en- 
tirely without iris ; the feelers, also, are uncom- 
monly long. We have satisfied ourselves that 
he is entirely blind when first caught, although 
his eyes are so large and lustrous." 

We interrupt Professor Silliman here to sug- 
gest that the inability of the rat to see was per- 
haps owing to the unaccustomed, blinding light by 
which it was examined. It will be seen that the 



eye of the animal, gradually accustomed to light, 
finally becomes adapted to the new medium, and 
manifests the ability of exercising the sense of 
sight. This being the fact, it is to be inferred 
that the organs of vision were originally in a 
perfect condition, and afterward adapted to the 
state of darkness in which the animal existed; 
which may be conjectured to be a transitory state 
to a total obliteration of the visual organs, as has 
been accomplished in the fishes. 

Professor Silliman continues: 

" By keeping them [the rats], however, in 
captivity, and in diff'use light, they gradually 
appeared to attain some power of vision. They 
feed on apples and bread, and will not at present 
[soon after capturing them] touch animal food. 
There is no evidence that the Cave rats ever 
visit the upper air, and there was no one who 
could tell me whether they were or were not 
found there by the persons who first entered this 
place in 1802.* 

" Bats are numerous in the avenues within a 
mile or two of the mouth of the Cave, and Mr. 
Mantell thinks he has secured at least two spe- 
cies. Several specimens are preserved in alco- 

* As before stated, the Cave was not discovered until 1809. 


hol. It was not yet quite late enough in the 
season when we were at the Cave, Oct. 16th- 
22d, for all the bats to be in winter quarters, as 
the season was very open and warm. Still, in 
the galleries where they most abound, we found 
countless groups of them on the ceilings, chip- 
pering and scolding for a foothold among each 
other. On one little patch of not over four or 
five inches, we counted forty bats, and were sat- 
isfied that one hundred and twenty at least were 
able to stand on the surface of a foot square ; 
for miles they are found in patches of various 
sizes, and a cursory glance satisfied us that it 
was quite safe to estimate them by millions. In 
these gloomy and silent regions, where there is 
neither change of temperature nor difibrence of 
light to warn them of the revolving seasons, how 
do they know when to seek again the outer air 
when the winter is over, and their long sleep is 
ended ? Surely, He who made them has not left 
them without a law for the government of their 

It is supposed that the rats obtain their sub- 
sistence chiefly from the remnants of food left in 
various parts of the Cave by the visitors. 



We now turn our faces toward the outer 
world, — the world which had, until this mo- 
ment, been forgotten. We had been beguiled 
along from one scene of novelty and of grandeur 
and beauty to another; ever surprised and de- 
lighted with the endless variety, and mutely 
wondering what next would appear, until at 
length we found that we had reached the end of 
our journey — the " Ultima Thule " of the Cave, 
as Stephen was wont to say — without being con- 
scious of bodily fatigue, and without remember- 
ing that we had already been eight hours away 
from that world where the sun shines, where 
the birds sing, and the fields display their ver- 
dure. But at the moment of turning back all 
these thoughts flood over us: a sense of phys- 
ical weariness steals on us, and we are startled 
by the reflection that we are nine miles from 
the mouth of the cavern, and that there is no 
way of reaching it except by the same road over 



which we have already traveled, and by walk- 
ing. Under such circumstances we feel a keen 
appreciation of the value of horses and railroads. 

On our outward journey our party did not 
manifest the same degree of gayety or agility as 
during the inward passage. The contrast was 
striking : they filed along with heavy gait, and 
often in moody silence, — it being frequently 
necessary for the leaders to halt, count heads, 
and drum up the stragglers. All appeared will- 
ing to take advantage of every opportunity to 
be seated without being fastidious as to the 
character of the seat. 

On returning through Cleveland's Cabinet, all 
were anxious to secure specimens of the flowers, 
etc. The floor is ' strewn with fragments of 
these flowers, and visitors are privileged to take 
therefrom as many as they wish, without let or 
hinderance, but are not permitted, of course, to 
disturb those on the ceiling or walls. Many of 
the party selected the largest they could find. 
We, on the contrary, took pains to collect a va- 
riety of the smallest that would give a proper 
idea of their character, anticipating their op- 
pressive weight on the long journey yet before 
us. Our conjectures proved correct. Before 
proceeding a mile several of the party began to 
throw down their specimens without a word of 


comment. The three or four pounds that were 
in our coat pockets became an intolerable burden 
upon the shoulders and neck. A young gen- 
tleman from Virginia, a Baptist minister, who 
accompanied our party, very accommodatingly 
proposed that we should place our specimens 
with his in his handkerchief, and carry them 
alternately. By this arrangement we succeeded 
between us in bringing out a very fair collection 
of some of the minor curiosities of the Cave. 

It is unnecessary to refer to the incidents of 
our outward passage ; they possess but little of 
interest. We made our exit from the Cave, 
footsore and weary, at half-past nine o'clock in 
the evening, having been under ground for a 
period of twelve hours and a half We climbed 
the rugged hill and reached the hotel, feeling as 
though it would have been impossible to have 
walked another step. 

Though being exceedingly fatigued, for the 
reason that we had long been unaccustomed to 
much pedestrian exercise, yet we felt a thousand 
times repaid for our exhaustion in having visited 
a new world, and witnessed with our own eyes 
its multiform phases of wonder. 

Awaiting our return, we found prepared a 
bountiful supper; and, happily, all were in a 
condition to do it full justice. 



Gorin's Dome. — Pensacola Avenue. — Sparks' Avenue, and Mau- 
moth Dome. — Roaring River. — Marion's Avenue, and the Star 

After the first day's underground journey it 
is decidedly better for the tourist to take at least 
twenty-four hours repose, for the purpose of 
recuperating his physical forces, before under- 
taking further explorations. In our case our 
programme did not permit such a disposition of 
the time. 

Although we had slept soundly through the 
night, it was discovered on arising in the morn- 
ing that our muscles were exceedingly stiff and 
sore. The greater number of our party, not 
having time at their disposal for further explora- 
tions, left for the. North immediately after break- 
fast. In the mean time three or four new visit- 
ors had arrived. Our reduced party set out on 
the Short Route at half-past nine o'clock. After 
exercising for a time, and witnessing new scenes, 
we soon forgot our corporeal fatigue. 


We proceeded about one mile by the same 
route traveled the day previous, until we reached 
the Deserted Chamber. Here we left the Long 
Route, and, turning to the right, descended a 
pair of steps and entered the Labyrinth. This is 
a narrow, rugged causeway. The only object of 
interest to be found in it, says Dr. Wright, is the 
figure of the American Eagle on the left wall. 
The guide did not regard the resemblance of this 
figure to the bird, after which it is named, as very 
striking, but stated that he drew our attention 
to it for the reason that after leaving the Cave 
we would probably read in Dr. Wright's M.mual 
that in this avenue was contained the figure of 
the American Eagle, and we would then censure 
the memory of the guide for not having pointed 
it out to us. We compUmented the guide's 
views of ornithology, as also his conscientious 
discharge of duty. 

Gorin's Dome, a curiosity of considerable mag- 
nitude, is reached by passing over a small bridge 
and ascending a ladder, ten feet in height, in 
the Labyrinth. It is viewed from a natural win- 
dow", situated equidistant between the floor and 
the ceiling of the Dome. We are told by Dr. 
Wright that it is about two hundred feet in 
height and sixty feet across its widest part. The 



farther side presents a striking resemblance to an 
immense curtain, which extends from the ceiling 
to within forty feet of the floor. The window 
through which Gorin's Dome is viewed is circu- 
lar in form, and not more than two or three feet 
in diameter, allowing but one person at a time 
to enjoy the view of the interior. By imagin- 
ing an immense well or deep circular excavation 
in the earth, without any opening at top or bot- 
tom, and supposing one's self to approach it about 
the center, or at a point midway between the 
floor and ceiling, and finding a small aperture 
through which a view of it can be obtained, 
would we not feel almost as much astonished at 
the novelty of the point of view as we would on 
beholding the curiosity itself? 

Bayard Taylor speaks thus of this Dome : 
" We now reached another pit, idong the 
brink of which we walked, clambered up a ledge, 
and at last found a window-like opening, where 
Alfred (the guide) bade us pause. Leaning over 
the thin partition wall, the light of our united 
lamps disclosed a vast glimmering hall, the top 
of which vanished into darkness, and the bottom 
of which we could only conjecture by the loud, 
hollow splash of water-drops that came up out 
of the terrible gloom. Directly in front of us 


hung a gigantic mass of rock, which, in its folds 
and masses, presented a wonderful resemblance 
to a curtain. It had a regular fringe of stalac- 
tites, and there was a short outer curtain over- 
lapping it at the top. The length of this piece 
of limestone drapery could not have been less 
than one hundred feet. In a few moments, 
Alfred, who had left us, reappeared at another 
window on the right hand, where he first dropped 
some burning paper into the gulf, and then kin- 
dled a Bengal-light. It needed this illumination 
to enable us to take in the grand dimensions of 
the Dome. We could see the oval arch of the 
roof a hundred feet above our heads ; the floor 
studded with stalagmitic pedestals as far below ; 
while directly in front the huge curtain that 
hung from the center of the Dome — the veil of 
some subterranean mystery — shone rosy-white, 
and seemed to wave and swing, pendulous in the 
awful space. We were thoroughly thrilled and 
penetrated with the exceeding sublimity of the 
picture, and turned away reluctantly as the 
fires burned out, feeling that if the Cave had 
nothing else to show, its wonders had not been 

Gorin's Dome was formed in the same manner 
as the Side-Saddle Pit, which, it will be reraem- 


bered, was by the solvent action of water 
charged with carbonic acid. 

We are told that there are avenues which 
communicate with the top and bottom of the 
Dome. When Echo River rises, the floor of the 
Dome is covered with water, in which eyeless 
fish are sometimes found. 

Gorin's Dome bears the name of its discoverer, 
and former proprietor of the Cave. 

Pensacola Avenue is about a mile in length, 
from eight to sixty feet in height, and from 
thirty to one hundred in width. It is entered 
from Revelers' Hall. 

The following objects are worthy of exam- 
ination : 

1. The Sea-Turtle is about thirty feet in 
diameter. The rock of which it is composed 
has fallen from the ceiling 

2. The Wild Hall in size and appearance 
resembles Bandit's Hall. Bunyan's Way, which 
communicates with Great Relief, enters Pensa- 
cola Avenue at this point. 

3. Snowball Arched Way receives its name 
from the fact that its ceiling is covered with 
nodules of gypsum, like those in the Snowball 

4. The Great Crossing is the point at which 
four avenues take their origin. 


n^ JJi^al Steaan. IM..C1,. ThUa. 



5. Mat's Arcade is fifty yards long, thirty 
feet wide, and sixty in height. 

Between the floor and ceiUng there are four 
beautiful terraces, which extend the full length 
of the Arcade. 

There is a collection of beautiful stalactites, 
called the Pine-Apple Bush, in Mat's Arcade. 

6. Angelico Grotto, the ceiling and walls of 
which are incrusted with crystals of carbonate 
of lime, is a beautiful apartment. The artists 
have succeeded in obtaining a very handsome 
photograph of this grotto, in the couch of which 
a young girl was reclining at the time of its ex- 
ecution. We find the following lines in the 
Rev. Horace Martin's book, addressed to this 
fairy grotto: 

" Some Fairy of the oldea time 

Her dwelling sure had here, 
And here she rested, with no grief 

To shade her spirits clear. 
How fit the place for one like her — 

So fanciful and light — 
A creature jocund as the dawn, 

And as the morning bright. 
A spot like this, did he, the Bard 

Of Avon's fiow'ry stream. 
Imagine, where, in ' frenzy fine,' 

He had his wanton ' Dream.' 
Titania here might move along, 

And Puck his frolics play, 


And Hermia, in her race of love, 

Outpace the hours of day. 
The fancy sees them passing now, 

How beautiful they seem ! 
And now they're gone — we have them not, 

They vanish'd in the gloom." 

