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JiY i'HK REVEEEND HORACE MARTIN
^TlilNfiErv & TOWN.^END, No. 222 BROADWAY
[^iWo [K]@[K^^©[i o^z^iE^iroo^.
ILLUSTRATED IN THE FIHST STYLE OF ART, BY S. WALLEN, JNO. ANDREW)
J. W. ORR, AND N. ORR.
STRINGER & TOWNSEND, No. 222 BROADWAY.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 185J, by
F RANK LESLIE,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, in
and for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
KING & BAIRD, PRINTERS, No. 9 SANSOM STREET.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
The Cave Hotel.
Entrance to the Cave.^
View of Entrance to the Cave from the Inside.
Entrance to the Gothic Galleries.
The Giant's Coffin. '
Hopper's and Water Pipes.
The Lover's Leap.
In America, Nature seems to have purposely ope-
rated on a gigantic scale. Her Lakes, her Rivers,
and her Mountains, may be instanced as an attestation
of what we say. Greatness and sublimity characterize
them all. Poets have sung their praises, tourists have
described them in all the eloquence of prose, and pain-
ters have labored to illustrate them upon the canvas.
They have been famed everywhere. But at the same
time, an object of Nature, as sublime as beautiful,
and as great as the Andes or the Mississippi, has been
comparatively neglected, — we allude to the Mammoth
Cave of Kentucky. Little has hitherto been said of
it by authors, less done towards familiarizing it to the
Million, by the painter. It is with the view of filling
up this blank, though it may be imperfectly, that the
present work has been undertaken.
We are anxious that Americans, as well as foreigners
visiting the Republic, should view the Mammoth Cave ;
and we are aware of no better plan of insuring this,
8 " ADDRESS.
than by describing the several features of attraction,
as well as incidental comforts^ which a trip there is
sure to include. With the facilities in the way of
travel, which exist in this country, no excuse of dis-
tance can be offered. A thousand or more miles can
be covered, with no more harass or fatigue than that
consequent upon quitting one train for another, or the
railroad car for the steamboat. And what scenery
will the eye of the traveller command in his transit ?
and what spectacles of splendor await him at his jour-
ney's end, where the Mammoth Cave itself is situated ?
There we will leave our friends ; but perhaps not
entirely so, as we shall be with them in the represen-
tative form of this, their Guide and Companion. That
the association may not be deemed an unworthy one,
we most sincerely hope ; while the faithfulness of our
delineations, (so far as the Cave is concerned,) and ot
our testimony to the elegant care and "home comfort"
to be found at the neighboring hotel, cannot, we feel,
be impugned by any one.
MADE. JENNY LIND'S
VISIT TO THE MAMMOTH CAVE.
FAVORED EY JUUUS BENEDICT, ESQ.
Early in the morning, after the close of our last concert
in Nashville, we started, with a somewhat smaller party
than had hitherto accompanied us, on a trip to the Mammoth
Cave. It consisted of Mademoiselle Lind and Mademoiselle
Ahmansen, Belletti, M. Hjortzberg, Mr. Burke, Mr. Seyton,
and myself. Our road was rough, and in many instances
almost impassable for a carriage. The rain had however,
laid the dust, and although there was little of the picturesque
to be met with in the country that was stretched on either
side of us, the fresh brilliancy of the young year sheeted
trees and meadows aUke in its budding green. After par-
taking of luncheon at Teyress' Springs, and pausing to
dine afterwards at the Bowling Green, we arrived in the
course of the evening, and found ourselves in comfortable
lodgings, at Bell's Hotel. On the following morning we
quitted this tarrying- place at nine o'clock, and had the
satisfaction of travelling over eight miles of the very worst
road we had yet traversed in the United States — charmingly
broken up with snatches of woodland and forest scenery —
10 JENNY LIND's visit
here bending past the edge of a jagged and abrupt glen,
and then breaking into a sweep of meadow or budding
foliage. At length we arrived at the hotel, a dismal and
queer-looking building, the roof of which was seamed with
the chance sky-lights made by age and decay, and the
service of which was performed by domestics, who were
scrupulously bent on following their own fancies in the
management of our table, for here it w^as that we breakfasted.
In truth, the meal itself was excellent, and the room in which
it ^vas held, considering the time of the year, was in good
order — Jenny Lind's presence, we presume, having, as is
usual in hotels, railways, and steamboats, made an extra
season. Fortunately, we here met with Mr. Crcghan, the
proprietor of the estate in which the Cave is situated, a most
gentlemanly and delightful person, who did us the honors
of his subterranean dominions in the most agreeable manner.
It w^as about twelve o'clock that we started in his company
for the Cave, and to avoid the pertinacious curiosity of the
guests, who had been collected here by the report of Made-
moiselle Lind's visit, he conducted us by a less frequented
pathway than the one usually taken to its mouth. Lamps
were now procured, and as it happened, we were fortunate
enough to be placed in the hands of the very Prince of
Guides. This was Stephen, who must be a well known
character to those who visit this palace of the Gnomes.
Half Indian and half negro, ("a singularly rare mixture of
blood,) he has been living in or about this cavern for the last
fifteen years, until he himself has begun to fancy it would
be impossible to quit it. Although of course, uneducated,
he is essentially a clever man, and has contrived to pick up
a vast amount of information from associating with every
description of persons. Now he sports a bit of science,
derived from some of the more learned visitors he has con-
TO THE MAMMOTH CAVE. 11
ducted through the cavern, or a bit of artistic knowledofe
which has been dropped behind him by some wandering
painter, or haply a touch of the hfe of the world beyond,
which has filtered through his mind from a thousand sources.
In addition to this, when it is remembered that he is as much
at home in the lengthy avenues, the gorgeous churches, and
palatial halls, the domes and the pits of this weird region,
as if he had been amon<yst them, it must be admitted that it
would be somewhat difficult to find a guide better calculated
to do its honors. To give anything approaching a thorough
description of the cavern, is far from our purpose. Indeed,
we shall be well satisfied if we can but impress the reader
with the conception that masters our own sense, as we take
the pen in our hand with the vain hope (for we cannot but
feel that it is so,) of doing something like justice to the effect
it produced upon our minds. In fact, it is and would be
well nigh impossible to give with pen and ink any idea of
the wondrous effect and extraordinary combinations of
nature's architecture, with her wondrous and delicate tracery
which strike the visitor at every step he takes in these in-
tricate and winding labyrinths. Now you enter what
would appear to be the sacred precincts of a Gothic Chapel.
What is visible of the roof as the light of the flashing torches
is caught upon it is seamed with arches. Elaborate pillars
wreathed with tracery cluster along its sides. The very
pulpit is chased with elaborate and tangled ornaments, and
appears ready for the preacher. After this, you bend your
way through a rough and tedious path, that winds through
fragments of rock, and flillen masses of rough and jagged
stone. This brinsfs vou to a wooden brido'e, over which
you pass, and reaching apparently the side of the cave, gaze
through a broken space into the thick and heavy darkness
beyond it. Here the glaring lustre of a Bengal light, touched
12 . JENNY LIND's visit
by the torch of Stephen, falls into and for some moments
partially illumines the profound depths of a place which is
called the ' Bottomless Pit ;' and, indeed, nothing could well
give a more vivid idea of the earthly entrance to a spiritual
Hades than dees this place. The spot of intense and glowing
light — the unfathomable space below — the unnatural features
of the place, all brought out in strong relief by the unusual
radiance ; and the awful silence that reigns around, unbroken,
save by the whispers and muttered observations of the party
which stands almost lost in the gloom of the silent cavern,
give it a character of extreme and unutterable solemnity.
What, however, must we say of the ' Star Chamber ?' After
having wandered for a mile or more along what we presumed
was the principal avenue, (the height of this varies, as we
should suppose, from thirty to eighty feet,) we passed the
^Giant's Coffin,' a mass of stone presupposed by the dealer
in fabulous nomenclature to be the tomb of some antediluvian
hero. Here the Cave widened, and we found ourselves
standing as we seemed to emerge from it, under a broad and
sable sky, spotted with unknown stars. Almost for the first
moment you m.ight dream that you had entered upon another
world. The illusion is complete. Above you lies the vault
of the dark and novel heaven, seamed with apparently
countless planets, and around you stretches the dark and
weird-looking horizon, apparently dying away into the gloom
of that strange firmament. Here also our guide shone in
all his glory. First he would withdraw within the entrance,
carrying the torches with him. Then the stars would dis-
appear, one by one, until we were left in silence and dark-
ness. Anon a crimson liQ:ht would break out amonof the
rocks, whose intense brilliancy would give us some idea of
the grandeur and splendid proportions of the ^ Star Chamber,'
sparkling in its brilhant glory on the glistening spots of the
TO THE MAMMOTH CAVE. 13
sable coping. Then he would descend and move further
off, to throw the h'ght of the torches on others of the incrus-
tations and ghstening stalactites of the Hall. Suddenly
the notes of a violin were heard breaking on the stillness,
and the Prayer from the Der Freyshutz poured its melody
on the Chamber. For a moment we were so struck by the
unexpected sounds, that we barely looked at each other.
Soon we, however, began to notice that Burke was absent,
and remembered that he had brought his instrument with
him on this trip. The mystery — a rare and delicate one,
too, was unravelled. After leaving this spot, we passed
through the 'Fat Man's Misery,' and the 'Happy Relief,'
which last, we confess, we should have presupposed to have
been achieved only by a course of sudorifics, and at last
reached the borders of Lethe. Unluckily there was no
Charon in waiting to bear us across the ominously named
stream. This may possibly appear an anomaly, yet when
it is known that the grandest part of the Cave lies beyond
Lethe and Styx, our mortification at finding the first river
impassable, and the Tartarus beyond it, out of our reach,
may very readily be conceived. The waters had un-
fortunately risen so high during the last few weeks, that the
impossibility of passing the streams of this subterranean
Tophet was self-evident. We were therefore compelled
unwillingly to satisfy ourselves with the glowing reports of
Stephen and Mr. Croghan, of the <^ Crystal Chambers,' the
^ Echo Halls,' stalactitic Domes, fishes without eyes, and rats
that were half rabbits, with sundry other breathing and visual
oddities that were to be found in these infernal regions. We
were, however, richly repaid for our visit by that which we
had already seen, and the crowning point was our pause
on our return beneath Goran Dome. Fancy an immense
wall in the bowels of the earth, lit up as if by magic, (i. e.
14 JENNY LIND's visit TO THE INIAMMOTH CAVE.
Bengal lights,) with its carved cornices and sculptured or
arabesqued architraves, coming crisply and exquisitely off
in the momentary and brilliant lustre — the wall standing
some 400 or 500 feet in height, and the silence of the scene
being only broken by the slow dripping of the water w^hich
trickles through the interstices of the rock. Possibly the
only disappointment which was induced in my mind, arose
from the width and breadth of the chamber not corresponding
with the height, which had it done, the impression of
grandeur" given by this singular scene would have been
quadrupled. At length, after having roamed about without
a moment's rest for more than four hours, in which time
we had not explored the twentieth part that is already
known of this splendid palace, reared, as it might almost
seem, for another race of beings, Ave passed through the
"'Bats' Chamber,' where thousands of these creatures remain,
as though they were spell-bound, hanging to the walls in
their winter sleep — and, emerged again into the world above
us, which seemed to fasten upon our senses with an almost
crushing weight, as we found its light dimming and blinding
the e3''es which instinctively sought the radiance of the sunny
heaven. We returned to the hotel — dined there, and bidding
a kindly farewell to Mr. Croghan, were soon on our way to
the place at which we were that night to sleep — carrying
wdth us a recollection which will not readily be effaced
either from the mind of Mademoiselle Lind or of myself.
Among the many grand and beautiful objects of Nature
which have been worthily described, either by the pen or
the pencil, or by both, the Mammoth Cave in Kentucky
cannot be numbered, the as yet published details or pictures
of it failing in imparting anything like an accurate idea of
its many wonders. Having recently visited the Cave, and
having all our feehngs of admiration warm within us, it
seems that the few tourists who have hitherto given to the
world their ideas of this splendid natural object, have, by
constitution, lacked that sense of the beautiful which is the
readiest interpreter of scenes like those which it is our
purpose to describe : hence, we have had nothing more than
a few dry details, where the true magnificence of the theme
is of a character to inspire the pen to something much
higher than common-place.
By many who, however, are gifted with the quality, the
lack of which in others we have just noticed, the Mam-
16 GUIDE TO THE
moth Cave has been designated the ^"^ Eighth Wonder of the
World/' Some, indeed, have gone so far as to claim for it
precedence before the ^"^ seven :" and it would be difficult
to decide whether it has not claims to such a proud pre-
eminence. So wide-spread is its fame, principally from
the verbal reports of those who have visited it, that thou-
sands of American citizens, as well as strangers from every
other part of the world, make a point of going to it. We
have had opportunities of witnessing its effect upon persons
of different temperaments. In the religious it has awakened
devotional feelings amounting almost to delirium ; in the
poetic or artistic impromptu bursts of eloquence and a
sharpened sense of the grand ; the singer, too, has felt the
exalting and purifying influences of the place, and has
hymned his or her praises to the power there so obviously
manifested. Few have shown insensibility ; and they, we
hold, to be objects of pity.
Persons in the eastern states, desirous of visiting the
Mammoth Cave, had best take the steam-boat from Cincin
nati to Louisville : the distance between the two places is
133 miles, and the fare only §2 50. The boats of this line
are first-class ones, and possess every recommendation ;
their arrangements are so complete, that were it not for the
noise of the engines, a person might fancy himself in a
fashionable hotel. The distance is performed in a very
short period of time. Arriving at Louisville, the tourist
should take the stage, which will convey him ninety miles
over a turnpike road, and stop at a truly comfortable inn,
kept by Mr. Bell for the last twenty-five years. The stage
is now left to pursue its way to Nashville. Parties coming
west would take the stage froin Nashville, and stop at
Bell's. There are, besides, steamers which ply between
Louisville, up the Green River, to within one mile of the
MAMMOTH CAVE. 17
Cave. In lliese, our preliminarj'- details, it may be as well
for us to state that a company is now forming, whose object
is to make a railway from Nashville to Louisville, which,
when completed, vv^ill pass within ten miles of the Cave.
Proper conveyances will be in readiness at that distance,
to take persons directly to the Cave itself. The stages now
running on the road take the mails, and may be relied on
for their punctuality, always arriving at Bell's about half-past
9 o'clock at night. Every accommodation for the night will
be afforded, and in the morning, when the visitors are
quite ready, they are sent over to the Cave, in either a
carriage or a coach, according to their numbers. The
distance from Bell's to the Cave is nine miles, and the road
runs through a very romantic country — now ascending lofty
mountains, then traversing thick woods, which the city
visitor will find strongly to contrast with the more familiar
scenes of his life. It is supposed that the Cave runs under
the ground traversed between its mouth and Bell's, as high,
rocks are frequently met with. Descending from the last
hill, we arrive at the entrance to the grounds, and in sight
of the hotel. This property is of vast extent, containing
more than 1700 acres of ground ; the proprietor has pur-
chased all the land, under which it has been ascertained
the Cave traversed its many winding ways. The grounds,
which the visitor now enters, are laid out with consummate
taste displaying ornamental trees and much shrubbery,
with forest trees of great antiquity. Having traversed
a winding avenue, the tourist at length arrives at the
Cave Hotel, conducted by Mr. Miller, who is a very
respectable, accommodating, and affable gentleman, and
ever ready to please his company to the utmost extent.