Pensacola Avenue terminates about half a 
mile beyond Angelico Grotto, in a low archway. 

Sparks' Avenue extends from River Hall to 
the Mammoth Dome, a distance of three-fourths 
of a mile. 

The objects of interest in this avenue occur 
in the foUowino; order : 

1. Bandits' Hall is sixty feet long and forty 
wide, the Hoor of which is covered with large 
rocks that have been detached from the ceiling. 
It is truly a wild-looking hall ; its appearance 
naturally suggesting the name. Here bandits 
might retire, and hold their revels in perfect 

To the right of Bandits' Hall is an avenue 
of great extent, which has not been fully ex- 
plored, called Brigg's Avenue. 

2. Newman's Spine is about ten feet in 
length, and consists of a crevice in the center 
of the ceiling, which is the exact image of a 
cast of a gigantic backbone. 

3. Sylvan Avenue extends from Sparks' 


Avenue to Clarissa's Dome, and is about three 
hundred yards in length. This avenue con- 
tains a number of ferruginous logs, which vary 
from five to fifteen inches in diameter. Some 
of them appear to be chopped in half; others 
have lost a portion of bark, displaying a white 
surface of petrous wood ; and others again look 
as though they were in a state of partial decay. 
Anywhere else these masses of stone might be 
mistaken for petrified wood. 

Clarissa's Dome is entered at its base. It 
resembles Gorin's Dome, but is much smaller. 

4. Bennett's Point is directly opposite Sylvan 
Avenue, where the avenue turns at an acute 
angle to the right. The floor of the avenue at 
this point is covered with yellow sand. 

5. Bishop's Gorge is a low and narrow part 
of the avenue, which is passed with difficulty. 

Sparks' Avenue is named in honor of Mr. 
C. A. Sparks, of New York. 

The Mammotli Dome is viewed from a ter- 
race about forty feet from its base. It is two 
hundred and fifty feet in height, and in appear- 
ance closely resembles Gorin's Dome, but is more 
than five times as large. At the left extremity 
of the dome there are five large pillars cut out of 
the solid rock, called the Corinthian Columns. 


The awful sublimity of this dome, when 
strongly illuminated, exceeds anything ever pic- 
tured to a mind frenzied by opium or hashish. 

The Mammoth Dome is still enlarging. 

The brief time that we were unfortunately 
restricted to when we visited the Cave, did 
not permit us to make a personal inspection 
of either Pensacola Avenue or Sparks' Avenue 
and Mammoth Dome, which we very much 
regret, and therefore are wholly indebted to 
Dr. Wright for the description which we have 
just given. 

Ihere are several avenues not often fre- 
quented by visitors, of which we need make 
no mention whatever, — for the very good 
reason that we have no information to offer. 

Roaring River is another portion of the Cave 
which we did not visit, but Dr. Wright informs 
us that the avenue which communicates with 
Roaring River is entered at Cascade Hall, and 
is half a mile in length. He adds, that Roar- 
ing River resembles Echo River in size and ap- 
pearance, but' has a louder echo. There is a 
cascade which falls into it, from which proceeds 
roaring sounds, and from which it has received 
its name. 

Eyeless fish and eyeless crawfish are found in 


Roaring River, as well as sunfish and black 
crawfish, both of which are provided with 

Marion's Avenue, Dr. Wright informs us, is 
about a mile and a half long, and arises in 
Washington Hall. Tt varies from twenty to 
sixty feet in width, and from eight to forty in 
height. The floor is covered with sand, and 
the walls are composed of white limestone, 
which resembles cumulus clouds. The far end 
of the avenue divides into two branches, — that 
to the right leading to Paradise and Portia's 
Parterre, and that to the left to Zoe's Grotto. 

The walls and ceiling of the avenue termed 
Paradise are covered with gypsum flowers. 
There is a dome in Paradise Avenue which 
is composed of sandstone. It is called Digby's 

Portia's Parterre is entered from the left 
wall of Paradise Avenue. It is half a mile in 
length, and contains the same kind of flowers 
that are found in Cleveland's Cabinet. It was 
discovered about twelve years ago, and is com- 
monly known as the New Discovery. 

Upon leaving Gorin's Dome we returned to 
the Giant's Coffin, on our way to the Star 


The Star Chamber is situated in the Main 
Cave, which leads off to the left^ as you enter, 
at the Giant's Coffin, as before mentioned. It 
is sixty feet in height, seventy in width, and 
about five hundred in length. The ceiling is 
composed of black gypsum, and is studded with 
innumerable white points, which, by a dim light, 
present a most striking resemblance to stars. 
These points, or stars, are produced, in part, by 
an efflorescence of Glauber's salts beneath the 
black gypsum, which causes it to scale off, and 
in part by throwing stones against it, by which 
it is detached from the white limestone. In the 
far extremity of the chamber a large mass has 
been separated, by which a white surface is ex- 
posed, termed the Comet. 

We give below the observations and remarks 
of Bayard Taylor on approaching the Star 
Chamber, and his impressions upon witnessing 
it. He says : 

"We passed several stone and frame houses, 
some of which were partly in ruin. The guide 
pointed them out as the residence of a number 
of consumptive patients, who came here in Sep- 
tember, 1843, and remained until January. 'I 
was one of the waiters who attended upon 
them,' said Alfred. ' I used to stand on that 


rock and blow the horn to call them to dmner. 
There were fifteen of them, and they looked 
more like a company of skeletons than anything 
else.' One of the number died here. His case 
was hopeless when he entered, and even when 
conscious that his end was near he refused to 
leave. I can conceive of one man being bene- 
fited by a residence in the Cave, but the idea 
of a company of lank, cadaverous invalids wan- 
dering about in the awful gloom and silence, 
broken only by their hollow coughs — doubly 
hollow and sepulchral there — is terrible. On a 
mound of earth near the Dining-Room I saw 
some cedar-trees, which had been planted there 
as an experiment. They were entirely dead, 
but the experiment can hardly be considered 
final, as the cedar is, of all trees, the most easily 
injured by being transplanted." 

It is surprising that such an observing traveler 
as Mr. Taylor should have fallen into so pal- 
pable an error as to imagine that trees, or any 
other species of vegetation, could possibly main- 
tain vitality under circumstances where light, 
moisture, and heat are absent. This part of the 
Cave is perfectly dry ; but the want of light 
would alone be sufficient to prevent, or destroy 


Mr. Taylor continues: "I now noticed that 
the ceiling became darker, and that the gray 
cornice of the walls stood out from it in strong 
relief. Presently it became a sheet of unvarying 
blackness, which reflected no light, like a cloudy 
night-sky All at once a few stars glimmered 
through the void, then more and more, and a 
firmament as far off and vast, apparently, as 
that which arches over the outer world, hung 
above our heads. We were in the celebrated 
Star Chamber. Leaning upon a rock which lay 
upon the right side of the avenue, we looked 
upward, lost in wonder at the marvelous illu- 
sion. It is impossible to describe the effect of 
this mock sky. Your reason vainly tells you 
that it is but a crust of black gypsum, sprinkled 
wdtli points of the white limestone beneath, 
seventy-five feet above your head. You see that 
it is a fathomless heaven, with its constellations 
twinkling in the illimitable space. You are no 
longer upon this earth. You are in a thunder- 
riven gorge of the mountains of Jupiter, looking 
up at the strange firmament of that darker 
planet. You see other constellations rising, far 
up in the abyss of midnight, and witness the 
occultation of remoter stars." 

The starry firmament which Mr. Taylor has 


SO graphically described, could not be seen to 
advantage under ordinary circumstances, — every 
visitor having his lamp in hand. The guide 
seats the visitors upon a bench provided for the 
purpose, placed against the right wall of the 
avenue; he then takes all the lamps from the 
party, and, stepping back ten or fifteen feet, on 
the same side, he holds them within a small 
recess naturally formed in the rock, in such a 
manner that none of the direct rays of the 
light fall upon the eyes of the beholder, but are 
thrown upon the ceiling. By this manoeuvre 
the illusion of a starry sky is as complete as it 
is possible to be ; a perfect representation of a 
comet, as if especially provided to add to the 
reality of the sublime scene, is also plainly dis- 
coverable in the distance. 

After indulging the visitors in the fascination 
of the scene long enough to produce a lasting 
impression, the guide, with the lamps, passes to 
the opposite side of the avenue, in front of us, 
leaving us seated as before, and descends into 
the -mouth of an avenue still lower. As he 
slowly disappears below, we have the finest dis- 
play of lights and shadow^s that it is possible to 
imagine. A black cloud gradually passes over 
the sky, and it is difficult to divest one's self of 



the idea that a storm is approaching. Tt needs 
bat the flash of lightning and the roar of thunder 
to make the ilUision complete. 

After producing the storm illusion, the guide 
disappears entirely with the lamps through the 
nether avenue which communicates with the one 
by which we entered several hundred yards in 
the rear. We are thus left in total darkness, 
without even the sight of the midnight sky to 
console us. Of these moments, Bayard Taylor 
remarks : "Yes, this is darkness— solid, palpable 
darkness. Stretch out your hand and you can 
^grasp it; open your mouth and it will choke 
you. Such must have been the primal chaos 
before Space was, or Form was, or ' Let there be 
light!' had been spoken. In the intense stillness 
I could hear the beating of my heart, and the 
humming sound made, by the blood in its circu- 

After waiting a short time, sufficiently long 
to enable us to appreciate the sense of total dark- 
ness, we observed the faintest rays of daylight 
in the eastern horizon ; and then, to heighten 
the illusion, we heard the well-imitated crow of 
chanticleer. Day was breaking after that period 
of awful darkness; lighter and lighter came the 
morning as the guide slowly approached, — for it 


was he, — until finally his lights came in full 
view, giving us one of the finest artificial sunrises 
that could possibly be produced. 

The sights and illusions of the Star Chamber 
are so wonderful and so complete, that when we 
reluctantly take our leave of it, we feel as though 
we had passed a night in a new world, and that 
the morning had unexpectedly broken upon us 
before our astonished faculties had had time to 
comprehend the extraordinary transition of time 
and circumstances. 

With the exception of Echo River, says Dr. 
"Wright, the Star Chamber is, perhaps, the most 
attractive object in the Cave. 

The Floating Cloud Room connects the Star 
Chamber with Proctor's Arcade. 

The clouds are produced by the scaling off of 
black gypsum from the ceiling, by an efflores- 
cence of the sulphate of soda beneath it, by which 
a white surface is exposed. They appear to be 
drifting from the Star Chamber over the Chief 
City. The Cloud Room is a quarter of a mile 
in length, and in height and width corresponds 
with the Star Chamber. 


proctor's arcade. KIXNET's arena. WRIGHT'S RO- 

Proctor's Arcade, which is entered imme- 
diately beyond the Star Chamber, is, says Dr. 
Wright, the most magnificent natural tunnel in 
the world. It is a hundred feet in width, forty- 
five in height, and three-quarters of a mile in 
length. The ceiling is smooth, and the walls 
vertical, and look as though they had been 
chiseled out of the solid rock. 

AVhen this tunnel is illuminated with a Bengal- 
light at Kinney's Arena, which is its western 
terminus, the view is magnificent beyond con- 
ception. This arcade is named in honor of Mr. 
L. J. Proctor, the proprietor of the Cave Hotel. 

Kinney's Arena is a hundred feet in diameter 
and fifty feet in height. From the ceiling, in the 
center of the Arena, there projects a stick, three 
feet in length and two inches in diameter. It 
rests parallel with the ceiling, and is inserted 


into a crevice in the rock. How it was placed 
in its present position is a difficult question to 
settle, inasmuch as it could not have been in- 
serted in the position it occupies by artificial 

After passing the S Bend, which has no par- 
ticular points of attraction, Wright's Rotunda is 

This Rotunda is four hundred feet in its 
shortest diameter. The ceiling is from ten to 
forty-five feet in height, and is perfectly level, 
the apparent difference in height being produced 
by the irregularity of the floor. It is astonish- 
ing that the ceiling has strength to sustain itself, 
for it is not more than fifty feet from the surface 
of the earth. Fortunately the Cave at this 
point is perfectly dry, and no change of any 
kind is transpiring in it, otherwise there might 
be some risk of it falling in, as evidences of such 
occurrences are to be found in the surrounding 

When this immense area is illuminated at 
the two extremes simultaneously, it presents a 
most magnificent appearance. 

At the eastern extremity of the Rotunda is a 
column, four feet in diameter, extending from 



the floor to the ceiling, termed Nicholas' Monu- 
ment, after one of the old colored guides. 

The Fox Avenue communicates with the Eo- 
tunda and S Bend. It is about five hundred 
yards in length, and is worth exploring. 

A short distance beyond Wright's Rotunda 
the Main Cave sends off several avenues or 
branches. That to the left leads to the Black 
Chamber, which is one hundred and fifty leet 
wide and twenty in height, the walls and ceil- 
ing of which are incrusted with black gypsum. 
It is the most gloomy room in the Cave. 

There are two avenues leading off to the 
right. The far one communicates with Fairy 
Grotto, which contains a most magnificent col- 
lection of stalagmites. It is a mile in length. 
The other avenue communicates with Solitary 
Cave, at the entrance of which there is a small 

" We will at once enter the Fairy Grotto of 
the Solitary Cave. It is in truth a fairy grotto; 
a countless number of stalactites are seen ex- 
tending, at irregular distances, from the roof to 
the floor, of various sizes and of the most fantas- 
tic shapes, — some quite straight, some crooked, 
some large and hollow, — forming irregularly 
fluted colunms; and some solid near the ceihng. 


and divided lower down into a great number of 
small branches like the roots of trees, exhibit- 
ing the appearance of a coral grove. Hanging 
our lamps to the incrustations on the columns, 
the grove of stalactites became faintly lighted 
up, disclosing a scene of extraordinary wildness 
and beauty. 'This is nothing to what you will 
see on the other side of the rivers,' cries our 
guide, smiling at our enthusiastic admiration. 
W>th all its present beauty, this grotto is far 
from being what it was before it was despoiled 
and robbed some eight or nine years ago by a 
set of vandals, who, through sheer wantonness, 
broke many of the stalactites, leaving them 
strewn on the floor, a disgraceful memorial of 
their vulgar propensities and barbarian-like con- 

What is called the Chief City is situated in 
the Main Cave beyond the Rocky Pass. 

It is about two hundred feet in diameter and 
forty in height. The floor is covered at different 
points with piles of rock, which present the 
appearance of the ruins of an ancient city. 

Of this, and contiguous parts of the Cave, 

* Rambles in the Mammoth Cave, during the year 1844, by a 
Visitor, pp. 54, 55. 


Bayard Taylor says : •• Just one mile from the 
Star Chamber a rough stone ckoss has been 
erected to denote that the distance has been 
carefully measured. The floor here rises con- 
siderably, which contracts the dimensions of the 
avenue, although they are still on a grand scale. 
About half a mile farther we come to the Great 
Crossings, where five avenues meet. In the dim 
light it resembled the interior of a great cathe- 
dral, whose arched roof is a hundred feet ab«ve 
its pavement. Turning to the left, at right 
angles to our former direction, we walked (still 
following the Main Avenue) some ten minutes 
farther, when the passage debouched into a spa- 
cious hall, with a cascade pouring from the very 
summit of its lofty dome. Beyond and adjoin- 
ing it was a second hall, of nearly equal dimen- 
sions, with another cascade falling from its roof. 
We turned again to the right, finding the avenue 
still more irregular and contracted than before, 
but had not advanced far before its ceiling began 
to rise, showing a long slope of loosely piled 
rocks, lying in strong relief against a back- 
ground of unfathomable darkness. 

"I climbed the rocks and sat down on the 
highest pinnacle, while Stephen descended to the 
opposite side of the slope, and kindled two or 


three Bengal-lights, which he had saved for the 
occasion. It needed a stronger illumination 
than our lamps could afford to enable me to 
comprehend the stupendous dimensions of this 
grandest of underground chambers. I will give 
the figures, but they convey only a faint idea 
of its colossal character: length, eight hundred 
feet; breadth, three hundred feet; height, one 
hundred and twenty feet; area, between four 
and five acres. Martin's picture of Satan's Coun- 
cil-Hall in Pandemonium would hardly seem ex- 
aggerated if ofiered as a representation of the 
Chief City, so far and vanishing is the per- 
spective of its extremities, so tremendous the 
span of its gigantic dome. 

" I sat upon the summit of the hill until the 
last fires had burned out, and the hall became 
even more vast and awful in the waninsr liirht of 
our lamps. Then taking a last look backward 
through the arch of the avenue, — to my mind the 
most impressive view, — we returned to the Hall 
of the Cascades. Stephen proposed showing me 
the Fairy Grotto, which was not fiir off; and to 
accomplish that end I performed a grievous 
amount of stooping and crawling in the Solitary 
Cave. The Grotto, which js a delicate stalactite 
chamber, resembling a Gothic oratory, was very 


picturesque and elegant, and I did not regret the 
trouble I had taken to reach it." v 

To show the similarity of the impressions pro- 
duced upon different individuals by these novel 
and remarkable sights, we quote from the "Vis- 
itor," who, in turn, quotes from Mr. Lee : 

" Returning from the Fairy Grotto, we entered 
the Main Cave at the Cataract, and continued 
our walk to the Chief City, or Temple, which is 
thus described by Lee, in his ' Notes on the 
Mammoth Cave': 

"'The Temple is an inmiense vault covering 
an area of two acres, and covered by a single 
dome of solid rock, one hundred and twenty feet 
high. It excels in size the Cave of Staffa ; and 
rivals the celebrated vault in the Grotto of An- 
tiparos, which is said to be the largest in the 
world. In passing through from one end to the 
other, the dome appears t(j follow like the sky in 
passing from place to place on the earth. In the 
middle of the dome there is a large mound of 
rocks rising on one side, nearly to the top, very 
steep, and forming what is called the Mountain. 
When first I ascended this mound from the Cave 
below I was struck with a feeling of awe more 
deep and intense than anything that I had ever 
before experienced. I could only observe the 


narrow circle which was illuminated immediately 
around me ; alcove and beyond was apparently an 
unlimited space, in which the ear could catch not 
the slightest sound, nor the eye find an object to 
rest upon. It was filled with silence and dark- 
ness ; and yet I knew that I was beneath the 
earth, and that this space, however large it might 
be, was actually bounded by solid walls. My 
curiosity was rather excited than gratified. In 
order that I might see the whole in one con- 
nected view I built fires in many places with 
the pieces of cane that I found scattered among 
the rocks. Then taking my stand on the Mount- 
ain, a scene was presented of surprising magnifi- 
cence. On the opposite side the strata of gray 
limestone, breaking up by steps from the bottom, 
could scarcely be discerned in the distance by the 
glimmering light. Above was the lofty dome, 
closed at the top by a smooth, oval slab, beauti- 
fully defined in the outline, from which the walls 
sloped away on the right and left into thick 
darkness. Every one has heard of the dome of 
the Mosque of St. Sophia, of St. Peter's and of 
St. Paul's ; they are never spoken of but in terms 
of admiration, as the chief works of architecture, 
and among the noblest and most stupendous ex- 
amples of what man can do when aided by 


science ; and yet when compared with the dome 
of this Temple, they sink into comparative insig- 
nificance. Such is the surpassing grandeur of 
Nature's works.' 

"To us," adds "Visitor," "the Temple seemed 
to merit the glowing description above given ; 
but what would Lee think, on being told that 
since the discovery of the rivers, and the world 
of beauties beyond them, not one person in fifty 
visits the Temple or the Fairy Grotto; they 
are now looked upon as tame and uninter- 
ng. ^ 

From these justly-merited descriptions of this 
portion of the Cave the reader may form some 
concej^tion of the surpassing beauty and mag- 
nificence of other parts, when infjrmed, as 
above, that the Chief City is now very rarely 

From the Chief City to the end of the Main 
Cave, a distance of three miles, there are 
several points at which the appearance which 
this avenue presented when filled with running 
water may be observed, where the overhanging 
cliffs closely resemble those in the Pass of El 
Ghor, of recent formation. 

* Rambles, etc., pp. 55, 56, 57. 


The Main Cave is terminated abruptly by 
rocks that have fallen from above. It must 
not, however, be supposed that this is the end 
of it, for there can be no doubt that it was 
closed at this point in the same manner as 
Dickson's Cave was terminated, and that the 
removal of the obstructing rock would open a 
communication with a cave of the same size as 
the one v^e have been attempting to describe. 

Retracing our steps by the route just passed 
over, we now return to the Second Hoppers, 
used by the saltpetre miners, mount a flight of 
wooden steps, fifteen feet high, to the right of 
the Gothic Galleries, and enter the Gothic 





Upon ascending the ladder, and entering the 
Gothic Arcade, the first object to which our 
attention is directed is what is called the Seat 
of the Mummy, which consists of a niche in the 
left wall of the avenue, about forty yards from 
the steps, just large enough to accommodate a 
human being with a comfortable seat. 

Dr. Wright informs us that the body of an 
Indian female was found in this niche, dressed 
in the skins of wild animals, and ornamented 
with the trinkets usually worn by the taborig- 
ines. We are also told, by the same authority, 
that, within a few feet distant, was at the same 
time discovered the body of an Indian child, 
attired in a similar manner, and in a sitting 
posture, resting against the wall. Both bodies 
are said to have been in a mummified condition. 
Dr. Wright suggests that they wandered into 
this avenue, and, becoming bewildered, sat 
{110) ' 


down and died in the position in which they 
were found. 

Dr. Wright does not state what became of 
the bodies, or any other particulars in addition 
to those we have just mentioned. We made 
inquiry of the guide as to what disposition had 
been made of the remains. He replied that he 
had no personal knowledge of the matter, as the 
discovery had been made long anterior to his 
Cave experience, but he had been informed that 
the bodies had been sent to Louisville, to some 
museum or medical college. We expressed 
our surprise that such extraordinary curiosities 
should have been removed from the place 
where found, — where the changes of Time were 
unknown, — or that they should have been 
carried beyond the Cave Hotel, at all events. 
The guide did not attempt any explanation. 
There are two niches in the side-wall of solid 
rock, one about large enough for an adult to sit 
in, and the other of a size adapted to a child. 
When we come to reflect upon the subject, we 
are first astonished at the thought that a woman 
and young child should venture so far, without 
companions, into the dark cavern ; and, as the 
entrance to the Gothic Arcade, from the Main 
Avenue, is effected bv the aid of a ladder fifteen 


toot hiiili. plaooil thoiv sinoi^ tho ilisoovorv of tho 
Cavo bv wliito inou.- wo iioxt n\-\)iuKm' how it 
ooiild liavo boon possiblo lor a woman ami oliiUl 
to havo inailo this dillioult asooiit without tho 
aiil oi' a buUlor, and. if possiblo, what objoot 
oonld liavo boon in viow snlVioiontly s^tron;:; to 
havo induootl tlio woman with \\ov inlant to 
havo surnunuitod snob oxtraordinarv obstaolos? 
And, at'tor ovoroomin^ all tboso ditlionltios, is it 
prosumablo that tho woman anil ohild j^hould 
havo oontinuod to wandor nntil thov llnuul two 
niohos in tho wall oxactly adaptod to thoir 
rospootivo si/.os, and thov porhaps tho oi\\\ 
niohos suitod to tho purposo in tho Cavo? 