The hotel consists of a number of buildings of different
dates, having been increased from time to time, to meet
18 GUIDE TO THE
the continually increasing number of visitors. The es-
tablishment, in its present state, is capable of lodging 150
visitors, and during the season always has that number.
The terms are very moderate ; and with a travelling ex-
perience which extends over the whole United States, we
can safely say that we are acquainted with no place at
which a person who wishes to v^^ithdraw himself from busy
life, can find greater comfort, or can enjoy Nature in her
unadorned loveliness, more than here. There is no town
or village within twenty miles, and neither the one nor the
other contains more than a comparatively thin population.
Consequently, visitors are not annoyed by the influx of the
rabble on certain days of the week. In this beautiful and
retired spot, the stranger will meet with pohshed and re-
fined society, persons from all parts of the world meeting
there. At the hotel a register is kept. Some celebrated
names are inscribed on its pages — among them, those of
Jenny Lind, Jules Benedict, Belletti, etc. The former
gentleman has favored us with a sketch of his and com-
panion's visit to the Mammoth Cave, which we append to this
work. The hotel is two stories high, and two hundred
feet long, with brick buildings at each extremity, showing
their gable ends in front. The space between is occupied
by a long wooden building, with a piazza, and gallery over it.
At the end of the hotel runs a long row of log houses, one
story high, with colonades in front, the whole length, which
must be near two hundred feet. These colonades and
piazzas must be very convenient in wet weather, helping
to form as they do, a beautiful promenade, protected from
the rain or sun. The dining room of the hotel is a spacious
apartment, while the fare displayed upon its table of the finest
quality. Venison is always to be found here in abundance.
A large kitchen garden is kept in a high state of cultivation,
ENTRAI^^CE TO THE CAVE.
VIEW TAZSN Fl-tOM THE INSIDE
MAMMOTH CAVE. 19
to furnish vegetables and fruits for the table ; several
crardeners are retained in the establishment. Over the
dining room is an apartment of precisely the same dimen-
sions, fitted up for a ball room ; and an excellent band is
kept during the entire season, for the purpose of amusing
the visitors. In another part of the premises a ten-pin
alley is fitted up. Indeed, taking the whole arrangements
of the hotel, we cannot speak too highly of them. The
perfect comfort of the visitor is the proprietor's evident aim.
There are single as well as double bedrooms in different
parts of the building ; the log houses are intended for
families, as each little house is fitted up for one, which can
live as privately as possible, or mix with the general com-
pany — whichever seems the most agreeable. Many of the
parties lodged in the hotel are in the habit of exploring the
Cave more than once — frequently perhaps, before they can
acquire even a partial knowledge of it. In this case, the
rule is, that they pay their entrance or cave-fee once, and
so often as the guides go in with fresh visitors, the old
visitors have the privilege of accompanying them, without
being required to pay any second fee — so that a particular
party may visit the Cave a hundred times, and yet only
pay one fee. Persons form themselves into companies, each
dav, to hunt, or fish, as well as to visit the Cave.
And now for the Cave, w^U and aptly designated Mam-
moth; and as a natural object, perhaps unequalled by any
other in the world, certainly unsurpassed.
In order to explore only one of its avenues, which is nine
miles in extent, the visitor starts immediately after breakfast.
The entrance to the Cave is about two hundred yards from
the back of the hotel. Leaving it, the expectant tourists pass
down a beautiful ravine, having on each of its sides towering
trees, their foliage forming a beautiful arch overhead, so um-
GUIDE TO THE
braii^eous as to shut out all vision of the blue sky. About the
trees o-rape-vines are entwined, and flourish in luxuriance.
For a painter, the scene now presented would make a
splendid study. It is difficuh, in fact, to find words suffi-
ciently expressive to describe the beauty of this spot. De-
scending gradually to the bottom of the dell, and turning
sharply round to the right hand, the visitor approaches the
entrance of the Mammoth Cave.
He is now under its arch, having made a descent of some
thirty feet of rude stone steps. Before him is a small
stream of water. It falls from the front of the crowning
rock, its sound being wild and unequal. The ruins below
receive it, and it ultimately disappears in a deep pit. Let
the visitor now look backwards. How awful must be his
sensations ! All is utter gloom ; and well may he exclaim
ii This is chaos !"
The visitors are invariably accompanied by a guide, who
places in each of their hands a lamp, which he furnishes
with oil from a canteen swung round his back. The journey
under nround is then commenced.
HOPPERS AND WATER PIPES.
The first objects that now attract attention are the
wooden pipes w^hich conducted the water, in its descent, to
the hoppers, when the Cave was used for the manufacture
of saltpetre. In speaking of this part of the Cave, we are
reminded of an incident of which it was once the scene. —
MAMMOTH CAVE. 21
We refer to the discovery of a skeleton, so peculiar in its
proportions as to suggest the existence, at some remote
period, of that giant race of men, of whom there has been
so much said in works generally believed fabulous. This
skeleton was found some years since by the saltpetre
workers, and was buried by their employer in the spot
where it now lies. This was done to quiet the superstitious
fears of the men. Some antiquary had, however, taken
the precaution to possess himself of the head. Another
relic of the olden time was found in the Cave. It was a
bow, precisely similar to those worn by the Red Indians,
and no doubt, had belonged to one of that race when they
were the sole masters of the soil — many ages, indeed,
before the white men had come among them, to drive the
aborigines to the deep forests, and to alter the destiny of
this mighty continent by the agencies of civih'zation.
Let us return to the visitors. Having proceeded onward,
a door-way is reached. It is set in a rough stone wall,
stretched cross-ways, and so blocking up the entire cave.
We proceed through this passage, which is called '' the
Narrows" for a short distance, then making a gradual descent,
our friends find themselves in the great vestibule or ante-
chamber of the cave. How awful is now the surrounding
darkness ! No where can there be discovered the least
glimmering of light. The eye searches for it, but in vain.
Blackness reigns. It is under, above, around you. There
is one way, however, to dispel it. You are told the way,
but for a few minutes you are credulous. Presently you
make trial, and then how wonderful is the change ! More
than a hundred feet above your head is a gray ceiling,
moving away, so it seems, majestically and spectral. Then
your sight is cognizant of buttresses. They seem tottering,
and as though superinduced to the action by the immensity
22 GUIDE TO THE
of their upward weight. All continues silent, and the
sensation in the brain is that of a tingling agony. The
guide, who knows the power of antithesis, and is an adept
too, in dramatic effect, now hghts a few fires, by the aid of
which you ascertain that you are in a basilica of an oval
form, of some two hundred feet in length by one hundred
and fifty in width, wdth a flat and level roof between sixty
and seventy feet high. At right angles are two passages,
opening into this huge chamber. They are at its opposite
extremities, and in consequence of their preserving a
straight course for five or six hundred feet, with the same
flat roof just particularized, the impression is, that they are
included in one magnificent hall. The passage on the right
hand is designated the great Bat Room. That in the front,
is the beginning of the Grand Gallery, or the Cave itself.
The reader will be surprised when he is told that the entire
space is covered by a single rock, in which it is impossible
to discover a break or an interruption, if we except the
borders, where is a broad sweeping cornice, traced in hori-
zontal paved work. And what will also appear extraordi-
nary — not a single pillar contributes to the support.
Vast heaps of nitrous earth, and of the fragments of the
hoppers, which latter are of heavy planking, encumber
the floor. Before the Cave was appropriated to the manu-
facture of saltpetre, it was used as a burying ground ; and
it is said that the workman disinterred many a skeleton
belonging, it is presumed, to that gigantic race of which
the bones mentioned in a previous page were a specimen.
Those visitors who enter the great Bat Room, \vill have
some suspicion that they are passing into infinite space.
This impression will continue some time. The w^alls of
the cave are so dark as not to admit a sing-le reflection from
the torches carried on ordinary occasions. It is possible
MAMMOTH CAVE. 23
that a greater number would have power to dispel the
gloom, and to enable the explorers to form some idea of its
The Audubon Avenue [in which we must now fancy
the visitor to be) is more than a mile long, fifty or sixty feet
wide, and as many high. The appearance of the roof is
mystical or grand, exhibiting, as many other parts of the
Cave do, a kind of floating cloud. Of late j^^ears, a natural
well, twenty-five feet deep, containing the purest water,
has been discovered. Round it are innumerable stalagmite
columns. Springing from the floor, they extend to the
roof, and bear incrustations which, when lights are held or
suspended near them, reflect a thousand rare and beautiful
The Little Bat Room Cave may be designated a branch of
Audubon Avenue. It is on the left as the visitor advances,
and in distance, is not more than three hundred yards from
the Great Vestibule. In length it is little more than a
quarter of a mile. It is remarkable for its pit, which is
two hundred and eighty feet in depth ; and is also notice-
able as being the hibernal resort of bats. Tens of thousands
of those ominous looking birds are seen hanging from the
walls, seemingly dead or torpid during the winter, but
when spring comes, the place knows them no more.
The visitor will now pass for a second time through the
Vestibule, and enter the main Cave or Grand Gallery.
This is a mighty tunnel, and extends for many miles. Its
average dimensions throughout, are fifty feet in width by
as many in height. It is a truly magnificent avenue,
crowded with objects of interest, and the largest, we
believe, in the world.
About a quarter of a mile down the main Cave, the
visitors arrive at what are called the Kentucky Cliffs. The
24 GUIDE TO THE
name, it is said, is derived from their imagined resemblance
to the cliffs on the Kentucky River. Further on, at a
descent of some twenty feet, is the Church. This part of
the Cave is sometimes reached by a gallery from the cliffs.
The way we have indicated is, however, the one generally
adopted. The ceiling of the Church is sixty-three feet high,
and the Church itself, taking in the recess, is not less than
one hundred feet in diameter. It is furnished with a
natural pulpit, and as though to perfect its resemblance to
the place whose name it bears, there is a hollow behind the
pulpit, in which an organ might be very well placed, not
to say anything of a full choir. Thousands can be very
well accommodated in this Church, and, indeed, sermons
have been preached there, before very large congregations.
In its capacity for sound, it is as well fitted for a place of
public worship, as in its other characteristics. Even a
very shght effort on the part of a speaker would render him
thoroughly audible to those seated furthest from him.
Standing in this natural temple of God, older by far than
any cathedral the eye ever looked on, and as beautiful, the
imagination conjures up the scene it would present were it
again to be appropriated to service, and the proper ceremo-
nial be observed. The surphced priests, the listening
auditory, the organ's swell, the burst of voices, the form of
the Church itself, and the "dim, rehgious light" — all
that tends to the completion of an ideal, fascinating in the
highest degree, and not easily dispelled in a place like that
of which we speak.
Concerts as well as religious services have been held
here ; and we have no doubt but that the very inspiration
of the place has awakened melody until then unknown
Gluitting the Church (which the visitors will not be very
MAMMOTH CAVE. 25
anxious to do) a large embankment of lixiviated earth will
be seen. It was thrown out by the miners more than
thirty years ago. The former uses of the place are further
indicated by the print of wagon wheels and the tracks of
oxen, both as sharply defined as though they had been
made but a few weeks since. Proceeding a httle further,
the visitor arrives at what is called the Second Hoppers.
Here, too, are the signs and tokens of other days, and of
uses different to those which are identified with the place
at present. Here are the ruins of old nitre works, leaching
vats, pump frames, and two hnes of wooden pipes ; one
to lead fresh water from the dripping spring to the vats
filled with the nitrous earth, and the other to convey the
lye drawn from the large reservoir, back to the furnace at
the mouth of the Cave. It has been stated, on authority,
that the nitrous earth in the Mammoth Cave is, in itself,
sufficient to supply the whole world with saltpetre. Pre-
vious to rejoining our friends in their explorations, we may
perhaps be pardoned for giving the following particulars,
quoted from an official document : —
<'The dirt in this Cave gives from three to five pounds of
nitrate of lime to the bushle, requiring a large proportion of
fixed alkaU to produce the proper crystalhzation, and when
left in the Cave, becomes re-impregnated in three years.
When saltpetre bore a high price, immense quantities
were manufactured' at the Mammoth Cave ; but the return
of peace brought the saUpetre from the East Indies in
competition with that of America, and drove the latter
entirely from the market. An idea may be formed of the
extent of the manufacture of saltpetre at this Cave, from
the fact that the contract for the supply of the fixed alkali
alone for the Cave, for the year 1814, was twenty thousand
6 GUIDE TO THE
" The price of the article was so high, and the profits of
the manufacturer so great, as to set half the world gadding
after nitre caves — the gold mines of the day. Cave
hunting, in fact, became a kind of mania, beginning with
speculators, and ending with hair-brained young men, who
dared for the love of adventure the risk which others run
for profit. < Every hole,' remarked an old miner, ' the size
of a man's body, has been penetrated for miles round the
Mammoth Cave, but although we found jietre earth, we
never could find a cave worth having.' "
The visitors are now looking from the nitre works
towards the left, and perceive, thirty feet above, a large cave.
In connexion with it is a narrow gallery sweeping across
the main Cave, and losing itself in another cave, which is
to the right ; the latter is called the Gothic Avenue. And
there is every evidence to show that it was at one time
connected with the cave opposite, and on the same level,
forming, as it were, a bridge over the main Avenue, but
subsequently broken down by some natural convulsion.
The Gothic galleries are extremely beautiful.
The Cave on the left is filled with sand, and has been
penetrated a short distance only. Most likely, however,
from its ample size at the entrance, it would, were all
obstructions taken away, be found to have an extent of
The visitor on leaving the main Cave, and ascending a
flight of steps of about thirty feet, will find himself in the
Gothic Avenue. This portion of the Cave is so named
from its strong resemblance to a Gothic building. Its
dimensions are, in width forty feet, height, fifteen feet,
length two miles. Nothing can be more smooth than the
appearance of the ceihng ; in fact, it seems as though the
arlizan had given it the last touch, and it was only waiting
J^: N T K A N C E TO 'IKE GOTHIC (3 A T E ,
MAMMOTH CAVE. 27
the process of drying. An excellent road has been made
in this Cave ; and the atmosphere is temperate.
At an elevation of a few feet above the floor, and fifty-
feet from the head of the stairs, leading up from the main
avenue, a couple of mummies were to be seen in the early
part of the present century. At the time we speak of they
were in excellent preservation. One was of a female, and
various articles of the wardrobe were by the side of it. Of
the ultimate fate of these mummies nothing can be said with
any approach towards certainty. One, we have been told,
was destroyed in the burning of the Cincinnati Museum ;
while the wardrobe of the female, we have also been given
to understand, was given to a Mr. Ward, of Massachusetts,
and afterwards presented by him to the British Museum.
A third mummy was found by the miners, in Audubon ^
Avenue, in the year 1814. It was their wish to conceal it ;
accordingly, they placed large stones over it, and fixed such
marks about it as to direct them to it at some future day.