Wo aiv somowhat surpris(Hl that Ih". Wright, 
tho latost roooiini/.od authority in oavoology, 
doos not outer moro into dotail rospooting this 
important subjoot. partionlarly as sovoral of his 
prodooossors in oavo history havo boon nnu-h 
moro minuto in thoir aooounts ol" tho disoovory 
and tho disposition oi" tho niunnnios. Not doubt- 
ing Dr. Wright's ooilviotion of tho truth oi' tho 
romarks that bo has mado upon tho subjoot. wi> 
ropoat that ho. and othors oonoornod. owo it as 
a duty to thomsolvos to oxplain io tho satisiao- 
tion ol" tho publio why tho said bodios woro n>- 
niovod from tho position in whioh they woro 


found (which, if* remaining, would have consti- 
tuted one of tlie greatest curiosities of the Cave), 
how they were disposed of, and in what condition 
they are at present. 

In our researches relating to this interesting 
subject, we believe that we have found every- 
thing of importance that has yet been published; 
}ind witli the design of laying before our readers 
the accounts that are at present accessible to but 
few, we hereby detail all that is known to us 
respecting the human mummies, and the bones 
of the lower animals, said to have been dis- 
covered in the Cave, that others may have the 
same data that we have upon which to found 
their conclusions. 

The first record that we have regarding the 
mummies is to be found in a book entitled "The 
Ifiuidred Wonders of the World, and of the 
Three Kingdoms of Nature, described according 
to the latest and best authorities, by the Rev. 
E. C. Clark," published at New Haven, 1821, 
which refers to the Mammoth Cave as one of 
the conspicuous wonders, under the title of 
" The Grciat Kentucky Cavern." 

Many of what are now regarded as the chief 
wonders ol" the Cave, however, were totally 
unknown at that date (1821). The description 



is taken from an account given by Dr. Nahum 
Ward, which was published in the "Monthly 
Magazine," so far back as October, 1816. This 
account possesses but little value at the present 
day, except in the fact that it contains the 
earliest published notice, so far as we know, 
of the discovery of human remains within the 
Cave. In speaking of the mummy, Dr. Ward 
says (p. 109) : 

" It was removed from another cave for pre- 
servation, and was presented to him (Dr. W.), 
together with the apparel, jewels, music, etc. 
with which it was accompanied. It has since 
been placed in the Washington Museum, the 
proprietor of which thinks it probable that this 
mummy is as ancient as the immense mounds 
of the Western country, which have so much 
astonished the world." 

No information is given us as to the location 
of the Washington Museum. This account does 
not contain anything further on the subject than 
above quoted, which is much to be regretted. 

Collins' Kentucky,* a work containing much 

* Historical Sketches of Kentucky : embracing its History, 
Antiquities, and Natural Curiosities, Geographical, Statistical, 
and Geological Descriptions ; with Anecdotes of Pioneer Life, and 
more than one hundred Biographical Sketches of distinguished 


valuable information regarding the early history 
of the State, but which has become so scarce that 
we were unable to procure a copy until our 
manuscript was nearly ready for the press, in 
treating upon Edmonson County, gives a very 
entertaining account of the Mammoth Cave 
(pp. 254-61). The following is the opening 
paragraph : 

" In Edmonson County is situated, perhaps 
the greatest natural wonder in the world, the 
celebrated Mammoth Cave. In no other place 
has nature exhibited her varied powers on a 
more imposing scale of grandeur and magnifi- 
cence. The materials of the following sketch 
of this Cave are derived, principally, from a 
small publication issued by Morton & Griswold, 
of Louisville, entitled '' Rambles in the Mammoth 
Cave, during the year 1844, by a Visitor.' This 
publication contains, we believe, the most com- 
plete and accurate description of this subterra- 
nean palace that has yet appeared, and gives 
the reader a very vivid conception of that amaz- 
ing profusion of grand, solemn, picturesque, and 

Pioneers, Soldiers, Statesmen, Jurists, Lawyers, Divines, etc. 
Illustrated by forty engravings. By Lewis Collins. Published 
by Lewis Collins, Maysville, Ky.; and J. A. & U. P. James, Cin- 
cinnati, 1847. 8vo, pp. 560. 


romantic scenery, which impresses every be- 
holder with astonishment and awe', and attracts 
to this Cave crowds of visitors from every quarter 
of the world." 

After speaking of the surroundings and of the 
entrance of the Cave, the author, referring, we 
suppose, to what is now known as the Rotunda, 
says : 

" The entire extent of this prodigious space 
is covered by a single rock, in which the eye 
can detect no break or interruption, save at its 
borders, which are surrounded by a broad, sweep- 
ing cornice, traced in horizontal panel work, ex- 
ceedingly noble and regular. Not a single pier 
or pillar of any kind contributes to support it. 
It needs no support ; but is 

' By its own weight made steadfast and immovable.' 

"At a very remote period," continues our au- 
thor, " this chamber seems to have been used as 
a cemetery ; and there have been disinterred 
many skeletons of gigantic dimensions, belong- 
ing to a race of people long since vanished from 
the earth. Such is the vestibule of the Mam- 
moth Cave, The walls of this chamber are so 
dark that they reflect not a single ray of light 
from the dim torches." 


This is the first intimation given by the writer 
of the discovery of liuman remains in the Cave, 
and is all that he says upon the subject in 
this place. After proceeding, however, for some 
time, describing the various objects of interest 
upon entering the Gothic Arcade, he recurs to 
the subject; and, in consideration of the fact 
that we had expressed doubts regarding the 
whole question, before this account came under 
our notice, we here quote the entire remarks 
concerning the mummies, that our readers may 
decide for themselves what amount of credibility 
the account is entitled to : 

" The Gothic Avenue, to which the visitor 
ascends from the main cave by a flight of stairs, 
is about forty feet wide, fifteen feet high, and two 
miles long. The ceiling in many places is as 
smooth and white as if formed by the trowel of 
the most skillful plasterer. In a recess on the 
left hand, elevated a few feet above the floor, 
two mummies, long since taken away, were to 
be seen in 1813. They were in good preser- 
vation, — one was a female, with her extensive 
wardrobe placed before her. Two of the miners 
found a mummy in Audubon Avenue in 1814; 
but, having concealed it, it was not found until 
1840, when it was so much injured and broken 


to pieces by the weights which had been placed 
upon it as to be of no value. There is no doubt 
that by proper efforts discoveries might be made 
which would throw light on the history of the 
early iahabitauts of this continent. A highly 
scientific gentleman of New York, one of the 
early visitors to the Cave, says in his published 
narrative : 

"•^On my first visit to the Mammoth Cave in 
1813, I saw a relic of ancient times, which re- 
quires a minute description. This description is 
from a memorandum made in the Cave at the 

"'In the digging of saltpetre-earth in the Short 
Cave a flat rock was met with by the workmen, 
a little below the surface of the earth, in the 
Cave : this stone was raised, and was about four 
feet wide, and as many long ; beneath it was a 
square excavation about three feet deep, and as 
many in length and width. In this small nether 
subterranean chamber sat in solemn silence one 
of the human species, a female, with her wardrobe 
and ornaments placed at her side. The body was 
in a state of perfect preservation, and sitting erect. 
The arms were folded up, and the hands were 
laid across the bosom ; around the two wrists w^as 
wound a small cord, designed, probably, to keep 


them in the posture in which they were first 
placed ; around the body and next thereto were 
wrapped two deer-skins. These skins appeared 
to have been dressed in some mode different from 
what is now practiced by any people of whom I 
have any kncuvledge. The hair of the skins 
was cut off very near to the surface. The skins 
were ornamented with the imprints of vines and 
leaves, which were sketched with a substance 
perfectly white. Outside of these two skins was 
a large square sheet, which was either wove or 
knit. The fabric was the inner bark of a tree, 
which I judge from appearances to be that of the 
linn-tree. In its texture and appearance it re- 
sembled the South Sea Island cloth or matting ; 
this sheet enveloped the whole body and head. 
The hair on the head was cut off within an 
eighth of an inch of the skin, except near the 
neck, where it was an inch long. The color of 
the hair was a dark-red ; the teeth were white 
and perfect. I discovered no blemish upon the 
body, except a wound between two ribs, near 
the backbone; and one of the eyes had also been 
injured. The finger and toe nails were per- 
fect and quite long. The features were regular. 
I measured the length of one of the bones of the 
arm with a string, from the elbow to the wrist- 


joint, and they equaled my own in length, viz., 
ten and a half inches. From the examination 
of the whole frame I judged the figure to be that 
of a very tall female, say five feet ten inches in 
height. The body, at the time it was discovered, 
weighed but fourteen pounds, and was perfectly 
dry; on exposure to the atmosphere, it "gained 
in weight, by absorbing dampness, four pounds. 
Many persons have expressed surprise that a 
human body of great size should weigh so little, 
as many human skeletons, of nothing but bone, 
exceed this weight. 

"'Recently experiments have been made in 
Paris which have demonstrated the fact of the 
human body being reduced to ten pounds by 
being exposed to a heated atmosphere for a long 
period of time. The color of the skin was dark, 
not black; the flesh was hard and dry upon the 
bones. At the side of the body lay a pair of 
moccasins, a knapsack-, and an indispensable, or 
reticule. I will describe these in the order in 
which I have named them. The moccasins 
were made of wove or knit bark, like the wrap- 
per I have described. Around the top was a 
border to add strength, and perhaps as an orna- 
ment. These were of middling size, denoting 
feet of a small size. The shape of the mocca- 


sins differs but little from the deer-skin mocca- 
sins worn by the northern Indians. The knap- 
sack was of wove or knit bark, with a deep, 
strong border around the top, and was about the 
size of knapsacks used by soldiers. The work- 
manship of it was neat, and such as would do 
credit, as a fabric, to a manufacturer of the 
present day. The reticule was also made of 
wove or knit bark. The shape was much like a 
horseman's valise, opening its whole length on 
the top. On the side of the opening, and a few 
inches from it, were two rows of loops, one row 
on each side. Two cords were fastened to the 
reticule at the top, which were passed through 
the loop on one side, and then on the other side, 
the whole length, by which it was laced up and 
secured. The edges of the top of the reticule 
were strengthened with deep, fancy borders. 
The articles contained in the knapsack and reti- 
cule were quite numerous, and were as follows: 
one head-cap, made of wove or knit bark, with- 
out any border, and of the shape of the plainest 
night-cap ; seven head-dresses, made of the quills 
of large birds, and put together somewhat in the 
way that feather-fans are made, except that the 
pipes of the quills are not drawn to a point, but 
are spread out in straight lines with the top. 