But all the pains they took were in vain. In 1840 the
present keeper of the hotel, Mr. Miller, having ascertained '
the facts as we have related them, set out in search of the
place described to him as the grave of the mummy. He
soon found it out by the aid of the lights he had brought
with him ; the stones, however, which had been placed
above it, had so injured it, as to leave it of little value to
the antiquary or any other person. It is no improbable
hypothesis, we think, that were judicious efforts made,
several mummies would be yet found, and also other objects
which would tend, in no slight degree, to throw light on the
early history, not of the Cave alone, but of the great con-
tinent itself, of which it forms so conspicuous an object of
The allusion to mummies very naturally reminds us of
28 . GUIDE TO THE
the discovery of one in this Cave, someyears since, and a
few particulars of which may not be uninteresting to the
A scientific gentleman, one of the earhest visitors of the
Cave, saw the above named rehc in the year 1813. While
digging saltpetre earth in the short cave, a rock somewhat
fiat was met with. It was a little below the surface of the
earth. The stone, which was about four feet wide by as
many long, was raised, and discovered a square excavation
about three feet in width — the same in length and depth.
On examination, it proved to be the sepulchre of a human
being — a female, with her wardrobe and ornaments placed
near her. The body, which was found in a sitting position,
was in a perfect state of preservation. The arms were
folded up, and the hands laid across the bosom ; while
around the two wrists was wound a small cord, apparently
for the purpose of keeping them in the position originally
determined. Round and near to the body, were wrapped
two deer-skins, which, on examination, seemed to have
undergone a mode of dressing very different to any known
at that day, and which would have been equally inexplicable
now. The hair had been cut off very near the surface of
the skins, which were ornamented with imprints of vases,
leaves, etc., sketched with a substance quite white. On
the outside of these skins was a large square sheet. It was
neither wove nor knit, the fabric being of the inner bark of
a tree, which, it was supposed, from certain appearances,
was that of the linn tree, resembling as it did, in texture,
the well known South-sea cloth, or matting. The head and
body of the mummy were entirely enveloped in this sheet.
The hair had been cut offver}'' short, being only the eighth
of an inch from the scalp ; on the neck, however, it had been
allowed to grow one inch. In color it was dark red. The
MAMMOTH CAVE. 29
teeth of this mummy were perfectly white and sound. No
blemish whatever was discoverable upon the body, with the
exception of a wound between two ribs near the back bone ;
one of the eyes had also been injured. The nails on the
toes and hands were long and quite perfect. The features
of the face were remarkably regular ; and it appeared from
measurement of the limbs, that the body, in life, must have
been something over five feet ten inches in height. At the
time of discovery, it weighed only fourteen pounds. It was
perfectly dry, but on exposure to the atmosphere, it gained
four pounds in weight, by the absorbing of the dampness.
At the side of the body were found a pair of moccasins,
a knapsack, and what in the absence of a more expressive
term we must call a reticule. Wove or knit bark was the
material of which the mocassins were made ; and round the
top there was a border, to add strength, or, perhaps, to serve
as an ornament. The size of the feet, as denoted by these,
must have been very small. In form, the moccasins of this
subterranean mummy were precisely the same as that of
the articles at present worn by the northern Indians. The
knapsack Avas also of wove or knit bark, having a deep and
strong border around the top, and in size was the same as
the knapsacks worn by soldiers. In workmanship it was
exceedingly neat, and the circumstance of its being so, with
the preparation of the fabric itself, were sufficiently indica-
tive of a high degree of skill, as characteristic of a period
and a race of which we, the modern generation, have gen-
erally so derogatory an opinion. The reticule, as well as
what has been already enumerated, was made of wove bark,
and in shape, was like a horseman's valise, opening its
entire length on the lop. It was furnished with two rows
of hoops, each row on its respective side near the opening.
Two cords were fastened to one end of the reticule at the
30 - GUIDE TO THE
top, which passed through the loop on one side and then on
to the other, the whole length. B}'' these means it was
laced up and secured. Deep borders, of a fanciful and pretty-
pattern, run round and strengthened the top of the reticule.
The articles proper to it and the knapsack were : — a head
cap, made of wove or knit bark, borderless, and in shape,
similar to a very plain night cap ; seven head dresses, made
of the quills of very large birds, and united in the same
manner as feather fans are made, with this exception, — that
the pipes of the quills were not drawn to a point, but spread
out in a straight line with the top. This was done by per-
forating the pipe of the quill in two places, then running
two cords through the holes, and finally, winding round
both quills and cords, fine thread, so as to fasten each quill
in the place designed for its reception. Extending some
distance beyond the quills on each side, these cords could
be tied on placing the feathers on the head. Among the
other articles to be enumerated were some beads — several
hundred strings. These consisted of a very hard brown
seed, smaller than hemp seed. In each of them a small
hole had been made, and through it a three-corded thread,
somewhat like sieve twine, was drawn. Then there were
red hoofs of fawns, on a string, by which they had the
appearance of a necklace ; the claw of an eagle, having a
hole through it, by which a cord could be attached, so as to
enable a person to wear the claw ; the jaw of a bear, ap-
parently intended to be worn, like the former ; two rattle-
snake skins, one having fourteen rattles upon it ; some
vegetable colors done up in leaves ; a small bunch of deer
sinews ; several bunches of thread and twine ; seven needles,
some of horn, some of bone, and remarkably smooth ; a hard
piece made of deer skin ; two whistles made of cane, and
each about eight inches in length.
MAMMOTH CAVE. 31
At the period of the mummy's discovery, various con-
jectures were formed relative to it. Its preservation in the
Cave was no theme for wonder, as the nature of its atmo-
sphere is such as to preserve animal flesh for an indefinite
period of time. That many centuries had rolled away since
that discolored remnant of mortality moved about the earth,
and had thought, feelings, and sensations Hke ourselves,
there could not be a doubt, but the age, the condition, or
the circumstances attendant upon death remained a mystery.
There were no tokens, or, if there were, not sufficiently
suggestive of explanations, to mark the precise date of the
world's existence, to which that mummy, as a living thing,
could be referred. All was vague and shadowy ; and those
antiquarians who were interested in the discovery, and
would have travelled a thousand miles, to come to any defi-
nite conclusion, were obliged to content themselves with
this : — that the body was that of a human being who might
have existed but a few ages after the Flood or the birth of
the Saviour — a wide interval indeed, but taken at the latest,
amply sufficient to estabhsh the distinction of fmcze?2/ times.
After this somewhat long, though necessary digression,
let us return to our friends, the visitors. They are now in
the Gothic Avenue, once called the Haunted Chamber, why
they will be informed by the guide as they pass along. As
the particulars share so equally the elements of the grave
and the gay, we may be excused giving them in a hasty
way : — A miner, new to the Cave, and therefore not very
well versed in the methods of averting or escaping from
danger, was sent one day, in company of an older workman,
to the Salts Room, for the purpose of digging a few sacks
of the required article. Seeingthatlhe path was unobstructed,
and that the Haunted Chambers were in a continuous line,
the young man, who, by the way, was a little vain, and
32 GUIDE TO THE
wished to show off his bravery, declined further direction,
and went ofT quite alone. Several hours passed, and as he
had not made his appearance since the morning, his fellow-
workmen became somewhat alarmed. The circumstance
was described, and the young man's vain glory remembered.
Some of the miners concluded that the fellow, like many
other gentlemen with an exaggerated opinion of their own
powers, had his career suddenly stopped ; others, however,
hoped that he had been spared, to repent of his follies, and
to become a wiser man. A consultation was held, and it
was, at length, determined to go in search of the missing
man. Some six were formed into a company. They were
negroes, and previous to starting on their errand of mercy
were stripped half naked. It may, therefore, be imagined
how extraordinary was their appearance. In the meantime,
the young miner, after reaching the Salt Room, filling his
sack, and succeeding in getting halfway back to the place
whence he started, thought it possible he might be going
wrono-. His valor vanished before the bare idea. It was
no lonofer his courao^e and his clearness that he thought of,
but his sins. They rose up before him, and, it may be, that
the gloom of the place where he was, and his fear (which
is always a marvelous magnifier), made the errors of his
youth seem greater and graver than they really were. In
his agitation he run here and there, prayed heartily, and
cried lustily. Ultimately, he dropped his lamp, which
was immediately extinguished, and fell over a rock. He
prayed for help when, in his terror, he thought it could
alone be rendered ; but hours passed away, and all help,
even the sliirhtest, seemed as far from him as ever. Madness
seized him. He thought that he had quitted earth — was dis-
embodied — in fact, that he was in the place of torments said to
be reserved for sinners. He gazed around him. Merciful
MAMMOTH CAVE. 83
powers ! what are those moving figures. He had never
seen anything like them. They were spirits, sent to drag
him to his punishment. He hears their yells. Were ever
mortal voices like the wild outburst rincringf in his ears ?
Never ! Nearer and nearer they come. He is conscious
of their hot and hissing breath. Their arms are outstretched
to clutch him. He will soon be in their embrace, fast locked.
Horrible ! They have him — they, not devils, but miners
like himself. He knows them, and that he is a saved man.
"■ Hurra ! hurra ! hurra '/' Never did the Mammoth Cave,
Old Kentucky, reveberate with such shouts as on the me-
morable occasion of the miner's rescue.
Exclamations of wonder and delight, too, are indulged
in by the visitors to the Cave, when they view the stalag-
mite columns, reachinof from the floor to the ceilinof of the
avenue in which we left them. They are, however, soon
startled by a hollow and ominous noise, the echo of their
footsteps ; but the guide soon quiets their apprehensions,
by the assurance that the noise is to be attributed to the
proximity of another large avenue underneath, which,
strange as the assertion may appear, has been frequently
visited. Near this place are a number of stalactites. One
bears the name of the ^< Bell," and on being struck, it
formerly sounded like the deep bell of a cathedral. But of
late years it has been quite mute, having been broken by a
tourist from Pennsylvania, who, we presume, was partial
to loud music.
Louisa's Bower and Vulcan's Furnace are now passed.
They are marked by a heap of something similar in ap-
pearance to cinders, and some dark colored water. The
New and Old Register Rooms are the next in succession.
The ceiling of these rooms is perfectly smooth, and would
be of an unsullied white, had not numerous persons, with a
34 . GUIDE TO THE
disgusting egotism, traced their obscure names upon it with
the smoke of a candle.
After the visitor's departure from the Old Register Room,
it is the usual practice of the guide to receive all the lamps,
with the exception of one, which of course, is necessary for
the purposes of exploration. A place of surpassing magni-
ficence is then entered. Here, as in many other portions
of the Cave, language w^ill be found inadequate to describe
what is to be seen. The hall (if we may call it so") is ellip-
tical in form, in dimensions, eighty feet long by fifty feet
wide. The two ends are nearly blocked up by stalagmite
columns of large size. Two rows of pillars, smaller than
the others, reach from the floor to the ceiling. They are
equidistant from the wall on either side, and extend the
full length. Now the purpose of the guide in requesting
the visitors to give up their lights is apparent. He has, in
the interval of departure from the Old Register Hall to the
arrival in the present portion of the Cave, so disposed the
lamps as to cause their reflections to fall upon the pillars
and ceiling, indeed, upon every detail of the Gothic Chapel.
Bearing as it does, a striking resemblance to the old cathe-
drals of Europe, the illumination under which it appears
tends to the heightening of effect. Nature has shown her
handiwork to advantage here. There is an apparent design
in the tout ensemble of the Chapel — a nicety in the separate
elaborations which seems the result of a long study of and
an intimate acquaintance with the arts. The pillars are so
massive and spring towards their proper arches so majesti-
cally ; the tracery is so delicate ; and, altogether, there is
so harmonious a subordination of one part to another, that
we are perfectly confounded at the thought of no human
hand having been employed there. Nature, whose common
function is to supply the material for human skill to work
THE GOTHIJ CHAPEL
MAMMOTH CAVE. 35
upon, has acted a double part here, for she has not only-
given the means, but has blended them into recognized form
and proportion. The place is well named, truly. It is reli-
gious in every aspect, and the light thrown on it seems
heavenly — a beaming from above, to warrant acceptance of
the services there performed.
The next object of interest at which the visitor arrives,
is called the Devil's Arm Chair. This consists of a large
stalaofmite column, in the centre of which is formed a
spacious seat, as though for the express purpose of afford-
ing to his Satanic Majesty all due comfort when fatigued.
When the tourists are shown this chair, it is obvious that
the same feelings sway them which sway their fellows /'of
whom we have had some experienced on the occasion of their
bemg shown the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey.
They are all desirous for the honor of a seat, even though
but for a moment, and considerable is the anxiety manifested,
lest a chance should be lost.
More stalactites and stalagmites are passed on the visitor's
departure from the Devil's Chair, and then they come,
in succession, to Napoleon's Breast-work, the Elephant's
Head, and the Lover's Leap. The last named is a large
pointed rock, more than thirty feet above the floor, projecting
into a large rotunda. It is really amusing to notice the excite-
ment, especially among the ladies, which the mere mention
of the name, is sure to upcall. Why the fairer portion
of the creation should feel so interested on the subject,
and so eager to have the reason of the name explained,
can be easily accounted for. They imagine for the moment,
that a lover has really sought the shades from that eminence,
through either lost or slighted affection ; and perhaps more
than one fair dauohter of Eve will ask whether her true
knight would take such a leap for her sake.
GUIDE TO THE
THE LOTER'S leap.
Immediately below the Lover's Leap is a hollow ; turn-
ing thence, to the left, and at a right angle to the previous
course, will be found a passage or chasm in the rock, three
feet wide, and fifty feet deep. This conducts the visitor to
the lower branch of the Gothic Avenue, at the entrance to
which is an immense flat rock called Gatewood's Dining
Table. To the right of this is a cave which is frequently
penetrated as far as the Coohng Tub. This is a beautiful
basin of water, six feet wide, and three deep. Into this
basin a small stream of the forest water pours itself from the
ceiling, ultimately finding its way into the Flint Pit, which
is at no great distance. Returning thence, the visitor will
pass for a second time Gatewood's Dining Table. It will
be found to nearly block up the entire way.
Continuing their w^alk along the lower branch, more than
half a mile, and passing, in succession, Napoleon's Dome,
the Cinder Banks, the Crystal Pool, the Salts Cave, etc. ;
and then descending a few feet, and leaving the cave which
continues onwards, the visitor enters, on his right, a place
of great seclusion, and remarkably grand. It is called
Annetti's Dome. A waterfall will be seen through a crevice
MAMMOTH CAVE. 37
in the wall of the dome. The water is a foot in diameter,
and issues from a high cave in the side of the dome, falling
on the sohd bottom, and passing off by a small channel into
the cistern, directly on the pathway of the cave. The
cistern itself is a very large pit, and is usually kept almost
full of water.
A beautiful sound like that of distant music will be heard
near the end of this branch (the lower). There is a crevice
in the ceihng over the last spring ; and it is through this,
that the ear is cognizant of the faUing of water in a cave
Re-entering the Main Cave or Grand Avenue, the tourist
will discover fresh objects on which to lavish his feehngs
as well as expressions of admiration, for the might and majesty
of the Deity is manifested in many forms and ways. Not
far from the stairs leading down from the Gothic Avenue
into the Main Cave, will be seen the Ball Room. It has
been so named from its manifest availabihty to the purposes
of dancing. It contains a natural orchestra, between fifteen
and eighteen feet high, and fully capable of accommodating
upwards of a hundred musicians. It also contains a gallery,
which extends back to the level of the high embankment
near the Gothic Avenue. The avenue here is high, straight,
Avide, and quite level for several hundred feet. The ex-
penditure of a trifling sum of money would furnish the
place with a floor, seats, and lamps necessary for a ball-
room. Here, the effect of music would be similar to that
produced by the same agency in the church ; while the
scene realized by a ball would be as striking, though cer-
tainly less solemn. It would be a truly interesting sight —
that splendid avenue, filled by thousands in the various
costumes of the world's inhabitants : some engaged in the
38 ■ GUIDE TO THE
graceful measure of the dance ; others in groups, either
looking on, or awaiting their turn to join in the pastime.
The road now before the visitor is a broad and handsome
one, although in some places rather dusty. Willie's Spring
is soon reached. This locality of the Cave is a beautifully
fluted niche in the left hand wall, made by the continued
trickling of water into a basin below. The Spring itself
has its name from a young clergyman in Cincinnati. This
gentleman, having a somewhat romantic temperament,
assumed the name of ^^ Wandering Willie." Taking with
him his viohn, he marched on foot to the Cave. Arrived
there, and being fatigued, he selected the spot since named
after him, for his place of rest, asking the guide to call him
in the morning. But a short distance beyond the Spring,
and close to the left wall, is the place where the oxen were
fed during the time of the miners ; and scattered around
are a vast number of corn-cobs, all quite sound, although
they must have remained where they are upwards of thirty
years. Near at hand in the wall on the left, will be found
a niche. It is of considerable size, reaching from the roof
to the bottom of a pit more than thirty feet deep. Down its
sides water of the purest kind is constantly dripping.
Subsequently it is conducted to a large trough, from which
the invalids obtain their required water while they remain
inhabitants of the Cave. This well near the bottom expands
into a large room, but there is no opening out of it.
The visitor will now pass the Well Cave, Rocky Cave,
etc., and arrive at the Giant's Coffin. This is a large rock
on the right, and derives its singular name from its obvious
resemblance in form to a coffin. It is an object of great
interest, and cannot easily be passed by without commanding
the notice of even the most careless of tourists.
A 4 0^4Mm^^<^
THE giant's coffin.
MAMMOTH CAVE. 39
In this portion of the Mammoth Cave begin those in-
crustations which have struck so many thousands with
wonder and admiration. How varied are they in form ;
and, separately, how changeable ! Yonder you recognize
what appears to be the frame of some huge animal. Look
again, and you fancy a group of birds are before you ;
viewed from another point, and some of the finny tribe may
be suggested to you. All is wonderful, indeed.
Proceeding about a hundred yards beyond the '' Coffin,"
the visitor will perceive that the Cave takes a curve, sweep-
ing round the Great Bend or Acute Angle, and then
continuing its proper course. On entering this vast and
magnificent amphitheatre, the guide always ignites a
Bengal light. The effect is brilliant — such, indeed, as a
poet may readily imagine, but with difficulty describe, but
of which mere ordinary mortals can have no conception.
Enchantment is the only word we can apply to the scene
thus presented. As in other portions of the Cave which,
like the present, exhibit characteristics of the beautiful or
the sublime, we have seen, in the place we mention, the
various ways in which a single feeling or passion may
be manifested. Delight has been in the ascendant with the
visitors, when gazing on the brilliant scene before them :
wefi have they proved its existence ! Some by loud expres-
sions, others by silence ; some, too, have wept, and many
have prayed. How subhme must be the scene to elicit all
The Sick Room Cave is opposite to the Great Bend. It
bears the name from the sudden sickness of a visitor some
years since, it is supposed, from his having smoked, with
others, cigars in one of its most confined nooks. A row of
cabins, built for consumptive patients, will be found imme-
diately beyond the Great Bend. Two are of stone, the
40 GUIDE TO THE
the rest are frame buildings. Standing in a line from
thirty to one hundred feet apart, their appearance is pic-
turesque, although the visitor cannot divest his mind of
melancholy impressions while contemplating them ; for the
malady which brings so many persons to those habitations
is one that attacks the young, that withers beauty and
destroys life in its early phase. These houses for the
ailing are well furnished ; and though we believe that there
is no cure for confirmed decline, we are confident that it is
to be eradicated in its young or mild stages. The air of the
Cave is certainly favorable to such an issue. So convinced
of this fact was a physician of high repute, formerly a
member of Congress from the district adjoining the Cave,
that he was induced to openly express his opinion, that the
State of Kentucky ought to purchase it, that it might be
enabled to establish a hospital in one of the avenues.
The following remarks on the subject of the Cave's
atmosphere, from the pen of a literary gentleman who
visited the place in 1832, will not, we hope, be uninterest-
ing to the reader.
'' It (the atmosphere^ is always temperate. Its purity,
judging from its effects upon the lungs, and from other
circumstances, is remarkable, though in what its purity
consists, I know not. But be its composition what it may,
it is certain its effects upon the spirits and bodily powers of
visitors, are extremely exhilarating, and that it is not less
salubrious than enhveninof. The nitre di^aers were a
famously healthy set of men. It was a common and hu-
mane practice to employ laborers of enfeebled constitutions,
who were soon restored to health and strength, though
kept at constant labor ; and more joyous, merry fellows
were never seen. The oxen, of which several were kept,
day and night, in the Cave, hauling the nitrous earth, were
THE S T A E CHAMBER
MAMMOTH CAVE. 41
after a month or two of toil, in as fine a condition for the
shambles, as if fattened in the stall. The ordinary visitor,
though rambling a dozen hours or more, over paths of the
roughest and most difficult kind, is seldom conscious of
fatigue, until he returns to the upper air ; and there it seems
to him, at least in the summer season, that he has exchanged
the atmosphere of Paradise for that of a charnel warmed
by steam — all without is so heavy, so dark, so dead, so
mephitic. Awe and apprehension, if they have been felt,
soon yield to the delicious air of the Cave ; and after a time
a certain jocund feeling is found mingled with the deepest
impressions of sublimity, which there are so many objects
to awaken. I recommend all broken-hearted lovers and
dyspeptic dandies, to carry their complaints to the Mammoth
Cave, where they will undoubtedly find themselves '^ trans-
lated" into very happy and bhthesome persons "before
they are aware of it."
The Star Chamber is considered by all visitors to be one
of the greatest objects of curiosity in the Cave. It is a mag-
nificent long hall, with perpendicular arches on either side,
and a flat ceiling ; the side rocks are of a light color, and
stand out in relief against the dark ceiling, which is studded
with innumerable sparkling substances, resembling stars.
The guide on approaching the chamber, takes the lanterns
from each visitor, and places them in a hole in the rock,
to subdue the fight and make the illusion more perfect.
Visitors are always lost in admiration, and quit this part of
the Cave most unwilfingly. The side rocks do not reach
within three feet of the ceiling, and no connexion can be
seen between the ceifing and the sides — the contrast between
the dark ceiling and the fight side rocks is so great, that
the ceiling appears to be at an immense distance, and after
42 GUIDE TO THE
lookincT at it a few minutes, the visitor fancies he is stand-
ing under the canopy of Heaven.
Leaving the Star Chamber, the visitor will perceive, in a
a kind of cavity in the wall on the right, an oak pole about
ten feet long and six inches in diameter, with two round
sticks, of half the thickness, and in length three feet, tied to
it transversel}?-, at about four feet apart. An ascent to this
cavity is made by means of a ladder ; the visitor then finds
the pole to be firmly fixed, one of its ends resting on the
bottom of the cavity, the other reaching across and forced
into a crevice about three feet above. The general suppo-
sition is, that this was a ladder used by the former denizens
of the place, in their procurement of the salts which are
incrusted on the walls in several parts. A different opinion,
however, was entertained by an intelligent medical gentle-
man, (Dr. Locke, of the Medical College of Ohio,^ that
a dead body had once been placed upon it. The Dr.'s
reason for this conclusion was based on the fact, that pre-
cisely similar contrivances were resorted to by some tribes
of Indians, in the disposal of their dead. Strange to say,
that though many thousands of persons had explored the
Mammoth Cave previous to 1841, it was not until that date
that the pole was discovered. Probably, ages as many as
we can count from the birth of Christ, have passed over the
world since it was placed here ; yet it is perfectly fresh,
decay has not even marked the bark which confines the
Some side cuts are next passed through. These, as their
names will imply, are caves opening on the sides of the
several avenues, and after continuing for some way, rejoin-
ing them. Generally speaking, they are short, though
some of them are more than half a mile in length. Quartz,
MAMMOTH CAVE. 43
chalcedony, red ochre, gypsum, and salts are found here.
Slowly the visitor wends his or her way to the Salts Room,
the ceiling and walls of which are covered with salts hang-
ing in crystals. These frequently fall like flakes of snow,
through the agitation of the air. In this Room will be seen
the Indian Houses. They are under the rocks, and are
small rooms entirely covered. Many of them contain cane
partly burnt, and ashes.
The next portion of the Cave visited is the Cross Room.
It is a principal section of the avenue. The most extraordi-
nary feature of the Cross Room is, that it has a ceiling of
one hundred and seventy feet span, and yet not a single
column to support it.
The portion of the Cave immediately succeeding the
place we have been describing, is known by the ominous
title, Black Chambers. They contain several ruins, which
consist of large blocks of different kinds of strata. They are
cemented together, and bear a striking resemblance to the
walls and pedestals of the old baronial castles of European
countries. Here the avenue is very wide — sufficient to
render it tedious to walk from one side to the other. A
little way beyond the ruins, and on the right, the tourist
will enter the right branch. It is on the same level, and
the ceiling is regularly arched. An ascent is then made
through the Big Chimneys, into an upper room. This is
about the same size as the Main Cave, the bottom of which
is somewhat higher than the ceiling of the one underneath.
The low, plaintive murmurings of a distant waterfall are
heard here as the visitor proceeds. They grow louder and
louder, until we find ourselves close to the Cataract, when
our ears are cognizant of a perfect roar. Very large per-
forations are seen in the roof, on the right hand side, from
which water is always falling — generally not in considerable
44 GUIDE TO THE
quantities, but after heavy rains, in complete torrents, and
with a roar that resounds afar, and seems to be shaking-
the Cave itself from its very foundations. The water falls
into a funnel shaped pit, and is lost to the sight in less than
Parties occasionally select this portion of the Cave as
their dining room. Their previous explorations have given
them a keen appetite, which, from experience already
gained, they know cannot be better satisfied than by the
excellent fare of the Cave House ; they have been careful
to furnish themselves from the abundant larder of that
establishment, and after the arrangement of the plates,
decanters, etc., prepare to do the " honors " with a gusto
that none but hungry people can know or appreciate. The
incidentals of a banquet like that we refer to, are necessarily
very interesting. The time, the place, and the varied
characteristics of the visitors all tend to the perfection of
enjoyment. We have noticed how different dispositions
have become harmonized — how, too, the good wish of Mac-
beth towards his guests, has been fulfilled or reahzed in
this Mammoth Cave ; certainly nothing could be more
perfect than the << digestion that waited on appetite."
From the particular point of the Cave to which we have
brought the visitor, a view of the main avenue will be
caught on the left. Continuing its general course, it exhibits
the same features of grandeur and solemnity as were notice-
able at the first. We have also pointed out to us the way
to the Humble Chute and the Cataract. The Humble
Chute is the entrance to the Solitary Chambers; but before
entering it we find it necessary to crawl on our hands and
knees, between fifteen and eighteen feet under a low arch.
The term " solitary," as applied to these chambers, is
exceedingly appropriate ; a person once in them, feels him-
MAMMOTH CAVE. 45
self entirely secluded from his fellow men. The profound
sense of loveliness will grow upon him, until, indeed, it
becomes almost too powerful for endurance. In this Cave
is a Fairy Grotto — a place that is a perfect realization of its
name — it is fanciful and pretty: just such a place as one
of the " little people" would select as a habitation. Stalac-
tites by the tens of thousands are seen, at various distances,
extending from the roof to the floor. They are of various
sizes, and of shapes that, in their variety at least, can only
be equalled by the 'kaleidoscope. They form columns,
irregularly fluted, and others quite solid. These are near
the ceihng, and, divided lower down, into small branches
similar to the roots of trees, exhibit the appearance of a
coral grove. The lamps with which the visitors are fur-
nished, being placed close to the incrustations on the
columns, this forest of stalactites is thoroughly lighted up,
and discloses a scene of the rarest and most astonishing
beauty. But lovely as this portion of the Cave is, it was
much more so a few years since — before numerous dis-
gusting caricatures of civilized creatures broke away many
of the stalactites ; and, as a memorial of their ignorance and
brutality, left them strewn in wild confusion on the ground.
Entering the main Cave at the Cataract, from the Fairy
Grotto, the walk is continued to the Chief City or Temple.
This is an immense vault. It extends over an area of two
acres, and is crowned by a dome of solid rock, one hundred
and twenty feet high. Perhaps equal in size to the
Cave of Stafl^a, it may be considered as a rival to the far-
famed vault in the Grotto of Antiparos, which has the
repute of being one of the largest in the world. There is
a remarkable circumstance connected with this portion of
the Cave, which cannot fail to attract the notice of even the
dullest tourist. It is the moving appearance of the dome, as
46 GUIDE TO THE
the visitors pass along — suggestive of the same appearance
in the sky, when the pedestrian is above the surface of the
earth. A large mound of rock rises in the middle of the
dome, nearly to the top. It is very steep, and forms what
is called the Mountain, Many persons, when ascending
this mound from the Cave, experience feelings of awe
more intense than they ever knew before. We can well
believe such to be the case. Immediately around the tourist
is a narrow circle, illuminated ; without it, both above and
beyond, there seems to be unlimited space. No object
is there for the eye to fasten on, no sound, breaking the
dull monotony, for the ear to catch. A vague fear
creeps upon the visitor, although he knows he is bounded
by stone walls, and actually safe. But it is necessary to
penetrate that profound darkness, think the Cave's fre^
quenters, and accordingly, numerous fires are kindled. So
gradually as they flicker upwards, so gradually is presented
to the sight a spectacle of transcendent magnificence. Let
the reader fancy a strata of gray limestone, opposite him,
breaking into steps from the bottom to the top, scarcely
discernible ; above, the lofty dome, having at the top, a
smooth slate of oval form, in outline exquisitely defined ;
and the walls sloping away from it till lost in the darkness
of night. A well known writer on the Mammoth Cave,
and its frequent visitor besides, (Lee) thus concludes some
remarks he makes upon the temple : —
"^ 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
examples of what man can do when aided by science ; and
yet, when compared with the dome of this Temple, they
sink into comparative insignificance. Such is the sur-
passing grandeur of Nature's works."
'^^•■^JSIi ^^--vifeii^^i^'^ Sift
TEE BOTTOMLESS PIT
MAMMOTH CAVE. 47
At the back of the Giant's Coffin is a narrow passage
leading into a circular room, of about one hundred feet in
diameter, with a low roof. It is designated the Wooden
Bowl, some say from the resemblance it bears to one ; while
according to the account of others, the name is derived from
the circumstance of a bona fide wooden bowl having been
found in this portion of the Cave, by a miner. On the
right the visitor will perceive the Steeps of Time, descending
which for about twenty feet, he enters the Deserted Cham-
bers. Their characteristics are very wild and varied.
Advancing two hundred yards, your notice will be attracted
by the ceiling, which presents a rough and broken appear-
ance for a little while, and then shows a surface waving,
white, and smooth. At Richardson's Spring we distinguish,
as we have already done in other portions of the Mammoch
Cave, the tokens of a bygone age and people. They are
the imprints of moccasins and of children's feet. The pits
in the Deserted Chambers are numerous — more so than in
any other portion of the Cave : the Covered Pit, the Side-
Saddle Pit, and the Bottomless Pit are the most noted.