This was done by perforating the pipe of the 
quill in two places, and runnipg two cords 
through the holes, and then winding around the 
quills and the cord fine thread to fasten each 
quill in the place designed for it. These cords 
extended some length beyond the quills on each 
side, so that on placing the feathers erect the 
cords could be tied together at the back of the 
head. This would enable the wearer to present 
a beautiful display of feathers standing erect, 
and extending a distance above the head and 
entirely surrounding it. These were most splen- 
did head-dresses, and would be a magnificent 
ornament to the head of a female at the present 
day. Several hundred strings of beads ; these 
consisted of very hard, brown seed, smaller than 
hemp-seed, in each of which a small hole had 
been made, and through the whole a small three- 
corded thread, similar in appearance and texture 
to seine twine; these were tied up in bunches, 
as a merchant ties up coral-beads when he ex- 
poses them for sale. The red hoofs of fawns 
on a string supposed to be worn around the neck 
as a necklace. These hoofs were about~twenty 
in number, and may have been emblematic of 
innocence. The claw of an eagle, with a hole 
made in it, through which a cord was passed, so 



that it could be worn pendant from the neck. 
The jaw of a bear, designed to be worn in the 
same manner as the eagle's claw, and supplied 
with a cord to suspend it around the neck. Two 
rattlesnake-skins ; one of these had fourteen rat- 
tles ; these skins were neatly folded up. Some 
vegetable colors done up in leaves. A small 
bunch of deer sinews, resembling catgut in ap- 
pearance. Several bunches of thread and twine, 
two and three-threaded, some of which were 
nearly white. Seven needles, some of which 
were of horn and some of bone ; they were 
smooth, and appeared to have been much used. 
These needles had each a knob or whorl on the 
top, and at the other end were brought to a 
point like a large sail-needle. They had no 
eyelets to receive a thread. The top of one of 
these needles was handsomely scolloped. A 
hand-piece made of deer-skin, with a hole 
through it for the thumb, and designed proba- 
bly to protect the hand in the use of the needle, 
the same as thimbles are now used. Two whis- 
tles, about eight inches long, made of cane, with 
a joint about one-third the length ; over the 
joint is an opening extending to each side of the 
tube of the whistle ; these, openings were about 
three-quarters of an inch long and an inch wide, 


and had each a flat reed placed in the opening. 
These whistles were tied together with a cord 
wound around them. 

" ' I have been thus minute in describing this 
mute witness from the days of other times, and 
the articles which were deposited within her 
earthly house. Of the race of people to whom 
she belonged when living we know nothing ; and, 
as to conjecture, the reader who gathers from 
these pages this account can judge of the matter 
as well as those who saw the remnant of mor- 
tality in the subterranean chambers in which 
she was entombed. The cause of the preserva- 
tion of her body, dress, and ornaments is no 
mystery. The dry atmosphere of the Cave, with 
the nitrate of lime with which the earth that 
covers the bottom of these nether palaces is so 
highly impregnated, preserves animal flesh, and 
it will neither putrefy nor decompose when con- 
fined to its unchanging action. Heat and moist- 
ure are both absent frorai the Cave, and it is 
these two agents acting together which produce 
both animal and vegetable decomposition and 

"'In the ornaments, etc. of this mute witness 
of ages gone we have a record of olden time, 
from which, in the absence of a written record, 


we may draw some conclusions. In the various 
articles which constituted her ornaments there 
were no metallic substances ; in the make of 
her dress there is no evidence of the use of any 
other machinery than the bone and horn needles. 
The beads are of a substance of the use of which 
for such purposes we have no account among 
people of whom we have any written record. 
She had no warlike arms. By what process the 
hair of the head was cut short, or by what j)ro- 
cess the deer-skins were shorn, we have no means 
of conjecture. These articles afford us the same 
means of judging of the nation to which she be- 
longed, and of their advances in the arts, that 
future generations will have in the exhumation 
of a tenant of one of our modern tombs, with 
the funeral shroud, etc. in a state of like pres- 
ervation, with this difference, that with the 
present inhabitants of this section of the globe 
but few articles of ornament are deposited with 
the body. The features of this ancient member 
of the human family much resembled those of a 
tall, handsome, American woman. The fore- 
head was high, and the head well formed.'" 

This constitutes what appears to be, in the 
estimation of the historian of Kentucky, the 
most valuable part of the history of the Mam- 



moth Cave. The name of the writer is not 
given. It is simply stated that the account of 
this mummy was published " by a highly scien- 
tific gentleman of New York, one of the early 
visitors of the Cave." 

In examining Collins' account of the Cave, from 
whom we had a right to expect a very full his- 
tory, — for he speaks of it as being "perhaps the 
greatest natural curiosity of the world," — we were 
much disappointed to find that all reference to 
its early history was omitted. He does not state 
the year of the discovery, by whom it was dis- 
covered, or what led to its discovery. In this 
respect the letter we give from Mr, Gorin con- 
tains information that, to our knowledge, has 
not hitherto been published. Mr. C. dwells at 
great length on what we regard as minor points 
of interest, while Echo River and the great 
curiosities beyond are scarcely mentioned, and 
no attempt made at description, the whole being 
summarily dismissed with _ the remark that " a 
detailed description of these wonders would not 
consist with the plan of this work." And this 
statement is made after the minute description 
of the mummies and their ornaments. 

The work before mentioned, entitled " The 
Universe; or. The Infinitely Great and the In- 


finitely Small," by F. A. Poucher, M.D., Corre- 
sponding Member of the Institute of France, 
etc., translated from the French, illustrated, 
and published by Charles Scribner & Co., New 
York, 1870, has recently fallen under our notice 
CMarch, 1870). The, character of the work is 
not very definitely implied in the title; it is de- 
signed as a popular natural history, and treats 
of botany, zoology, ornithology, geology, etc. 
Under the latter head five or six pages are de- 
voted to an account of the Mammoth Cave. Of 
the nature of the curiosity the author remarks : 

"The Mammoth Cave of the United States 
owes its renown not to the celebrity of those who 
have visited it, but to its extent, which is per- 
haps greater than that of any other existing Cave." 

Again he says : 

"The Mammoth Cave is always an object of 
great interest to the Americans. They go there 
in crowds, and there is not always accommoda- 
tion in the great hotel intended to receive the 
tourists, although it is arranged for three hun- 
dred guests.* 

* In the above paragraph the author commits two errors : 
Americans do not go in crowds, as they should ; and the enter- 
prising and gentlemanly proprietor of the hotel, Mr. L. J. Proc- 
tor, has so far always been able to accommodate satisfactorily all 
the crowds that have presented themselves. 


" The exploration requires five or six days, 
and an army of guides is always J5:ept for the 
service of travelers." 

Farther on the author states that, " Up to the 
present time 226 avenues have been made out, 
besides 57 domes, 11 lakes, 7 rivers, 8 cataracts, 
and 32 abysses, some of which are of immense 
depth." Those readers who have followed us 
closely will recognize that the above estimate is 
considerably magnified, on the principle, we pre- 
sume, that "distance lends enchantment to the 
view;" for it does not appear in the record that 
the writer had ever made a personal inspection 
of the things whereof he speaks. 

Dr. Poucher speaks of the human mummies 
and human skeletons found in the Cave; also, 
of the discovery therein of the bones of the bear, 
hyena, and mastodon. We are not aware that 
he obtained this information from any American 
authority. Indeed, he does not cite authorities 
for any of his assertions regarding the Cave. 
Dr. P. mentions the blind fishes of the Cave, and 
gives a tolerably accurate diagram of them. He 
does not refer to the recognized name given them 
by Professor Agassiz [Amhiyopsis spelseus), but 
calls them Cyprinodonts. He adds that they 
appear to be devoid of eyes. This question, as 


our readers will have already learned, has long 
since been settled in this country. Dr. P. also 
alludes to the fact that the Cave has been (and 
he appears to think still is) used as a sanitarium, 
— speaking of it as "the sulphurous atmosphere in 
which medical men kept their patients afflicted 
with chest affections." Of all affections those of 
the chest would be the most aggravated by a 
sulphurous atmosphere; and we are surprised 
that Dr. P., a medical man, should make such a 
statement without interposing an interjection of 
astonishment, and without giving his authority 
for it. There is no sulphurous atmosphere in 
any part of the Cave, though one or two sul- 
phur springs are found. 

In connection with Dr. Poucher's remarks 
upon the Mammoth Cave there is an illustration 
of a view of the Dead Sea, which is drawn en- 
tirely from fancy. There is also another very 
conspicuous illustration of the River Styx. In 
the scene a boat is represented, propelled by a 
negro standing in the prow, with a single oar or 
paddle, who is shown to be hatless and naked 
to the loins,* and appears to be making frantic 

* The negro cannot endure as much cold as the white man, 
and it can scarcely be presumed that he would enjoy any amount 
of comfort in this condition at the temperature of 59°. 


efforts to advance, as though hoping thereby to 
escape from some desperate pursiier. In the 
stern sits a white man holding in his hand, in 
front and above his head, a flaming torch, strain- 
ing his eyes as if in expectation of discovering 
in the impenetrable darkness before him the 
forbidding gnomes of this nether world. This 
picture is in striking contrast with the reality. 
Instead of the wild excitement manifested in 
the countenances of the boatman and voyager, 
this passage is one of the calmest, most placid, 
and dreamy that can be imagined ; it is a quiet, 
though grand, embarkation " over the smooth 
surface of the summer sea," where no fear is 
ever felt regarding the intrusion of evil spirits. 

Dr. Poucher's notice of the Mammoth Cave, 
we are compelled to say, is full of errors : there 
is scarcely a paragraph that can be accepted as 
literally true. 

The discovery of so many errors upon this 
subject (the Cave) in such a pretentious and 
expensive work as that of Dr. Poucher's Universe, 
at this late date (1870), the more clearly con- 
vinces us of the necessity for the publication of 
an historical narrative of the Cave which, while 
entering more fully into detail than any previous 
work on the subject, can be relied upon as accu- 


rate in its statements, so far as their nature is 
susceptible of positive demonstration. 

The most recent, and best authenticated in- 
formation we have been able to find upon the 
subject of the Cave Mummies, is contained in a 
letter from Mr. Proctor, the present proprietor 
of the hotel, dated March 12, 1870. He says 
(in reply to our inquiries) : 

" There was a mummy found in the Mammoth 
Cave, and one in Short Cave, a cave in the 
neighborhood of the Mammoth. The one in 
Mammoth Cave was found in the Gothic 
Avenue, in 1815, by Mr. Ward, of Marietta, 
Ohio, and was sent to the Antiquarian Society 
of Worcester, Massachusetts, and is now there, 
as I learn by a letter of the Secretary of the 
Society ; but is in a dilapidated condition. The 
one found in the Short Cave was taken and 
placed in the Museum at Cincinnati, and was 
burnt with that establishment many years ago. 
I have in my possession a photograph of the one 
taken out of the Gothic Avenue by Mr. Ward, 
in 1815." 

In concluding our remarks on this subject, we 
emphatically agree with the author of ''Rambles 
of a Visitor," etc. when he says, "The removal 
of those mummies from the place in which they 


were found can be viewed as little less than 
sacrilege. There they had been, perhaps, for 
centuries, and there they ought to have been 
left." The author adds, " What has become of 
them I know not. One of them, it is said, was 
lost in the burning of the Cincinnati Museum. 
The wardrobe of the female was given to a Mr. 
Ward, of Massachusetts, who, I believe, pre- 
sented it to the British Museum." 

Note. — An article of some length, entitled "Underground 
Territories of the United States," appeared in "The Interna- 
tional Magazine of Literature and Science,'' published by Stringer 
& Townsend, New York, in 1852 (vol. v.). The writer remarks: 

" In Virginia, New York, and other States, the caves of Weyer, 
Schoharie, and many that are less famous, but not inferior in 
beauty or grandeur, are well known to travelers ; but the Mam- 
moth Cave under Kentucky is world-renowned ; and such felon 
States as Naples might hide in it from the scorn of mankind." 