The entire range of these Chambers is, in fact, so alternated
with pits, and is so bewildering from the serpentine form
and irregularity of its branches, that the visitor is not over
anxious to roam far from his guide, who, of course, is
intimately acquainted with every rood of ground to be
The Covered Pit is in a little branch to the left. It is
between twelve and fifteen feet in diameter. A thin rock
covers it, having a narrow crevice, with only a trifling
support on one of the sides. A large rock rests on the
centre of the cover, and the sound of a waterfall may be
heard, though the fall itself cannot be seen.
. _ --Wit
48 .' GUIDE TO THE
The pit next in succession, the Side-Saddle Pit, is about
twenty feet long and eight feet wide. It has a margin
about three feet high, extending length-ways ten feet.
Against this, the visitor may lean, and view the interior of
both dome and pit.
The place we now come to is the Labyrinth, entrance to
which is gained, after a short walk from the Side-Saddle
Pit, by means of a ladder. We make a descent. One end
of the Labyrinth leads to the Bottomless Pit, which it
enters about fifty feet down ; the other, after taking nu-
merous and fantastic windings, conducts to Goran's Dome.
This, though of recent discovery, is one of the most at-
tractive features of the Cave.
Louisa's Dome is in the neighborhood. It is an ex-
ceedingly pretty little place, not more than twelve feet in
diameter, but about twenty-four in height. Immediately
under the centre of the cave just left, and lighted up as
it frequently is, the visitors in it can be seen distinctly from
above, through a slight crevice in the rock.
In Goran's Dome it is impossible not to be struck with the
apparent intention of producing certain effects, which is a
characteristic of the place. We have noticed the same
kind of thing as manifest in another portion of the Cave —
the Gothic Chapel. Goran's Dome seems to have been
specially made for a certain purpose ; in every way it is
adapted to the convenience of numerous visitors.
At the termination of the Labyrinth, we come to a kind
of natural window, about four feet square, and three feet
above, the floor. This window opens into the interior
of the Dome, about equidistant from the top and bottom.
The wall of rock here is of triflino" thickness — not more
than eighteen inches ; it continues around on the outside
of the Dome, and along a gallery of a few feet in width,
MAMMOTH CAVE. 49
for upwards of twenty paces. A good view of almost the
entire space within is gained at another opening of much
larger size. The Dome is of solid rock, and very lofty —
perhaps two hundred feet ; its sides seem fluted and
elaborately polished. One of the wonders contained in
this portion of the Cave, is a huge rock, about thirty feet
from the window, and directly fronting it. Its resemblance
to a curtain is very striking ; we fancy we distinguish folds
in it, and look upwards in the endeavor to ascertain to what
it is suspended.
It may be necessary here to state, in order to account
more satisfactorily for what we shall have to say anon, that
it is customary for the guides to leave those on whom they
attend when the latter are expressing their admiration of
this curtain and the details in its vicinity. With feelings
wound up to a pitch of ecstacy by the things before them,
they have no idea of the change which awaits them.
Suddenly as thought, and as we may imagine light came
at the behest of God, the whole place is illuminated.
Every thing above, below, or around is shining in brilliant
light. The sides of the fluted walls — the yawning gulf —
the first towering to an indefinite height, the other de-
scending to where it would seem no soundings could be
gained. By what means the sudden illumination has been
caused, we need not say, for we have already mentioned
the sudden exit of the guides.
In leaving Goran's Dome, an ascent is made by means of a
ladder near Louisa's Dome ; and we continue on, having
the Labyrinth on our right, until it is lost in the Bottomless
Pit, which also terminates the range of the Deserted
Chambers. These were once considered as the end of all
exploration ; and perhaps this mistaken notion would have
continued to this day, had not a Mr. Stephenson of George-
50 . GUIDE TO THE
town, Kentucky, and a well known and adventurous guide
named Stephen, presumed that there were things to be
seen on the opposite side in every way as attractive as the
objects with which tourists were already familiar. The
means hit upon were a ladder. This idea was soon acted
on, and a stout ladder was eventually thrown over a chasm
of twenty feet wide, and more than two hundred feet deep.
The Bottomless Pit, similar to a horseshoe in form, has a
tongue of land twenty-seven feet long, and runs out into
the middle of it. From the extremity of this land, a bridge
of substantial workmanship, has been thrown across to the
cave on the opposite side. Some idea of the depth of the
pit, and of the ideas of awe which a contemplation of it
awakens, may be imagined, when we state that it is the
practice of the guides to let down pieces of lighted paper
into the abyss, which, descending lower and lower, ulti-
mately vanish from the vision, though long before they are
Having crossed the bridge to the opposite Cave, the
visitor finds himself in the midst of a rocky world. Over
the pit a dome of magnificent dimensions expands itself.
We then proceed along a narrow passage for a little dis-
tance, and reach a point, whence diverge two routes — the
Winding Way and Pensico Avenue.
The former is about fifty feet in width, with a height of
about thirty feet. Different estimates have been given of
its length, but taking the mean, we should be inclined to
say it was about two miles. The beautiful and the sublime
are mingled here ; and dull, indeed, must he be who is not
open to their influences. It is most interesting throughout.
For upwards of a quarter of a mile from the entrance, the
roof is exquisitely arched, about twelve feet high and sixty
feet broad. Formerly, it was encrusted with rosettes and
MAMMOTH CAVE. 51
various other formations. TJiey have been either taken
away or demolished ; and thus another instance is afforded
of the wretched VandaHsm which people calling themselves
civilized, sometimes indulge in. Here the walking is very
good, and so wide, that a dozen persons could run or walk
abreast for a quarter of a mile, to Bunyan's Way. This is
a branch of the Avenue leading on to the river.
The Avenue now changes its features. They have been
those of beauty and regularity ; they are now of grandeur
and sublimity, and are continued to the end. The way is
no longer even and smooth ; on the contrary, huge rocks
are scattered about in the wildest disorder. The roof, lofty
and magnificent, presents its long, pointed, or lancet arches,
suggesting a strong likeness to the elaborate ceilings of the
ancient Gothic Cathedrals of Europe. Feelings of true
religion must necessarily be upcalled here. The forms and
ceremonials of faith respectively acknowledged by the visi-
tors may be, and most likely are different, but that feehng
of devotion and love, which are necessarily at the foundation
of all religious opinions, are there ; it is the same God who
is worshipped, —
"Jehovah, Jove, or Lord !"
Making a gradual descent of a few feet, we enter a tunnel
of fifteen feet wide. It is on the left, and the ceiling,
twelve or fourteen feet high, is perfectly arched and
beautifully covered with white incrustations. Hence the
Great Crossings are very soon gained. In this part of the
Cave, it may be remarked, the guides usually jump down
some six or eight feet, from the place previously examined.
Where we now stand is a tunnel, and following our guide's
example, we soon rejoin him. The name Great Crossings is
by no means an unexpressive one ; though we must clear
52 GUIDE TO THE
the mind of an erroneous opinion held regarding it —
namely, that it was given in honor of the Great Crossings,
where resides the man who killed Tecumseh. The name
was really adopted because two large caves cross here.
No great distance from this point, an ascent is made up
a hill on the left. Proceeding a little way, over the ancles
in dry nitrous earth, somewhat at a right angle with the
avenue below, the visitor arrives at the Pine-apple bush.
Why this locality bears so euphonious a designation, it would
be difficult to tell. It is secluded in a very pretty spot ;
the air is fresh and reviving, and beneath its influence the
blood dances merrily through the veins. Indeed, we would
recommend the hypochondriac and love-sick, as well as the
admirers of romantic scenery, to visit this place.
Descending into the avenue already explored, a great
number of stalactites and stalagmites are passed in succes-
sion. These bear a strong resemblance to coral. In the
vicinity are to be found a multitude of crystals of dog-tooth
spa, shining most brilliantly. The place is called An-
gelica's Grotto ; and so beautiful is it as to impress its own
sanctity on every person with a mind susceptible of high
influences ; yet did a Clergyman systematically destroy a
number of crystals, that he might inscribe his name in the
vacancy thus left ; and what gave a spirit of cowardice to
the act, this reverend gentleman watched till the back of the
guide was turned towards him, ere he attempted the act of
barbarity. Had he done it boldly, there would have been
The visitors will now return to the head of the Penisco
Avenue, then turn to the right, and enter the narrow pass
which leads to the river, following its course for some hun-
dred yards ; descending all the while down a ladder, or
stone steps. Finally, they come to a path, which is cut
MAMMOTH CAVE. 53
through a high and broad embankment of sand. This con-
ducts to the far-famed winding way. In the opinion of
many persons, whose conclusions are entitled to deference,
this way has been channeled in the rock by the gradual
attrition of water. Should this be the case, and there is
certainly nothing to controvert the hypothesis, the imagina-
tion is lost in finding a date for the commencement of the
work. Was it contemporaneous with the birth of Christ,
or with the reign of Solomon, or, going to more remote times,
the era of Moses ? Beyond, far beyond them all — to a day
many more thousands of years before us than, according to
written tradition, the world itself has seen.
In length, the Winding Way is one hundred and five
feet, in width eighteen inches, and in depth seven feet. It
widens out above, sufficiently to permit the free use of a
man's arms. Throughout, it is a zig-zag, and the reader
may imagine that those persons who are of very corpulent
proportions, do not like very much to pass through it. No
companies of visitors can possibly enter this passage, except
in single file, and it is quite amusing to see how ladies and
gentlemen of the most delicate proportions eye the sides
askance, to satisfy themselves that a squeeze is not in re-
serve for them.
Aptly enough, the place entered after quitting this Umbo
is called Relief Hall. It is very wide and lofty, but not
long. Taking the turn to the right, the termination at
River Hall, distant about one hundred yards, is soon gained.
Two routes will now be visible — that on the left, conduct-
ing to the Dead Sea and the Rivers, that on the right, to
the Bacon Chamber, the Bandit's Hall, the Mammoth
Dome, besides a variety of other caves, domes, etc.
The Bacon Chamber, like Relief Hall, is very aptly
named. It has a low ceihng, clustered with canvassed
64 GUIDE TO THE
hams and shoulders. The visitor will next proceed to the
Bandit's Chamber, where he will arrive after a steep ascent
of twenty or thirty feet. Huge rocks obstruct the way ;
the consequence is that the passage is extremely difficult,
and that tourists are obliged to clamber on the best way
they can. There is a striking similitude between the name
and the aspect of the place It is a chamber vast and lofty.
The floor is covered with a mountainous heap of rocks,
which rise in an amphitheatrical form almost to the ceiling,
and are so arranged as to furnish, at different degrees of
elevation, galleries or platforms, reaching immediately
round the chamber itself, or leading off into some of its
hidden or secret recesses.
Unexpectedly as before, and in another portion of the
Mammoth Cave, this Hall is suddenly lighted up. The
guide has just slipped away from the company, to ignite
his torch, and now the awful looking roof, the towering
cliffs, and the clustering rocks are bathed in a brilliant
glare. It is almost out of the power of words or of the
artist's pencil to portray the scene presented. Such a
spectacle must be witnessed by the eye to be at all truly
Diverging from the Bandit's Hall are two caves ; that on
the left, leads to a multitude of other domes ; the other, on
the right, is called the Mammoth Dome. Directing his
steps towards the latter, the visitor, after a rough walk of
nearly a mile, comes to a platform commanding a somewhat
indistinct view of this magnificent dome. It is of recent
discovery, not more than two years having elapsed since it
was first explored by a German gentleman and the guide
Stephen. From the platform, persons are sometimes let
down by ropes, a distance of twenty feet, and when on the
ground, find themselves on the side of a hill, directly under
MAMMOTH CAVE. 55
the o-reat dome, from the summit of which there is a water-
fall. This dome is of immense height — more than four
hundred feet, and is considered, with perfect justice, one of
the most magnificent objects in the world. The visitors
who have been lowered, as we have described, ascend the
hill to which they were previously let down from the plat-
form ; continuing thence up a remarkably steep hill, for
more than a hundred feet, they reach its summit. A scene
of awful sublimity is commanded here. Looking down the
declivity, the visitor will perceive, some distance to the
left, those other visitors whom he has just quitted. The
latter are standing on the platform or termination of the
avenue along which they have come ; lower down yet, the
bottom of the great dome itself presents itself. Overhead,
at a distance of more than two hundred and eighty feet,
the ceiling is lost in the deep obscurity. It may be neces-
sary for us to state that the height of the ceiling was deter-
mined by Mr. E. F. Lee, civil engineer, and subsequently
confirmed by discovering on the summit of a hill, where
man's foot had never trodden before, an iron lamp. The
astonishment of the guides on the occasion may be better
imagined than described. They, as well as the visitors
with them, were fairly astounded ; and doubt respecting
the cause would have continued down to the present date,
had it not been for the following circumstance : — An old
man was living at the Cave Hotel. He had been employed
as a miner in the saltpetre establishment of the Messrs.
Wilkins and Gratz, some thirty years previous ; and on
being shown the lamp, he said without the least hesitation,
that it had been found under the crevice pit. The name
surprised all present ; but the old man continued to inform
his questioners, that during the time his late employers
were engaged in the saltpetre trade, a person of the name
66 GUIDE TO THE
of Gatewood stated to Wilkins, that the probabilities were,
that the richest nitre earth was under the crevice pit. Its
depth was, at that day, totally unknown, and Wilkins, to
ascertain it, took a rope 45 feet long, and fastened this very
lamp to it. He then caused it to be lowered into the pit,
but while descending, the string accidentally caught on
fire ; the result was the loss of the lamp. Wilkins, how-
ever, made an offer of two dollars reward for its recovery.
It was accepted by a miner, who, on account of his dimi-
nutive stature, was nicknamed Little Dave. With a rope
round his waist, and torch in hand, he was lowered to the
depth of forty-five feet, and then drawn up. On regaining
the spot from which he had descended, this miner was
found to be dreadfully alarmed. He trembled in every
limb, his eyes were fairly starting out of his head, and not
a single word could we get from him for the first five
minutes. Subsequently, however, he began to collect him-
self, and said that no amount of money, not even the Na-
tional Debt of England, would induce him to make the
trial a second time. By way of excusing this resolve, ex-
pressed so firmly, and to be kept so rehgiously, Little
Dave entered into the most astounding relations. Baron
Munchausen's fictions were probabilities compared to what
our miner related ; but it is supposed that the height at
which poor Dave was suspended, upwards of two hundred
and forty feet, was the only course of his alarm. Like
many other gentlemen, he was not constituted for an ea?-
alted station, and the accident that placed him in it, though
only for a short time, took away all the sense with which
nature had gifted him. But the correctness of the old
miner's estimate was established, guides being sent to the
place where the lamp was found, other persons being sta-
tioned at the same time at the mouth of the crevice pit.
MAMMOTH CAVE. 67
Words were exchanged by the parties, and sticks thrown ;
and by these means the truth was made known.
From the mouth of the cave to this pit the distance is
not very long — less than half a mile ; notwithstanding, a
circuit of more than three miles must be made, before the
grand apartments immediately beneath, can be reached.
The illumination cast upon that portion of the great dome
on the left, and of the Hall on the top of the hill bearing to
the right, as witnessed from the platform, is certainly one
of the most subhme spectacles we can call to mind, although
our experience in such matters is considerable. To be
seen to the greatest advantage, however, a different position
should be taken by the visitor. Then should the Bengal
lights be ignited, and by their aid, the dome, apparently
towering to a neighborhood with the heavens ; the hall on
the summit of the hill, with its multitude of stalagmite
columns, all so majestic ; and its other details, each beau-
tiful in itself, and the whole harmonious in their arrange-
ment — will be seen.
That the exclamations of admiration elicited by a sight
like this, are many and correct, who can doubt ! Euro-
peans, who are good judges of what is beautiful or sublime
in Nature, have been heard to declare, that to see such a
sight as that presented by the dome under illumination,
they would gladly travel ten thousand miles. Several
liable to illness, and whose voyage across the Atlantic,
speedily and comfortably as it is now performed, has en-
tailed much sickness, have confessed that the spectacle is
a perfect compensation.
With this portion of the Mammoth Cave concludes, in
most cases, the day's explorations. True, that the sun has
not set, and that there is plenty of time left ; but, no ! the
visitors feel anxious to return. How is this ? Can we ac-
68 ■ GUIDE TO THE
count for it ? Yes ; the tourist's feelings are a realization of
what Byron has recorded on his immortal page. With
perfect propriety can it be said of the admiring company,
" Dazzl'd and drunk with beauty,"
they are in no fit mood to seek for other objects of interest.
They have seen enough, and they now come from the
great, the sublime, the crowning one, deeply penetrated by
Another scene of wondrous sublimity awaits the visitor
in the morning. He has heard from others of it, and
begins to wonder whether their accounts have not been over
colored ; whether, in fact, what he is about to see will come
up to, or can surpass, what he has already seen. He thinks
not, and prepares to ascertain. New from the slumbers of
the night, and refreshed by both the pure air and the whole-
some viands of the Cave House, he starts again with more
like himself and the faithful guide.
With a pace accelerated by expectation, the party pro-
ceed onwards, and arriving at the Cave, seek the River
Hall. It is there before them — sublime in its every feature.
The river has been recently overflown. That is manifest,
for how flush, how heaving it is.
The River Hall descends similar to the slope of a moun-
tain ; and like the firmament at midnight, when the stars
come forth in their glory, the ceihng stretches away — away,
it seems to infinity. You proceed onwards, making a gradual
ascent, and keeping pretty close to the right hand wall.
You will then observe on the left, a steep precipice. Over
this you will look down, being able to do so by numerous
blazing missiles, upon a broad black sheet of water, eighty
feet below. It is called the Dead Sea ; and the name, so
MAMMOTH CAVE. 59
awful and so referriable to awful events, cannot be better
verified than here. There is a terrible grandeur in the
place. Long after you have left it, the eye continues cog-
nizant of its many sights, the ear of its many sounds. The
memory holds them, and they even haunt the dreams of
The descent is made by means of a ladder. It is of
about twenty feet ; the visitors then find themselves in
the midst of gigantic rocks, heaped pile upon pile. In the
mingling of lights and shadows, the persons who have come
to see the River, although dressed in modern fashionable
style, will seem of the locality a fitting race. Slowly they
move in files — men, women, and children being together —
with lamps in their hands. These lamps are guarded with
extreme care, as they are liable to go out through any in-
advertence. Gradually their illumination falls upon the
different details ; the ceiJing,the walls, the cliffs, the ravines.
Now the fight, thrown upwards, is reflected through the
fissures in the rocks ; presently it is reflected from towering
cliffs, every outline of which it defines, thus refieving the
most intense darkness beyond. In some parts the water is
not seen, although it is heard ; but its murmur sounds-
awfully. In others, its appearance is brilliant through the
light of the lamps.
At the foot of the slope the River Styx winds its way. /
It is aptly named : people might well imagine it to be the
fabled stream whose name it bears. Four passengers only
can be conveyed over this river at the same time. The
guide fastens lamps at the prow of the boat, and the various
images are reflected in the murky pool.
There is another mode of crossing the Styx. It is by
means of a bridge overhead, composed of abrupt precipices.
To avail himself of this bridge, the tourist must ascend
60 GUIDE TO THE
a very steep cliff, then enter a cave above, three hundred
yards long. Leaving this, he will find himself on the
bank of the River, more than eighty feet above its sur-
face. He will then command a view of the persons who
are in the boat, and also of those upon the shore. The
lamps in the canoe, when viewed from this distance, have
a singular and striking appearance. Their glare is that of
gigantic eye balls. Sitting somewhat in the shade, the mere
outline of the visitors' figures can be seen, and they look
like so many shadows — the spirits of the departed, being
rowed over that profound flood to a place where final doom
is to be awaited.
Turning their eyes from the boat and its contents, the
persons on the shore will see those of their companions who,
like themselves, have come over the bridge, grouped very
fancifully. Their appearance is much less spectral than
that of the people on the water. They seem human still,
and give a warranty that a return to the upper world is
The Styx is the smallest river in the Mammoth Cave.
Having passed it, the visitor walks over a pile of large rocks,
and finds himself on the banks of the Lethe. Here, again,
will be found a striking resemblance between natural ob-
jects and the names given them. How striking is forget-
fulness typified in that river ! We remember seeing many
years ago a picture of the Waters of Oblivion, painted by
John Martin, which, in its general details, in the tout
ensemble, might have been taken as a representation of this
cave-stream and the objects which surround it.
Looking back, the tourist will perceive a line of men and
women descending' the high hill from the cave, which runs
over the river Styx. Two boats are kept, and the parties
who have come by the two routes — that is, either down or
THE RIVER STYX
MAMMOTH CAVE. 61
over the Styx, may unite and descend the Lethe about a ^
quarter of a mile. Throughout the whole distance the
ceiling is very high — upwards of fifty feet we should say.
On landing, a lofty and level hall is entered. It is called
the Great Walk, and extends to the banks of the Echo, a
distance of three or four hundred yards. The Echo is a
honajide river — wide and deep enough, we believe, to float
a steamship as large as the '^ Atlantic" or " Pacific." On
the occasion of embarking, persons will readily notice the
lowness of the arch : three feet constitute the entire passage
left for the boats. The consequence of this is, of course, a
complete doubling up on the part of the passengers. In-
deed, their position is anything but comfortable while they
are being rowed over, but their sufferings, if we may so
designate their sensations, are not of much duration, a couple
of boats' lengths being quite sufficient to put them where no
complaint can be made of the Cave, so far as the advantages
of height and width are regarded. The boats used here
are capable of carrying twelve persons each. The passage
down the river is replete with pleasure and interest. The
extraordinary character of the scene — its magnificence,
must necessarily awaken the highest feehngs of admiration.
A sudden ecstasy is up-called, which, after holding posses-
sion of the soul for a time, subsides, and is succeeded by
sensations of quiet felicity. Few persons who ever wit-
nessed the scene, we think, could have allowed an angry
feeling to find a dwelling in their bosoms, while under its
influences. Powerfully, most powerfully is the benign
mandate of Christ, for those whom he redeemed to hve in
love and peace with one another, impressed here. Nature,
in her aspects of beauty, magnificence, and solemnity, is a
mighty illustrator of Him whose work she is ; and there
are thousands of instances of her power to improve or purify
62 GUIDE TO THE
those on whom both oral and written precepts have had no
power. May we not believe that the stream of Lethe in
this Mammoth Cave of Kentucky, had it a voice, could tell
us of such changes, wrought on its bosom or its banks, in
the souls of many a visitor ?
Low and musical is the rippling of the water, as heard by
those in the boat as well as on the shore. Beating under
low arches and into the cavities of rocks, it may be called
the very pulse of the place. So strongly does sound magnify
itself in this portion of the cave, that the report of an ordi-
nary pistol is like that of the heaviest artillery. It is pro-
longed for minutes, and ultimately dies away in low thunder-
We remember well on the occasion of a late visit to the
Cave, that the whole boat's company joined simultaneously
in song while gliding down this river Lethe. How sublime,
how truly religious was the effect! Many are the cathedral
choirs we have listened to, and deep have been our impres-
sions of their excellence, but they did not amount to those
we experienced here. That such was the fact cannot cause
surprise. The cathedral, elaborate as it may be in its
carving and emblazonry, the beauty of its stained windows,
and the skill of the painter, is, after all, no more than a
human temple — a pile erected by hands ; and its choir, but
a band of trained singers. But here, in this Mammoth Cave,
we gaze upon the temple of God himself, while the hymn-
ings we listen to are those of spontaneous worship, bursting
from the rapt soul, and ascending to the Sanctuary of heaven.
Sometimes a full band of music has been tried on the
Echo. What the effect has been can be imagined. Truly
may it be said that such things cannot be obliterated from
the memory. Let us add, that they ought not to be, for
they assuredly make better creatures of us all.
MAMMOTH CAVE. 63
The river Echo is about three miles in length. There is a
rise in the water, of only a few feet, through which the
three rivers are united. When there has been a long suc-
cession of heavy rains, these rivers sometimes rise to a per-
pendicular height of more than fifty feet, and, with the
cataracts, exhibit an aspect of awful grandeur. When the
rise of the water does not extend even beyond two feet, the
, low arch at the entrance of the Echo cannot be reached by
the visitor. Occasionally, great apprehensions have been
felt by the tourists, in consequence of their being caught on
the opposite side, by a sudden rise ; but the guide has con-
siderately informed them of an upper cave, admitting of a
passage, leading round the arch to the Great Walk.
Purgatory is the name applied to this cave or passage.
Once, for a distance of more than forty feet, the visitors
were obliged to crawl their way through it, in consequence
of its lowness ; lately, however, it has been enlarged, and
now persons can walk erect, to their entire satisfaction.
Through this improvement, an excursion can be made to
Cleveland's Avenue, almost entirely by land, and the
tourist will rest satisfied of his not being caught beyond the
Echo. In that river and the others which are found in the
Mammoth Cave, that very extraordinary fish, the White
Eyeless, are to be seen. On the occasion of our last visit
to the Cave, we were shown two of them. We, as w^ell as
the persons with us, examined the fish attentively, but not
one of us was able to distinguish any thing hke an eye ;
nor have the skilful anatomists who have experimented
upon them, been at all more successful. Indeed, it has
been asserted by men most celebrated in their profession,
that these fish are not only without eyes, but also exhibit
other anomahes in their organization, highly interesting to
Naturalists. At the time the rivers of the Mammoth Cave
64 GUIDE TO THE
were first crossed (1840), and since, several endeavors were
and have been made to discover whence the White Eyeless
fish come, and, also, whither they go; but though various
conjectures have been formed, nothing that can be looked
upon as satisfactory has been arrived at. All is still mys-
tery, and we suppose will continue so until the end of time.
The barometrical measurement of the rivers in the Mam-
moth Cave has been frequently taken. According to Pro-^
fessor Locke, they are on a level with the Green River.
But Mr. Lee, civil engineer, is of a widely different
opinion. He says : " The bottom of the Little Bat Room
is one hundred and twenty feet below the bed of Green
River. The Bottomless Pit is also deeper than the bed of
Green River ; and so far as a surveyor's level can be relied
on, the same may be said of the Cavern Pit and others."
We may remark here, that at the time of Mr. Lee's
visit in 1835, the rivers of the Cave were unknown, and
that there is no doubt as to their being lower than the bot-
tom of the pits, or of their receiving the water flowing from
the latter. If we take the statement of Lee as correct, the
bed of these rivers is lower than the bed of Green River at
its junction with the Ohio, taking as conclusive the report
of the State Engineers, relative to the extent of fall between
a point above the Cave and the Ohio, and of the entire cor-
rectness of this report we cannot entertain a doubt. Mr.
Lee thus continues his remarks on the subject : '' It becomes
then an object of interesting inquiry to determine in what
way the waters are disposed of. If they are emptied into
Green River, the Ohio, or the ocean, they must run a great
distance under ground, and have a very trifling descent."
We must again join the visitor in his explorations.
Leaving the Echo, a walk of four miles brings us to Cleve-
land's Avenue. Between the river and this point, several
MAMMOTH CAVE. 65
objects of interest are met with. Their enumeration would
be confusing ; therefore, in the trust that all who read these
pages will visit the Cave itself, if they have not done so
already, we will proceed with our more immediate details.
We pass in succession El Ghor, Silliman's Avenue, and /
Wellington's Gallery, to the foot of a ladder. This leads
up to the Elysium of Mammoth Cave. Those among our
friends who are subject to weariness or thirst when walking,
will be glad to hear that CarneaPs Spring is in the portion of
the Cave we are describing ; many thousands slake their
thirst here. A sulphur spring is also close at hand. Its
water equals, both in point of quantity and quality, that of
the celebrated White Sulphur Spring of Virginia. Standing
at the head of the ladder we have named, the visitor finds
himself surrounded by stalactites ; they are above as well
as about him. With little or no aid of the imagination,
these stalactites may be taken for magnificent clusters of
grapes. Plump, round, and polished, they would, even on
a nearer inspection, do credit to the sculptor's art. The
place where they are found is called Mary's Vineyard, and w
is the commencement of Cleveland's Avenue, one of the
chief glories and wonders of this underground world.
About one hundred feet from this spot, taking the right,
over a rough and rather 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 decorated in the
most magnificent style imaginable, having well arranged
draperies of stalactite of every possible shape. You go on
to the room of the Holy Sepulchre adjoining. Unlike the
place you have 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,
66 GUIDE TO THE
to a charnel house. In the centre 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 f risst the exclamation which 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 !"
This reminds us very forcibly of an occurrence we wit-
nessed some years since, at the annual exhibition in London
of the late Haydon's pictures. Among them was a repre-
sentation of the Crucifixion — so life-like in all its details,
and so melancholy true in its chief figure — that of the dead
Messiah, that an eminent foreigner, a Catholic, on seeing it,
threw himself, it seemed instinctively, on his knees, and
kissed the canvas.
Returning from the Holy Sepulchre, the tourist com-
mences his wanderings throug-h Cleveland's Avenue. It is
of considerable length, extending from one end to the other,
three miles ; while its height and width are respectively
fifteen and seventy feet. This Avenue is truly magnificent ;
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 places ; which even the dullest cannot behold
without experiencing sensations quite new to them, but
which, in the cultivated and intellectual, awaken feelings of
Professor Locke has designated some of these formations
as onlophilites, or curled leaf stones ; in lecturing on them,
hesa5'^s, — '^^'They are unlike anything yet discovered, equally
beautiful for the cabinet of the amateur, and interesting to
the geological philosopher."
MAMMOTH CAVE. ' 67
Another gentleman, (a clergyman,) also speaks of these
formations. His remarks are to the following effect.