It is stated that the paper was prepared " chiefly from a letter 
by Mrs. Child, a very full description of this eighth wonder of the 
world — illustrated by engravings from recent drawings made, . 
under the direction of the Rev. Horace Martin, who proposes 
soon to furnish for tourists an ample volume on the subject." 

The writer speaks of the mummies found in the Cave, and adds, 
" I believe that one of these mummies is now in the British 

Nearly all the materials of which this article was composed, 
including the illustrations, were subsequently incorporated in 
Mr. Martin's book, from which we have repeatedly quoted. The 
original, however, did not come under our notice until quite 

We will also state that, since our text has been in type, we 


have obtained a copy of " The Mouthly Mao'azine ; or, British 
Register; reprinted, with American Intelligence, in Boston, 
U. S." In the number for April, 1816, under the head of Ameri- 
can Intelligence, is given a " Description of the Great Cave in 
Warren [now Edmonson] County, Kentucky. — Extract of a 
letter from Dr. Nahum Ward, formerly of Shrewsbury, Massa- 
chusetts, now resident in the Western country, to his friend in 
Worcester, giving an account of an excursion in Kentucky in the 
fall of last year; dated Marietta, April 4, 1816." 

This account appears to be copied from a newspaper called the 
"Worcester Spy;" and this is the original publication, of the 
history of the mummy which we have extracted from " Collins' 
Kentucky." "The Monthly Magazine," however, did not copy 
the details relative to the mummy (dress, ornaments, etc.) which 
we have seen was so fully copied by Mr. Collins. We find 
nothing in this article the quotation of which would afford addi- 
tional interest to our readers. In a subsequent number of the 
same magazine, July, 1816, Dr. Ward furnished a map of the 
Cave, together with an engraving of the mummy which was 
therein found, and with which he had been presented. 

The map, of course, is chiefly drawn from imagination : at that 
early date no surveys had been attempted. Nearly all the names 
by which the various parts of the Cave were then described have, 
since that date, been changed. 

As might naturally be expected in describing a curiosity so 
extraordinary in its dimensions and characteristics, and of which 
so little was known at that day, we find considerable exaggera- 
tion and some misstatements in the account of Dr. Ward. He 
speaks of various chambe. . jich constitute an area of from six 
to eight acres, and estimates that he explored a continuous avenue 
to the distance of eleven miles. The "Bottomless Pit" was not 
crossed for more than twenty years afterward ; and the extreme 
length of the " Long Route," now known, does not exceed nine 
miles. The writer also speaks of Green River as passing over 
several of the avenues of the Cave, the incorrectness of which 
statement has long since been eistablished. 



The drawing of the mmnmy, which accompanies Dr. Ward's 
map, represents much more faithfully the features and form of the 
male than the female. It is in the sitting posit-iou, with the arms 
folded across the breast, — the position which it is represented to 
have occupied when discovered. 

The map, the drawing of the mummy, and the account of the 
Cave, as furnished by Dr. Ward and Mrs. Child, are interesting 
to the student of the Cave history, but, at the present day, are 
really of no practical value ; and we simply note the articles in 
these magazines to indicate to our readers the character of the 
field over which we have traveled in pursuing our design of mak- 
ing our work as complete as possible. 



It is said that a person lost in the Cave, with- 
out any hope of escape, would undoubtedly die 
in a very short time. That this is the case the 
history of those who have been lost in it would 
seem to prove. 

Thus, on one occasion, says Dr. Wright, a gen- 
tleman wandered from his party, when by some 
accident his lamp was extinguished. In endeav- 
oring to make his escape he became alarmed, 
and finally insane, and crawling behind a large 
rock, remained in that position for forty-eight 
hours ; and although the guides repeatedly passed 
the rock behind which he was secreted, in search 
for him, he did not make the slightest noise; and 
when finally discovered, endeavored to make his 
escape from them, but was too much exhausted 
to do so. 

In another instance, we are told, a lady 
allowed her party to get so far in advance that 



their voices could no longer be heard, and in 
attempting to overtake them, fell and extin- 
guished her lamp, when she became so terrified 
at her situation that she swooned ; and when 
discovered a few minutes afterward, and restored, 
she was found to be in a state of insanity, from 
which she did not recover for a number of years. 

The author of " Rambles," etc. quotes the 
following case from the author of "Calavar:" 

"In the Lower Branch is a room called the 
Salts Room, which produces considerable quan- 
tities of the sulphate of magnesia, or of soda, we 
forget which, — a mineral that the proprietor of 
the Cave did not fail to turn to account. The 
miner in question was a new, raw hand, — of 
course neither very well acquainted with the 
Cave itself, nor with the approved modes of 
averting or repairing accidents, to which, from 
the nature of their occupation, the miners were 
greatly exposed. Having been sent, one day, in 
charge of an older workman, to the Salts Room 
to dig a few sacks of the salt, and finding that 
the path to this sequestered nook was perfectly 
plain; and that, from the Haunted Chambers 
being a single continuous passage without 
branches, it was impossible to wander from it, 
our hero disdained, on his second visit, to seek or 


accept assistance, and trudged off to his work 
alone. The circumstance being common enough, 
he was speedily forgotten by his brother miners ; 
and it was not until several hours after, when 
they had left ofi' their toil for the more agreea- 
ble duty of eating their dinner, that his absence 
was remarked, and his heroical resolution to 
make his way alone to the Salts Room remem- 
bered. As it was apparent, from the time he 
had been gone, that some accident must have 
happened to him, half a dozen men, most of 
them negroes, stripped half naked, their usual 
working costume, were sent to hunt him up; a 
task supposed to be of no great difficulty, unless 
he had fallen into a pit. In the mean while the 
poor miner, it seems, had succeeded in reaching 
the Salts Room, filling his sack, and retracing 
his steps half way back to the Grand Gallery ; 
when, finding the distance greater than he 
thought it ought to be, the conceit entered his 
unlucky brain that he might, perhaps, be going 
wrong. No sooner had the suspicion struck 
him than he fell into a violent terror, dropped 
his sack, ran backward, then returned, then ran 
back again, — each time more frightened and be- 
wildered than before; until, at last, he ended his 
adventure by tumbling over a stone and extin- 



guishing his lamp. Thus left in the dark, not 
knowing where to turn, frightened out of his 
wits besides, he fell to remembering his sins — 
always remembered by those who are lost in the 
Cave — and praying with all his might for succor. 
But hours passed away, and assistance came not; 
the poor fellow's frenzy increased ; he felt himself 
a doomed man ; he thought his terrible situation 
was a judgment imposed on him for his wicked- 
ness ; nay, he even believed, at last, that he was 
no longer an inhabitant of the earth, — that he 
had been translated, even in the body, to the 
place of torment ; — in other words, that he was 
in hell itself, the prey of the devils, who would 
presently be let loose upon him. It was at this 
moment that the miners in search of him made 
their appearance. They lighted upon his sack, 
lying where he had thrown it, and set up a great 
shout, which was the first intimation he had of 
their approach. He started up, and seeing them 
in the distance, the half-naked negroes in ad- 
vance, all swinging their torches aloft, he, not 
doubting that they were those identical devils 
whose appearance he had been expecting, took 
to his heels, yelling for mercy ; nor did he stop, 
notwithstanding the calls of his amazed friends, 
until he had fallen a second time over the rocks, 


where he lay on his face, roaring for pity, until, 
by dint of much pulling and shaking, he was 
convinced that he was still in the world and the 
Mammoth Cave." 

Such is the story of the Haunted Chambers, 
the name having been given to commemorate 
this incident. 

Not a year passes, we are informed, but the 
guides have to go in search of persons who have 
been foolhardy enough to leave their party, and 
who, in every instance, become speedily bewil- 
dered, and when discovered are in the act of 
crying or at prayer. In such cases the guides 
are overpowered with kisses, embraces, and other 
demonstrations of gratitude. 

The proper course for persons to pursue when 
lost in the Cave is for them to remain in the 
place where they first became confused, and 
not to stir from it until rescued by the guides. 
They will not have to wait more than from 
three to ten hours from the time at which they 
should have returned to the hotel. 



The Register Room. — Gothic Chapel. — Romantic Marriage. — 
How the Stalactites and Stalagmites are formed. — Bona- 
parte's Breastworks. — The Devil's Arm-chair. — Elephant's 
Head. — Lover's Leap. — Gatewood's Dining-table. — Napoleon's 
Dome. — Lake Purity. — Return to Daylight. 

The Gothic Arcade is entered by ascending 
a flight of steps, as before mentioned ; and, 
after passing the seat of the Mummy a short 
distance, there is to be found a large stalactite, 
which extends from the floor to the ceiling, 
termed the Post Oak, from its fancied resem- 
blance to a variety of oak-tree that grows in the 
vicinity of the Cave. 

The First Echo is the name given to that 
part of Gothic Arcade which passes over Pen- 
sacola Avenue, the floor of which, when 
forcibly struck, emits a hollow sound. This 
hollow sound is observed even in walking, — 
conveying the impression that some danger 
of falling through might result from too heavy 
a tread. 



For more than a quarter of a mile this 
avenue has a ceiling perfectly flat, with every 
appearance of having received a coat of plaster. 
It is smoked over in all parts with the names of 
vulgar visitors, from which circumstance one 
locality is called the Register Room. Persons 
formerly carried candles in their trips through 
the Cave, and, by tying them to poles, suc- 
ceeded in not only smoking their names upon 
the ceiling, from eight to sixteen feet overhead, 
but in many instances their portraits, — for there 
were frequently rude attempts at drawing the 
figures of sheep and pigs, as we are told by 
Bayard Taylor, and as every visitor may see 
for himself The lamps now in use are much 
more convenient for carrying, and have the 
additional advantage of guarding against all 
such desecration. 

The Register Room, to use the words of Dr. 
Wright, is about three hundred feet long, forty 
wide, and from eight to sixteen in height. The 
ceiling is white, and as smooth as though it had 
been plastered. In this room hundreds of per- 
sons have displayed their bankruptcy in every- 
thing pertaining to good breeding and taste by 
tracing their obscure names on the ceiling with 
the smoke of a candle. 


After passing the Register Room, the ceiling 
gradually becomes broken and rugged, studded 
here and there with unfinished stalactites. 

The next point of interest reached is the 
Gothic Chapel. This is a large room, the 
ceiling of which appears to be supported by 
gigantic stalactites, which extend -to the floor. 
These stony icicles become large enough to form 
ribbed pillars and fair Gothic arches. When a 
number of lamps are hung upon these columns, 
this room presents a beautiful appearance. 

We are informed that a romantic marriage 
once took place in this chapel, which family in- 
terference prevented occurring on the earth. It 
is said that the fair lady, whose lover was op- 
posed by her parents, in a rash moment prom- 
ised them that she would never marry her be- 
trothed on tlie face of the earth. Afterward, 
repenting her promise, but being unable to re- 
tract, and unwilling to violate it, she fulfilled her 
vow to her parents, as well as to her lover, by 
marrying him under the earth. This is but an- 
other illustration of the proverbially ingenious 
management of woman. 

Two of the stalactites in this chapel are called 
the Pillars of Hercules, which are said to be 
thirty feet in circumference; and we are told 



that, in the formation of a stalactite, a period 
of fifty years is required to produce an incrusta- 
tion of the thickness of a wafer. We have not 
attempted to calculate the time necessary, at 
this rate, to form a stalactite of the size named. 
Geologists, in estimating the antiquity of the 
origin of the earth, might find important data 
here that, to our knowledge, has not been here- 
tofore used. But it would be impossible to ap- 
proximate accuracy in such calculations, from 
the fact that it may have been, for all we know, 
twentj^ thousand years since the cessation of the 
process of formation, for this appears to be one 
of the oldest avenues in the Cave. 

To the ceiling of the Chapel are attached 
great numbers of small stalactites, from six to 
eighteen inches in length, giving a very singular 
and handsome view overhead. 

The Gothic Chapel has been very accurately 
and strikingly photographed by the parties be- 
fore mentioned. 

Speaking of the immense stalactites found in 
Gothic Chapel, reminds us that we have not ex- 
plained the meaning of the terras "stalactite" 
and " stalagmite," which formations being pecu- 
liar to caves, it is presumed that the majority of 
* readers are not familiar with the process of their 


formation. We will explain the process in the 
language of Dr. Wright, which we do not think 
can be improved upon either in point of fact or 
brevity : 

"When water, holding the bicarbonate of 
lime in solution, drops slowly from the ceiling, 
by which it is exposed to the air sufficiently 
long to allow the escape of one equivalent of car- 
bonic acid gas, the lime is deposited in the form 
of the proto-carbonate of lime. If the deposit 
occurs in such a manner that the accumulation 
takes place from above downward, in the form 
of an icicle, it constitutes what is termed a sfa- 
lactite; but if it accumulates from below up- 
ward, it is called a stalagmite. Stalactites and 
stalagmites frequently meet in the center and 
become cemented, by which a column of support 
is formed." 

If the limestone which forms the stalactite is 
perfectly pure, it will be white, or semi-transpa- 
rent; if it contains oxide of iron, it will be of a 
red or yellowish color. The black stalactites 
contain a large proportion of the black oxide of 

Leaving Gothic Chapel, and pursuing our 
course, we are next introduced to Vulcan's 
Smithy, a room the floor of which is strewn* 




with stalagmitic nodules, colored with the black 
oxide of iron, which resemble the cinders of a 
blacksmith's shop. 

Bonaparte's Breastworks, immediately be- 
yond, consist of a ledge of rocks that have 
been detached from the side of the avenue 
against which they rest. 

The Arm- Chair, called by the guides the 
Devil's Arm-Chair, is the next object of interest. 
It is formed by the union of stalagmites and 
stalactites. It is told that the celebrated Jenny 
Lind rested in this Chair for some time during 
her visit to the Cave. Unless we make the 
statement ourself, we fear it will not be handed 
down to posterity, that we also rested for a few 
moments in the same regal Chair ! The Chair is 
rather high for convenience ; but still it accom- 
modates an individual very comfortably. 

The Elephant's Head is a large stalagmite, 
projecting from the left wall of the avenue, 
which is supposed to bear a striking resemblance 
to the head of the animal for which it is named. 

A rock projecting sixteen feet over a pit 
which is seventy feet in depth, is fancifully 
denominated the Lover's Leap. It is not re- 
corded, however, that any lover ever regarded 
his case so extremely desperate as to have 



induced him to take this fearful "leap iu the 

After passing down a very precipitous bank, 
some thirty or forty feet on the left side of 
Lover's LeajD, we enter a narrow avenue, very 
properly termed the Elbow Crevice. This 
avenue, though not more than from three to 
five feet wide, is fifty feet high, and twenty 
feet in length. It is another Fat Man's Misery, 
on an enlarged scale. 

Gatewood's Dining-Table is a flat rock which 
has been detached from the ceiling. It is about 
twelve feet long and eight wide, and is named 
after one of the former proprietors. 

Next we reach Napoleon's Dome, which is 
fifty feet high, and from twenty to thirty wide. 
It was formed in the same manner as, and very 
much resembles, Corinna's Dome, in the Pass of 
El Ghor. 

A pool of perfectly transparent water, called 
Lake Purity, is situated directly under Vulcan's 
Smithy ; large amounts of the cinder-like for- 
mations are to be seen in and around the minia- 
ture lake. Many small stalagmites are found 
in the bottom of the pool, which is quite 
shallow. By the aid of the guide we sue- 


ceeded in breaking off and securing two or 
three small specimens of the stalagmites from 
the bottom of Lake Purity. 

The Gothic Arcade terminates half a mile 
beyond Lake Purity, in a dome and small cas- 
cade ; but visitors are rarely conducted beyond 
the lake. 

This was the final end of our explorations in 
the Mammoth Cave. We retraced our steps to 
the Main Avenue, and wended our way to the 
mouth of the Cave. At the time of our exit on 
this occasion the daylight still prevailed, and 
the bright sunshine, besides being painful to the 
retina, presented a most singular appearance to 
our temporarily unaccustomed sight. Upon 
reaching the entrance, and looking out from 
behind the falling skein of water, the trees 
seemed to be illuminated with an unnatural 
fire. The daylight had a warm yellow hue, 
intensely bright, and the sky was paler, but 
more luminous than usual. The air, by con- 
trast with the exhilarating and pure atmos- 
phere of the Cave, felt close, unpleasantly 
warm, and oppressive, — like that of an ill-ven- 
tilated greenhouse in winter. There was too 
much perfume in it, — too many varieties of 



vegetable smells; for a short absence in the 
Cave, as before remarked, produces great acute- 
ness of the olfactory nerves. A few minutes 
only, however, are required, after leaving the 
Cave, to enable the senses of sight and smell to 
resume their normal conditions. 



Before quitting the Cave, we will refer to its 
sanitary influences. This was an interesting 
question some years ago. It has been asked 
what diseases are benefited, and what diseases 
are aggravated, by a brief Cave residence. 

Persons afflicted with pulmonary consump- 
tion at one time resorted to the Cave for the 
benefit of its pure air and uniform temperature, 
in the vain hope of recovery. Several of them 
died there, and all of them succumbed soon after 
exposure to the external air. One patient did 
not see the light of the sun for a period of five 

Several cottages, previously spoken of, built 
over twenty -five years ago, for the residence of 
consumptives, at the entrance of Audubon's 
Avenue, and within the Gothic Arcade, are 
still to be seen. The idea that consumptive 
patients could be cured by a residence in the 

18* ( 209 ) 


Cave must have resulted from a total miscon- 
ception of the nature of the, as it is 
well known to the medical profession that the 
absence of light will develop the scrofulous 
diathesis, and cause a deposit of tubercles in the 

The truth of this position was established in 
the cases of those who resorted to the Cave for 
relief; and the majority of those who remained 
any considerable length of time died within 
periods varying from three days to three weeks 
after leaving it. Those patients who remained 
in the Cave three or four months presented a 
frightful appearance. The face was entirely 
bloodless, eyes sunken, and pupils dilated to 
such a degree that the iris ceased to be visible, 
so that, no matter what the original color 
of the eye might have been, it soon appeared 

Very few diseases, not even consumption, are 
aggravated by short and easy trips in the Cave. 
Chronic dysentery and diarrhoea are said to 
have been cured by a short visit to the Cave, 
after all the usual remedies had failed. 

In those diseases in which absolute silence 
and the total exclusion of light are indicated, 
the Cave, above all other places, possesses pre- 


eminent advantages; for nowhere else have we 
these conditions combined. Hence it may be 
inferred that brain affections — abnormal excite- 
ment of the brain, incipient insanity, etc. — would 
undoubtedly be benefited by a temporary Cave 
residence. But loractieaUy we cannot assign any 
sanative virtues to a residence in the Cave. Too 
many conditions are absent that are necessary 
for the comfort and happiness of the patient. 
Dr. Wright remarks : " The only condition in 
which risk is incurred is during the menstrual 
period. Serious, and even fatal, results have 
been the consequence of inattention to this fact." 
No reason is assigned for this assertion, and we 
are unable to conjecture any ; on the contrary, 
one or two instances have come under our notice 
where no bad effects resulted. 

It is surprising how rapidly the quieting influ- 
ence is felt in the Cave, it being indicated by 
pallor of the cheeks, yawning, and an almost 
irresistible tendency to sleep. Upon the first 
visit to the Cave this disposition is not so 
strongly manifested, for the reason that the 
attention is so constantly attracted by the 
novelty of the situation, and the ever-changing 
and extraordinary sights. This tendency to 
sleep is not due to any impurity of the atmos- 


phere, — for, as already stated, it contains less 
carbonic acid than the outer air,-r-but is refer- 
able solely to the complete silence and total 
absence of light. 

Owing to the purity of the atmosphere and the 
even temperature, even delicate persons are ena- 
bled to take a much greater amount of physical 
exercise in the Cave than without. It is not an 
uncommon occurrence for an individual in deli- 
cate health to accomplish a journey of eighteen 
or twenty miles in the Cave, without suffering 
unusually from fatigue, who could not be pre- 
vailed upon to walk a distance of three miles on 
the surface of the earth. 

After having accomplished our first day's jour- 
ney in the Cave, we remarked to one of the 
gentlemen connected with the hotel, that we 
supposed ladies must suffer extremely from 
fatigue in going through the Long Route. He 
replied that such was not the case; and stated 
that, as a general rule, ladies endure the journey 
much better than men; and added that it was 
not an uncommon occurrence for ladies, after 
coming out in the evening, from a walk of 
eighteen miles, to enter the ball-room and dance 
until two o'clock in the morning! 



We now take our leave of that dark, "mys- 
terious realm," a wiser, if not a better man. 

In the language of Professor Silliman, in the 
same article before quoted from, "I wish all my 
scientific friends could visit the Mammoth Cave ; 
it teaches many lessons in a manner not to be 
learned so well elsewhere, and in this respect I 
was agreeably disappointed. I had heard that 
its interest was chiefly scenic; but I found it 
to exceed my utmost expectations as well in 
its illustrations of geological truth as in the 
wonderful character of its features. I will not 
detain you," he continues, "with any attempts at 
description of single parts, as no description can 
awaken those peculiar and deep emotions which 
a personal study of its details is calculated to 

In closing our narrative of the Cave we can- 
not more appropriately conclude than by giving 



the farewell words of Bayard Taylor. He ex- 
presses the same idea that we gave to the public 
in a brief newspaper notice (" Mobile Register," 
June, 1867) immediately after our visit, and 
before his sketch had come under our notice, 
and almost in the same language. His corrobo- 
ration, together with that of Professor Silliman, 
gives additional weight to the remarks we made 
at that time regarding the character and magni- 
tude of the curiosity. Mr. Taylor says : 

" Before taking a final leave of the Mammoth 
Cave, let me assure those who have followed me 
through it, that no description can do justice to 
its sublimity, or present a fair picture of its 
manifold wonders. It is the greatest natural 
curiosity," adds this great traveler, "that I have 
ever visited, — Niagara not excepted; and he 
whose expectations are not satisfied by its mar- 
velous avenues, domes, and sparry grottoes, must 
either be a fool or a demi-god." 

Whoever has seen a cascade, however diminu- 
tive in volume, can readily imagine a larger one, 
and by a greater effort of imagination, may con- 
ceive of the magnitude of Niagara ; but he who 
has not entered the Mammoth Cave can form 
but faint conception of its character, or of the 
varied and lasting impressions produced upon 


the soul of him who has been wafted over its 
beautiful rivers, and whose spell-bound steps 
have traversed its dark labyrinths, its vineyards, 
and its ever-blooming floral bowers. Such scenes 
go with us in after-days, and parting is truly a 
" vain adieu." 

" Adieu to thee again ! a vain adieu ! 
There can be no farewell to scenes like thine, — 
The mind is color'd by thy every hue." 