So exquisite and beautiful is Cleveland's Avenue, (the
place where they are found) that it is out of the power of
painter or poet to conceive anything like it. Such loveli-
ness cannot, indeed, be described. Were the sovereigns of
wealthy states to spend their all on the most skillful lapi-
daries they could find, with the view of rivaling the splen-
dor of this truly regal abode, the attempt would be entirely
vain. What then, is left for the narrator ? People must
see it ; and then they will be convinced that all attempts at
adequate description are useless. The Cabinet was disco-
vered by Mr. Patten of Louisville, and Mr. Craig of Phila-
delphia, accompanied by the guide Stephen. It extends
in nearly a direct line, about one mile and a half, ^some
persons say two miles). It is a perfect arch of fifty feet
span, and of an average height of ten feet in the centre, —
just high enough to be viewed at ease in all its parts. It
is encrusted from end to end with the most beautiful forma-
tions, in every variety of form. The base of the whole is
carbonate (sulphate) of lime, in one part of dazzhng white-
ness, and perfectly smooth ; and in other places, crystallized
so as to glitter like diamonds in the light. Growing from
this, in endless diversified forms, is a substance resembling
solenite, translucent and imperfectly laminated. It is most
probably sulphate of lime (a gypsum) combined with sul-
phate of magnesia. Some of the crystals bear a striking
resemblance to branches of celery, and all are about the
same lenrrth, while others, a foot or more in lencrth, have
the color and appearance of vanilla cream candy. Others
are set in sulphate 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
68 GUIDE TO THE
the incrustations are massive and splendid, others are as
delicate as the lily, or as fancy Avork of shell or wood. Let
any person think of traversing an arched way like this for
a mile and a half, and all the wonders of the tales of youth
— not forgetting those gorgeous fictions, <^"' The Arabian
Nights," seem tame and vminteresting, when brought into
comparison Avith the living, growing reality. The term
^"'growing" is not a misnomer; the process is going on
before your eyes. Successive coats of these incrustations
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 orna-
ments for Nature's boudoir is proceeding around you.
Here and there through the whole extent, you will find
openings in the side, into which you may thrust the person,
and often stand erect in little grottos, perfectly incrusted
with a delicate white substance, reflecting the light from a
thousand glittering points. Many visitors are so enraptured
with the place, that they cannot repress exclamations of
surpise or worship. With general unity of form and ap-
pearance, there is considerable variety in the Cabinet.
The Snow Ball Room for example, is a secretion of the cave
described above, some two hundred feet in length, entirely
different from the adjacent parts ; its appearance being aptly
indicated by its name. If a hundred rude school boys had
but an hour before completed their day's sport, by throwing
a thousand snow balls against the roof, while an equal
number were scattered about the floor, and all petrified, it
would have presented precisely such a scene as you witness
in this room of Nature's frolic. These " snow balls" are a
perfect anomaly among all the extraordinary forms of crys-
tallization. They result, it is supposed, from an unusual
combination of the sulphates of lime and magnesia, with a
MAMMOTH CAVE. 69
carbonate of the former. We found here and elsewhere in
the cabinet, fine specimens of the sulphate of magnesia,
(Epsom salts) a foot or two long, and three inches in thick-
Leaving the quiet and beautiful cabinet, you come sud- ^
denly on the Rocky Mountains. Compared to the previous
scenes, they furnish a contrast so bold and striking as almost
to startle the visitor. Clambering up the rough sides some
thirty feet, he passes close under the roof of the cavern he
has just left, and finds before him an immense transverse
cave, one hundred feet or more from the ceiling to the floor,
with a huge pile of rocks half fiUing the hither side ; they
were probably dashed from the roof in the great earth-
quake of 1811. Taking the left hand branch, the tourist is
soon brought to "Croghan's Hall," which is nine miles from
the mouth, and is the farthest point explored in that direc-
tion. The ^"^Hall is fifty or sixty feet in diameter, and
perhaps thirty-five feet high, of a semi-circular form.
Fronting the visitor, as he enters, are massive stalactites,
ten or fifteen feet in length, attached to the rocks like sheets
of ice, and of a brilliant color. The rock projects near the
floor, and then recedes with a regular and graceful curve
or swell, leaving a cavity of several feet in width, between
it and the floor. At intervals, around this swell, stalactites
of various forms are suspended, and behind the sheet of
stalactites first described, are numerous stalagmites, in
fanciful forms. The curious often bring some of them
away. On the last occasion of our visit to the Mammoth
Cave, we saw one which bore a strong resemblance to the
horns of a deer, being nearly translucent. In the centre of
this hall a very large stalactite hangs from the roof, and a
corresponding stalagmite rises from the floor, about three
feet in height and a foot in diameter, of an amber color,
70 GUIDE TO THE
perfectly smooth and translucent like the other formations.
On the right is a deep pit, down which the water dashes
from a cascade that pours from the roof. Other avenues
could be most likely found, by sounding the sides of the
pit, if any one had the courage to attempt the descent.
While in the part of the cave we have been describing,
the visitor is far enough away from terra supra; and his
1| dinner, which he has left at the Vineyard, claims his atten-
tion. He hastens back to the Rocky Mountains, and takes
the branch which he has left on his right hand, when
emerging from the Cabinet Pursuing the uneven path for
some distance, he reaches Serena's Arbor, which w^as
lately discovered by one of the guides, named Mat. The
descent to the Arbor seems so full of peril, from the position
of the loose rocks around it, that many tourists will not
venture it. Those, however, who have scrambled down,
regard this as the very crowning object of interest — the ne
plus ultra of their explorations. The Arbor is not more
than twelve feet in diameter, and about the same in height,
of a circular form ; but is, of itself, floor, sides, roof, and
ornaments, one perfect, seamless stalactite of a beautiful
hue, and exquisite workmanship. Stalactitic matter, in
the shape of blades or folds, hangs like a drapery around
the sides, and reaches half way to the floor; while opposite
the door, a canopy of stone projects. It is most chastely
and elegantly ornamented, and has been truly designated a
" fit resting place for a fairy bride." Everything about it
seems fresh and new. But the invisible and unknown
arranger has not quite completed this, — his master piece ;
for the visitor can see the pure water trickling down its
tiny channels, and perfecting the delicate points of some of
the stalactites. Truly may the man exploring this portion
MAMMOTH CAVE. 71
of the Mammoth Cave, quote Holy Writ, and say, referring
to the ghttering things about him, —
"That Solomon, in all his glory, was not like one of these."
But beautiful and extraordinary as are the formations in
this avenue, it has been shorn of its lustre to some extent.
Young ladies, whose elders and parents should have taught
them better, have, acting on a criminal, though pretty gene-
ral impulse, broken from the walls, and that too, in violation
of the published rules, those exquisite productions of the
Almighty Power, which required perhaps a hundred ages
to perfect ; and these have been destroyed in a minute.
This want of veneration and care for the beautiful in
either Nature or Art, finds its agreeable antithesis in many
European countries. We will mention the small cave of
Adelburg, belonging to the Emperor of Austria, in substan-
tiation of what we have said. The cave in question has
been placed under the protecting care of Government.
Ouofht not the same thinsf be done with the Mammoth Cave ?
Consider its mineralogical treasures alone, and the answer
must be in the affirmative.
On his return from Serena's Bower, the visitor will pass,
on his left, the mouth of an avenue, upwards of two miles
in length, and of great height and width. A hall will be
found at the termination. This avenue is generally sup-
posed to be longer than any other in the Cave. Midway
between the commencement and termination of Cleveland's
Avenue is a huge rock. It is nearly circular, quite flat at
the top, and three feet in height. This is appropriately
called the "Dining Table." It is of great capacity, more
than one hundred persons occasionally seating themselves
around it. Here, by the aid of the guides (who are picked
men, so far as general knowledge and obhging manners are
72 • GUIDE TO THE
regarded"), the banquet is often spread, and the operation is
no sooner concluded, than the guests fall to with a gusto
the reader will be able to imagine.
The air of the Cave, with the circumstances attendant
on its exploration, seem to inspire the visitors, and accord-
ingly, many brilliant repartees and sayings are exchanged.
The banquet is, indeed, two-fold. ; for while it can be called,
in one respect, the " feast of reason and the flow of soul,"
with equal justice it can be designated, in a physical sense,
as worthy of Ude himself.
In the midst of laughter and enjoyment, our friends, the
visitors of this magnificent Mammoth Cave, have forgotten
all past cause for grief, anticipate no evil for the future.
Like the hero and heroine of Byron's latest poem, it may
be said of them, — ■
" The present, like a tyrant, holds them fast."
But, presently, the speech is broken. By what? Is there
anything sufficiently potent to dispel so extatic a state of
existence ? Yes, and what is more, the agency is remark-
ably simple, being no more than a hint from the guide, that
the river may possibly rise, and shut him and his compa-
nions up there. Then how sudden is the move ! how
quickly does the uplifted morsel drop from the mouth ! and
what a rattle there is of plates and dishes ! Nevertheless,
the hint of the guide is only an innocent ruse. Experience
is the parent of judgment, and the quality in him is con-
summate. He sees the strong admiration of those near
him — an admiration that promises to keep them where they
are till long past midnight; and he knows the only mode
whereby he can work out his intent, is an appeal to what
is perhaps the strongest passion of the soul — fear. The
deception is soon dispelled ; not so, however, until various
MAMMOTH CAVE. 73
Stumbles have been made by the visitors in their hurry to
reach the Echo. And when they do reach it, great is their
joy at finding that it has not risen.
It must not be concluded that all objects^f interest have
been left behind. Far from it: the visitors, on their way
to the hotel, have much to awaken profound sensations in
their bosoms. The stillness — how deep is that ! and how
solemnly magnificent is the scene in all its details ! What
is that which bursts upon the silence ? Are the rocks tum-
bling to pieces ? or is the solid earth itself bursting into
millions of fragments? These are the questions that are
mentally put. But the continued echoes in the Gave explain
the cause. A pistol has been fired, and like thunder among
the hills, it reverberates through the thousand sinuosities
of this caverned earth.
Presently, our friends begin to have a thought or two
concerning the time. They have seen so much since they
entered the Cave, and so varied and powerful have been the
sensations upcalled, that they cannot be expected to have
any very strict idea of the hour. Of one thing, however,
they are certain — it is, that one night at least has passed
over their heads. Approaching the entrance, their " assur-
ance is doubly assured ; " for lo ! there, afar, are the first
gloamings of the new day. Fallible human nature! you
have committed another mistake : that is not the rising sun ;
it is that mighty luminary upon his western throne. So-
lemnly, and, oh, how beautifully, does he sink away from
vision ; and with what thoughts, kindred of the scene around
them, do the tourists seek the pleasant abode they quitted
some twelve hours since !
In the course of our descriptive matter, we have not, we
beheve, said anything relative to the proprietorship of the
Mammoth Cave. It is now, and has been for some time
74 GUIDE TO THE
past, in the possession of St. George Croghan, Esq., son of
the late Dr. Croghan. He is a resident of Louisville, and
a gentleman of great enterprise. He has made many dis-
coveries in the Cave. Some time since Mr. Croghan, while
exploring an avenue of recent discovery, found a young
child lying on the ground. From the bloom upon its cheek,
and other indications of vitality, the worthy gentleman very
naturally concluded that it had strayed into the Cave, and
belonged to one of the farmers in the neighborhood. He
felt the little stranger's cheek, and was perfectly astounded
to find it cold. The child was dead. Mr. Croghan, as
soon as he had come to this melancholy conviction, ordered
the body to be carried to the hotel, that it might be claimed
by the parents ; but neither father nor mother came ; and
to add to the worthy gentleman's surprise, after the lapse
of twenty-four houi's, there was nothing left but ashes.
This circumstance must be taken as a striking proof rela-
tive to the purity of the air in the Cave. Anything placed
there — even the body of a deceased man, woman or child,
on which decay, under ordinary circumstances, is always
the speediest to lay its "effacing fingers" — preserves the
freshness of life ; but submit it to the atmosphere without,
and then how swiftly is the great fiat of the Almighty
"Ashes to ashes — dust to dust."
We feel that we should be neglecting one part of our
duties, were we to omit the enumeration of the advantages
that are connected with a visit to the Mammoth Cave, Ken-
tucky. Here we append them.
No accident more serious than an occasional stumble,
causing little pain, but not so much as a discoloration,
has ever been known to occur here.
MAMMOTH CAVE. 75
Visitors, both on entering and departing from the Cave,
are not Ukely to contract colds. They are, on the contrary,
usually dispelled by a visit to this mighty and beautiful
In no part of the Cave is there to be found air of the
In the Cave, a boast made erroneously by the Irish nation
has been fully realized, for there no reptile has ever been
found. It seems as though a charm prevailed there, to bid
them away. Neither do quadrupeds trouble the Cave with
In every part of the Mammoth Cave, combustion is
Decomposition, and its loathsome adjunct, putrefaction,
have never been found here.
The water of the Cave, exquisitely pure, is generally
fresh ; and there are, besides, one or two sulphur springs.
There are two hundred £ind twenty-six avenues in this
magnificent Cave ; forty-seven domes ; eight cataracts ; and
The temperature of the place is 59° Fahrenheit, and
remains precisely the same, winter and summer.
No sound, not even the loudest peal of thunder, can be
heard beyond the distance of one quarter of a mile in the
We have mentioned in a former part of our details, the
many testimonies that have been borne by different persons
to the surpassing beauty and grandeur of the Mammoth
Cave. The following are to be found in the book kept at
/the neighboring hotel: —
'' I have stood near the summit of Etna, watched the
working waters of the Mselstroom, seen the glaciers of Ice-
land, visited the Giant's Causeway, stood on Termination
76 GUIDE TO THE
Rocks, at the Niagara Falls ; but never saw any thing
that could come up to the Mammoth Cave, in extent, beauty,
grandeur, and variety.
J. A. G."
Query, — Where are your eyes ? Why, hundreds come
up to it every year.
Among the prose testimonies (we shall insert some poeti-
cal ones] of which the Mammoth Cave has been the subject,
we shall be pardoned the insertion of the following. The
first letter, now in the hands of the publishers, is, it will
be perceived, from that liberal and accomplished woman,
^ Lady Emmeline Stuart Wortley, who was recently a visitor
here, and whose impressions of the United States have just
been issued from the press.
"New Yobk, Nov. 20th, 1850.
"My Dear Sir:
" The hurry of my arrangements previous to my departure
for England, will not permit me to say ' good-by ' to
your family and yourself a second time. I, however, trust
that the day is not far distant when we shall meet again. I
have already conversed with you relative to my opinions of
the United States, so far as its government and social life
are concerned ; I have also, I believe, expressed (i fear un-
\ worthily) the admiration which its natural beauties have
upcalled within my very ' heart of hearts.' Among these
let me instance the Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. This is
a place which all tourists should visit — so magnificent, ex-
traordinary, and gigantic in its several details, as, in itself
alone, to well repay a voyage across the broad Atlantic.
During my short but pleasant stay in America, I was a
frequent visitor at the Cave ; and in every succeeding
occasion I found fresh cause for admiration. Though a
MAMMOTH CAVE. 7^
humble and trusting believer in the truths of Christianity, I
am, nevertheless, persuaded that the Almighty has im-
f pressed certain characteristics on some of His works, to
prove His existence and to vindicate His power, to the
children of men ; and never, I can safely say, were those
evidences more strikingly displayed than in the Mammoth
" Let every person visit it who can ; and at the same time,
not forget the home attractions of the neighboring hotel. I,
with many others, have tested them : no report, written or
oral, can do them justice.
* » * • *
My dear sir,
Yours very faithfully,
Emmeline Stuart Wortley."
Some circumstances of considerable interest were con-
nected with this amiable lady's visit to the United States.
She is the daughter of the venerable Duke of Rutland,
between whom and the Hon. Daniel Webster, a warm
friendship has long existed. Both at the time the ^ Glorious
Daniel ' was in Great Britain and since, the Duke of Rut-
land has been warmly pressed by him to pay a visit to
America ; but though the promise to do so has been given,
it has not been realized — solely because official duties on
one side and the encroachments of age on the other have
stood in the way. The daughter, knowing this to be the
case, felt that she could be the proxy of her parent, and
gratify a wish she had long entertained, at the same time.
She came to the United States, was a sharer of Mr. Web-
ster's hospitalities, and has since returned to England to do
78 GUIDE TO THE
what few British tourists of rank have hitherto done —
namely, to speak favorably of the Western Republic.
The annexed letter is from another English personage of
high rank and talents.
<* Boston, June Zd, 1851.
<« My Dear Sir:
<' Last week I had the pleasure of exploring, with several
other persons, the Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. I make
use of the term ' pleasure ' in no conventional sense, but
in its true and honest one, as significant of a happy feehng.
<< I have described many things in my life, with, I believe,
some force and capacity, but were you to offer me the world,
I could not, either to my own or your satisfaction, describe
what I have seen in the monarch of caves from which I
have just come.
'^I can but speak in the way of likeness or analogy.
Well, then, I must say that in the Mammoth Cave is a
cathedral in which any Lord Primate might be proud to
preach, did not the solemnity of the place admonish all hu-
manity to humbleness — a cathedral whose gigantic buttresses
and delicately wrought friezes, quatre foils, &c., are res-
pectively as bold and minute as any ever found in the great
Christian Temples of the upper world.
<^ There are portions of the Cave called ^Arbors,' a fit
title ; fanciful in their arrangement, and beautiful in their
colors, they are fit for the reposing places of the prettiest
fairies that ever danced in a ring beneath the moonlight.
Then there are chambers of Cimmerian gloom — quite cha-
otic ; but which, when they catch the reflectionof light, display
stalactites of brilliant hues, hanging as it were in mid air:
and afar overhead, a second firmament studded with stars.
"• We are taken along a river named after, and like what
MAMMOTH CAVE. 79
the imagination may conceive of the fabled Styx. How-
silent is all upon the shores of this river. How appropriate
it seems, as a flood running between two worlds ! Then there
are Domes — large and beautiful ; avenues of miles' length ;
chambers, water-falls, and recesses. Verily they must all
be seen to be understood.
<^' The neig-hborhood itself is a delightful one. Among its
chief recommendations are the comfort and courtesies tourists
from all nations can find at the Cave Hotel. He, indeed,
must be a grumbler, and out of sorts with the world, who
cannot make himself at home there.
^' Yours ever, very truly,
" G. P. James."
We conclude our letters with the following. It is from
an Italian painter of high repute ; who, after giving to the
world, by the aid of his pencil, many of the exquisite scenes
of his own land, has come to America, for the express pur-
pose of studying its features of pictorial sublimity.
"Louisville, May 14:th, 1851.
"^ Dear Friend :
'^'^ The Mammoth Cave in Kentucky is, indeed, a wonder.
I have visited it day after day, and can safely assert that I
never saw anything in Nature to surpass it, in features of
true grandeur and sublimity.
^< I repeat, that my imperfect knowledge of the language
spoken in this country, will not permit me to discuss more
clearly than I do, the scenes which this extraordinary Cave
presents ; but now I think again, I do not regret my imper-
fection on that point, for I feel, that were la native, I could
not speak as the reality demands I should.
^^ There is mutuahty between all things great and beau-
tiful : thus, a picture is often painted to the imagination by
80 GUIDE TO THE
tones of music, — and we hear rare melody by means of a
picture. These analogies are perfect in the Mammoth Cave ;
and besides, great judgment seems to have been exercised
in naming the different divisions. '^ The Bottomless Pit"
and ''■ Serena's Arbor" were, tome at least, strikingexampJes
of this. The first, indeed, seems to be deep beyond the
plummet's reach ; the other is fanciful and beautiful to an
extreme. The Domes, too — what shall I say of them t they
are full of grandeur.
^' Before I close my letter, I will relate an anecdote to you,
in connection with this Mammoth Cave. I had returned
from my tenth visit, and was quietly seated at my supper
beneath the hospitable roof of the Cave Hotel, when who
should come suddenly upon me but my old friend . He
questioned me about what I had seen, told me he should
commence his own visits to the Cave next morninrr. So an
hour passed, when starting up, exclaimed, ''> But I don't
know wether this Cave can be worth exploring or not, since
you have so little to say about it. The truth is that I felt,
as I have stated myself here to be, incapable of giving any
thing like a proper description of the wonders the intelligent
guides had pointed out to me. I said, in reply to my friend,
'^ Wait till to-morrow morning, when you will be able to
judge for yourself." He did so, and when he came back
in the evening, and also on several evenings subsequently,
he was less profuse of words then I had been, though his
admiration, I am convinced, was equal to my own.
* * H« * * *
<^ I need not speak to you of the ready attention and
urbanity of the gentleman who holds sway at the Cave
Hotel. You have experienced them, and I hope you will
inform other persons of them.
^' Yours, very truthfully,
<' Marco Pogliani."
MAMMOTH CAVE. 81
The following poetical attestations of the Cave's wonders
and beauties, are perhaps not the worst specimens that
have been published. They are from the pens of different
tourists, who, it will he perceived, have chosen their own
particular subjects : —
ON THE ENTRANCE TO THE MAMMOTH CAVE.
To wliat new world are we now tending ?
Is it one of pain and sin ?
"Whither are our footsteps wending ?
How darkness hems us in !
That stream of water falling quick —
How ominous its tone :
We pause — we tremble — we are sick,
And feel deserted — lone.
The water falleth in a pit,
Like tears of those who weep;
Far over head deep gloom doth sit,
And Nature is asleep.
On, on we go — soon cheer'd in soul,
For we are told that light,
Bursting from stern night's control,
Is near to trance our sight.
MAMMOTH CAVE. 83
^ ON THE GRAND GALLERY.
With roof magnificent, like mighty minds,
(So manifest in their commandings)
Tliou standest, naught of aid from things
Lesser than thyself, demanding.
No hand of mortal man hath trac'd upon
Thy borders, forms of such rare beauty,
As to our raptured sense there now pi'esents,
And unto which we bow in duty :
Aye, bow, and lowly, too, for God hath grav'd
On thee, much that of Himself doth tell ;
And storm-defying, they remain for e'er,
Proof even against Time's potent spell
MAMMOTH CAVE. 85
ON AUDUBON AVENUE.
Silent and cloud-like, yonder roof seems moving,
Gray in its hue, and awful in its form :
What can it be ? a sign of Heaven's reproving ?
Or herald of the approaching storm ?
Neither ; and soon we know, for high aloft,
Quick catching light, that burns nor scorches,
A multitude of gems, of colors soft,
Meet the full flame of lighted torches.
How beautiful the scene ! it is as tho'
The Voice omnipotent which made us all,
Had spoken once again, and bade light flow.
To banish hence for e'er, night's ebon pall.
MA3IM0T1I CAVE. 87
ON THE LITTLE BAT ROOM.
Where is the man can count them —
Those gloomy looking things,
Lying in torpidity,
Till Spring expands their wings ?
Can they e'er awake to life,
They seem so very dead ?
Can they cleave a way thro' air,
Where flow'rs and winds are wed ?
Yes : of death and after-life,
Significant are they —
We lie torpid in the earth,
Till the Eternal Day.
Oh, 'tis well to ponder o'er
Things like those now near us —
Tho' they speak of life and death.
Still their end 's to cheer us.
MAMMOTH CAVE. 89
ON THE CHUliCH.
The luiiid-directed liuud of nuiu
Rare wonders oft hath wrought ;
To piles of beauty and of power
High treasure he hath brought.
In the Old World there now are seen
Great monuments of Art, —
Gazing on which the soul expands,
And purer grows the heart.
Ancient Churches of renown,
Where the grand organ's swell,
And partner'd voices make us think
We 'mong the angels dwell ;
When the stain'd glass of ages past,
Presenteth to the sight,
The Life and Death of Him we love,
In hues of Heav'n's own light.
When tombs of those who, in their day.
Walked lordly on the earth,
Are close beside the humble beds
Of lowly peasant worth.
90 GUIDE TO THE
How beiiutiful must service be
Performed in such a fane !
How all unlikely men should feel,
Beneath its shadows vain I
But look around, and say if aught
Of man's work hath appeared,
So truly great, and so sublime.
As (his which God hath rear'd.
Hence we require no organ tone,
With other sounds, to give
Due sanctity to scenes around —
Faith's self doth with us live.
No blazon'd scutch'on here's requir'd —
No banner old and torn : —
The thoughts that elevate us here^
Are not by service worn ;
The song that's sung, the prayer that's breath'd,
Inspired by love's own flow,
In accents of unstudied force,
To God, up gushing go.
MAMMOTH CAVE. 91
ON THE MUMiVIY FOUND IN THE CAVE.
The tenure of our stay on earth is fleeting,
Tho' in extravagance of our conception,
We take for stable what is but a reed,
And often find, too late, that all's deception.
How petty are our aims of life ! how fickle
The friends we put our trust in, and most estimate !
How glowing are the hues we paint our hopes in !
How more than earth can yield of happiness our fate !
Oh, we need monitors to tell us truly,
The one great secret of our world-creation, —
That knowing all there is to know, our spirits
May not succumb to gloom or consternation.
Ponder well over that mummy form, so stark,
And it will tell thee that 'tis best, alone to fix
The inmost soul where, thron'd above the Heavens,
Sits One in whom eternity and love do mix.
Oh, who, beholding thee, to earth returning.
Will prate of older lineage with a brow elate :
Let thy remembrance keep him dumb, thou Mummy, —
How many hundreds of his series dost thou out-date.
MAMMOTH CAVE. 93
ON THE LOVER'S LEAP.
Beautiful women, beware
Where your glances fall,
Else they may from manly hearts
Tender feelings call ;
And if it should happen so,
Love met no return —
That frost and snow alone were where
Summer's sun should burn ; —
Then how terrible might be
The mishaps of those —
The disappointed Nightingales
Of a froward rose.
Let not such discarded wights
Come to Mammoth Cave,
If they have a wish to live,
Or their limbs to save.
Like the knell of Banquo brave,
Manifest to sight,
The " Lover's Leap'' — alas !
Will Macbeth "invite."
MAMMOTH CAVE. 95
ON THE GREAT BALL ROOM.
Shame on thy elaborations,
What is all thy genius ?
'Tis circled by a span.
Often, often do we hear
Of thy splendid meetings
Where exchang'd are lovely smiles,
And affection's greetings.
Satins, silks and gems are there —
Music, too, doth breathe ;
While the richest llow'rs of earth,
Cunningly ye wreathe.
But, tho' all is splendid there —
Luring to the eye.
And the air comes fitfully,
Like a perfumed sigh ;
Here we do behold a scene
Ye never could achieve,
And in which the fancy ne'er,
Save seeing, could believe.
96 GUIDE TO THE
Fairy footsteps well might lull
On this sounding floor,
Tender vows of constancy.
Fairies here might pour.
Oh, how well can we imagine
A scene so gorgeous heie I
Shunning views of lordly life,
^Yhich the s}»irits sear.
MAMMOTH CAVE. 97
ON THE GIANT'S COFFIN.
"Let there be light !" such were the words
God utter'd long ago ;
Wheu darkness like a murky cloud,
Descended quick and low.
And now it seems His voice again,
The mandate high had given, —
For see ! how beautiful the scene.
As fair as yonder Heaven ;
Where'er we gaze around, we see
Gems multiplied, and beaming
Thro' what was naught but darkness late-
Like hope 'mid anguish gleaming ;
Let us but trust, that when oppress' d
By pain, by care or sorrow,
We may have made manifest,
Such a glorious morrow —
The likeness of the change that now
Charmeth the soul and eyesight ;
Let us believe it will be so,
As sunrise followeth night !
MAxMMOTH CAVE. 99
ON THE STAR CHAM13EK.
How beautiful yon sky appears,
How bright each twinkling star ;
And look, a comet we now see,
With awful form, afar.
'Tis now in Heaven ; we see it not
Where we so late did look.
What does it mean ? 'tis harbinger
Of deeds that once earth shook !
Of that dark time when hands were dy'd
In blood, and carnage sway'd ;
When millions rush'd into the fight —
To win or die — as bade !
Is it a star like that of him,
Who, in his mad career,
AVas looked on by his fellow-men
With wonder or with fear ?
Is it like that (ascendant now,
Large, and outshining all),
Destin'd to a dark reverse,
Doom'd to a sudden fall ?
100 ■ GUIDE TO THE
Aye, no ; no firmament is that
Ye gaze on, high, above, —
No stars are they now twinkling,
Like eyes that watch for love.
'Tis the great Cave's firm roof itself,
That doth attract the gaze, —
Those are its variegated gems
Of never-fadina: blaze.
MAMMOTH CAVE. 101
ON THE FAlllY GROTTO.
Some Fairy of the olden 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 flowery stream,
Imagine, where, in "phrenzy fine,"
He had his wanton " Dream."
Titania here might move along.
And Puck his frolics play,
And Hermia in her race of love.
Out-pace the hours of day.
The fancy sees them passing now.
How beautiful they seem !
And now they're gone — we have them not,
They've vanish'd in the gloom.
MAMMOTH CAVE. IC'
ON THE MOUNTAIN.
As we go onward, the o'er-arching dome
Seems to move with us every step we take,
Like to the sky, when on the earth we roam,
And find few things about, the view to break :
Or like accusing Conscience, hunting one /
Who, after he has done some deed of ill,
Fearing a capture, public ways doth shun.
Fancying the Avenger near him still.
Then in the profound of gloom we mingle,
And feel not of the living earth, nor near
Our fellows' habitations — single
In sense, we stand : all, all around how drear !
But light, the talisman of life and man,
Bursts cheerfully, oh, cheerfully to view :
Glorj' sits thron'd within the caverned span.
And all seems beautiful, and proud, and new.
Domes of the far renowned Romish pile.
And ye, Sophia — and ye, too, preacher Paul,
What are your glories unto those that smile.
On this huge " Mountain," and about us fall !
MAMMOTH CAVE. 105
ON THE RIVER SCENE.
Sure we are tending to some world of doom,
And from our own have gone forever ;
How very awful is this circling gloom !
How loudly sounds tliat one word, never I
Never! we hear it still. Alas ! we know
All of our pleasant ways are ended ;
No more shall music o'er our senses flow —
Darkness and horror here are blended.
Or, when light glimmers o'er the wide expanse,
(Its stream, and arched rocks revealing),
Or concentrating in a point the glance,
We see red eyes upon us gleaming.
What are they — those red eyes of fearful glare,
Now shining o'er the dim, dark wave ?
Do they belong to fiends, who, dwellers there.
Are foes to Him who every blessing gave ?
And does the neighboring stream, to which we come
Anon, Oblivion's waters bring ?
Drinking from it, shall all of memory's sun
Be banish'd hence, like bird upon the wing ?
MAMMOTH CAVE. 107
ON SERENA'S ARBOR.
Well did the monarch wise of old,
Declare if e'er himself euthron'd,
That, spite his ermine and his gold
There sprung no flow'r that would have own'd,
With aught of pride, affinity
With such a painted thing as he.
He said the daisy labored not,
Nor did the lily spin,
But that he knew no king who'd got
Gems of those flow'rs the twin.
No earthly diadem could be
Rarer than they in royalty.
108 CIUIDE TO THE
Then, liuniau grandeur, clieck thy pride,
Man lowly bow thyself.
Since simplest Nature can deride
Thy words of time and pelf.
On scenes like this, thou need'st but gaze
To purify thy heart and ways.
OCT 2 i i9ai"