In terminating this narrative of the Mammoth 
Cave, which has thus long, pleasantly and agree- 
ably occupied our own thoughts, — and profitably, 
we trust, the thoughts of our readers, — in part- 
ing from those who now "have traced the Pil- 
grim to the scene which is his last," in this labor 
of love, we cannot, upon laying down our pen, 
give more fitting expression to our feelings than 
in the oft-repeated, and oft-to-be-repeated words 
of the peerless Byron, — 

" Farewell ! a word that must be, and hath been — 
A sound which makes us linger; — yet — farewell !" 



Diamond Cave is an object of interest, and from its 
proximity to Mammoth Cave is worthy of mention in this 
connection, and should be visited by all curiosity-seekers 
who may be attracted to the neighborhood by the great 
cavern, the account of which we have just completed. 

This Cave is situated in Barren County (Ky.), one mile 
and a half from Glasgow Junction ("Bell's Tavern"), on 
the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, and five miles and 
a half from Mammoth Cave, being immediately on the 
road leading from the latter place to Glasgow Junction. 

The first exploration of Diamond Cave, we are informed 
by its present proprietor, Mr. John R. Proctor,* was made 
in July, 1?59, by Dr. J. T. Andrews, of Montgomery, Ala.; 
Prof. T. A. Richardson, M.D., of New Orleans; Theodore 
H. Lowe, Esq., of Louisville ; Mr. John Bell, proprietor 
of the well-known " Bell's Tavern;" George Bliss, Esq., 

* Since the above has been written, we are informed by Mr. P. that he 
has disposed of Diamond Cave to his father, Mr. Geo. M. Proctor. 

19 (217) 


of New York; and Prof. C. W. Wright, of Louisville 
(author of the Guide Book of Mammoth Ciive). 

Mr. Proctor informs us that near this Cave there is 
another, rivaling it in beauty, which he explored in 1866; 
and, from the fact that many of the avenues are closed 
with masses of stalactites, he feels confident that a com- 
munication can be effected between the two. The stalac- 
tite and stalagmite formations in Diamond Cave are more 
numerous and far more beautiful than any found in Mam- 
moth Cave. An English traveler remarked that, after 
many years' travel through Europe and America in search 
of geological and other objects of interest, he had not met 
with such a gem as Diamond Cave. 

The following is a brief outline of the principal objects 
of interest to be found in this Cave : 

In the Rotunda, which is seventy feet in diameter and 
thirty feet high, are to be seen Cleopatra's Needle, a sta- 
lagmite, five feet high and six inches in diameter, incrusted 
with the oxide of iron ; Serpent's Head, directly over the 
Needle, five feet in length, depending from the ceiling, and 
bearing a striking resemblance to the head of a large 
snake, with its mouth open; Closed Lily is suspended 
from the ceiling, and closely resembles the flower after 
which it is named : it is eight feet long and two feet in 
diameter ; Elfin's Grotto is a lovely alcove, fifteen feet 
above the floor of the Rotunda, the entrance of which is 
ornamented with beautiful stalagmites and stalactites : the 
crystallizations within assume every imaginable shape. 


among which can be seen a perfect resemblance to a cas- 
cade ; Mammoth Stalagmite is eighteen feet high and sev- 
enty feet in circumference at its base, being by far the 
largest stalagmite known in the world. 

It is stated that here, as in other caves, human bones 
were found in abundance at the base of the Armadillo, or 
Fallen Tree. They are said to have been discovered by 
Dr. Andrews, and that many were incrusted with the 
carbonate of lime. 

After leaving the Rotunda we enter Lowe's Avenue, 
which varies from six to forty feet in height and from ten 
to forty in width. In this avenue are to be seen Stella 
Grotto, Vermiculated Ceiling, and many other objects of 
interest and beauty. After leaving the avenue we come 
to Andrews' Cascade, which is, without doubt, the most 
singularly beautiful formation of the kind ever discovered, 
exhibiting, when viewed from its base, a perfect resem- 
blance to a water-fall, twenty-eight feet in height and 
eighteen feet wide. 

In Wright's Avenue, which extends from the Cascade to 
Diamond Grotto, are many tubular stalactites, which emit 
musical sounds when struck. Beyond Cascade Hall is 
seen the Magnolia Flower, a colossal flower six feet long 
and four feet in diameter, suspended twenty feet above the 
floor. It is composed of stalactitic plates of calcareous 
spar, and presents a perfect resemblance in form to the 
grande Jieur of the Southern States. There are other 
formations near this of like character ; and near the Co- 


lumbian Column there is a perfect representation of an 
immense Chandelier. From here a spar pavement extends, 
with slight interruptions, to the end of the Cav^e. It is 
composed of crystals of calcareous spar, which sparkle 
with great brilliancy as the lamps are moved to and fro 
above them. Next comes +he Oriental Crystal Fans. 
From here to Fink's Acute Angle the avenue is really 
grand, having the appearance of white chalk cliffs. 

Talia's Grotto is entered on the left of this avenue 
opposite the Atlantic Steamer. This is regarded as the 
most beautiful grotto in the world. The stalactites here 
are of the purest white, and rival in beautiful symmetry 
the finest Grecian carving. The Curtain Stalactite hangs 
upon the walls, which, from their peculiar tint, are called 
Blush Walls. It extends from the ceiling to within a few 
feet of the floor, and is so translucent that, by holding a 
light on the opposite side, the examiner can see through 
it. When struck it emits musical sounds. 

The Pope is a stalagmite about ten feet in height and 
five feet in diameter at its base. It is composed of light 
stalagmitic marble, the surface of which reflects with 
great distinctness. 

The Curtain Galleries and General Scott's Marquee 
cannot be excelled in beauty. Immediately to the left 
of the latter there is a miniature representation of Ni- 
agara Falls in winter. 

Columbian Column is thirty feet high and ten feet in 
diameter at its base. It is most beautifully ornamented 

APPENDIX. * 221 

with fluted columns, ogees, cornices, and mouldings ; and 
the entire surface displays innumerable crystals which 
sparkle on the approach of light like countless diamonds. 
We scarcely have any hesitation in saying that this par- 
ticular point exhibits the most wonderfully beautiful 
formations of any to be found elsewhere; and this view, 
of itself, will more than repay the visitor for the time 
occupied in exploring Diamond Cave. 

To the left of the Column is a collection of water called 
the Fountain of Orpheus. Bunker Hill Monument is a 
stalactite six feet high and six inches in diameter. Coral 
Pillar is a stalagmite four feet high and four inches in 
diameter, the surface of which is studded with little 
prominences resembling madrepore coral. A number 
of columns, similarly incrusted, are to be seen under 
the base of Columbian Column. 

Eviscerated Body is to the left of the steps leading to 
Lover's Bower. When light is transmitted through it, 
it is a perfect representation of the body of a man from 
which the lungs have been removed. 

Ameda Grotto has within it a pool of water lined with 
crystals, and encircled with stalagmitic formations. The 
stalactites in this grotto are of delicate form and of great 

Lot's Wife is a stalagmite four feet high, representing 
a figure draped in white. There is also to be found here 
an excellent representation of a Church Organ. 



Diamond Grotto is twentj-five feet in diameter and 
eight feet in height. The floor is covered with crystalline 
plates of calcareous spar, which sparkle with a brilliancy 
almost rivaling the gem for which the Cave is named. 
The ceiling is vermiculated, like the ceiling in Lowe's 

Among other places of interest in this beautiful Cave 
may be mentioned Bell's Spring, The Grand Retreat, 
Nettie's Palace, Mason Grotto, etc., which cannot here be 
more fully described. 

All who visit Mammoth Cave should, before leaving 
the neighborhood, see the beauties of Diamond Cave. 


Proctor's Cave, the property of Mr. L. J. Proctor, 
is quite as remarkable for its beauty as Diamond Cave ; 
and as our object is to give information to those desiring 
it, not only in relation to Mammoth Cave, but regarding 
the important curiosities in the immediate vicinity, our 
work would be incomplete without a special notice of 
Proctor's Cave. 

This Cave is situated three miles from Mammoth Cave, 
and four miles from Glasgow Station, on the Louisville 
& Nashville Railroad. The picturesque scenery surround- 


ing the entrance of this Cave ; the wonderful succession of 
domes, — many of which are viewed from the base ; the 
endless variety of stalactite and stalagmite formations, all 
contribute toward rendering a visit peculiarly attractive 
and interesting. Some even go so far as to say that there 
is not another Cave on this continent in which there is 
such a magnificent display of the chemical and mechan- 
ical action of water. The gypsum formations, such as 
rosettes, fibers, etc., are not less attractive. Dr. Wright 
tells us that the largest dome to be found in any Cave is 
to be found in Proctor's Cave. "It is at least three 
times as wide and long as Mammoth Dome in Mammoth 
Cave, and not less than one hundred and forty feet in 
height. The Curtain Dome is not less wonderful. Vast 
sheets of stalactite, yards in length and less than an inch 
in thickness, are arranged in the form of curtains, scrolls, 
etc. in endless variety." 

Mammoth Cave is deficient only in stalactite forma- 
tions. A visit to Proctor's and Diamond Caves renders 
cave-knowledge and experience complete. 

About three miles of this cave is now open to the 
public, through the greater part of which there is a sub- 
stantial plank walk. 

In a recent letter from Mr. Proctor to the author, he 
remarks, in speaking of this Cave, "I am constantly 
making new discoveries in this Cave; among others a 
large river, as yet inaccessible to visitors, and many 


beautiful domes and grottoes ; and the probabilities are 
that it will prove to be a very large, as welU as a beauti- 
ful Cave." 

Glasgow Station is the site of what was for many years 
renowned as "Bell's Tavern," the stopping-place hereto- 
fore for all Cave visitors ; and was noted as being kept in 
a style superior to any country hotel in America. This 
building was burned in 1860 ; and hence Cave City took 
the start. The property is now owned by Mr. Proctor, 
of Proctor's Cave, who is also the proprietor of the Mam- 
moth Cave Hotel. He has a comfortable-sized hotel now at 
Glasgow Junction, equal in capacity to the hotel at Cave 
City ; and he informs us that he has laid the foundations 
of a stone hotel, and has the basement and 
second stories already up. The size is one hundred and 
twenty by sixty feet ; it is to have sixty rooms, and will 
be completed during the present year (1870). Mr. Proc- 
tor promises to sustain the ancient reputation of "Bell's 

For the still further accommodation of Cave visitors, 
Mr. Proctor informs us that a cha-i-ter for a railroad has 
been granted from Glasgow Junction to Brownsville, the 
county-seat, and thence to intersect with the Elizabeth- 
town & Paducah Railroad, which will pass directly by 
Diamond Cave, and Proctor's Cave, and within two and 
a half miles of Mammoth Cave. This road is expected 
to be completed about the middle of 1871. At present 


stage-coaches run from Glasgow Station to Mammoth 
Cave, stopping at Diamond and Proctor's Caves, at a 
charge of one dollar per passenger. 

Thus it will appear that, by this arrangement, visitors 
have offered to them the very desirable opportunity of 
seeing these three remarkable Caves with but little addi- 
tional cost of time or money over that usually required 
in visiting the Mammoth Cave. 


Mammoth Cave. 


DuRiNG THE Summer Season the 



TO :vc j^ nvn ny: o T h: o^^ve 



MEW romm^ ^mm^MME^prnMs 



Excursionists selecting this route pass through the finest farming 
land of Eastern Pennsylvania, through the beautiful valley of the 
Juniata Eiver, and cross the Alleghany Mountains at a height of 
2200 feet above the level of the sea. No other route affords the 
tourist the same variety of river and mountain scenery. 


General Passenger and Ticket Agent 


General Superintendent. 

3 1205 00476 6935 


Santa Barbara