xt7mpg1hj62j https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7mpg1hj62j/data/mets.xml Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952. 1893  books b92-153-29699184 English Gibson Brothers, : Washington, D.C. : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Mammoth Cave (Ky.) Mammoth Cave by flash-light  / by Frances Benjamin Johnston ; with twenty-five illustrations from Miss Johnston's own photographs. text Mammoth Cave by flash-light  / by Frances Benjamin Johnston ; with twenty-five illustrations from Miss Johnston's own photographs. 1893 2002 true xt7mpg1hj62j section xt7mpg1hj62j 

(never before photogr-phed).



                 BY FLASH-LIGHT

                                BY FRANCES BENJAMIN JOHNSTON.


                         WASHINGTON, 1). C.:
                      GaISON BROS., P1NIERS AND BOOKBINDERS.





    The Mammoth Cave of Kentucky-since its discovery early in this century-has ranked foremost among the natural wonders of the
world. There is no other known cavern which approaches it. either in extent or magnitude; and for nearly a hundred years this marvel
of natural architecture has been a source of unfailing popular interest, drawing thousands annually to its rocky portals.
    Numberless books, pamphlets, essays, poems, and descriptive articles have been written about Mammoth Cave, but, owing to the
eternal night of its depths, there was never any wholly successful effort to picture this subterranean world until the perfection of
photography by artificial light made possible an absolutely correct reproduction of its curious and beautiful formations.
    It would be difficult to find a more interesting field for the practice of flash-light photography than that offered by the Cave; a fact
so well appreciated by the management of DEMOREsT's FAMILY MAGAZINE that the work of obtaining an extensive series of Cave photographs
was first undertaken upon a commission from that publication. When these photographs appeared therein, they constituted the most
successful and elaborate effort ever made to illustrate the Mammoth Cave. As many views have been added to those already published,
they are now issued in book form, with a brief sketch of the history of the Cave, and its chief points of interest. The accompanying
illustrations of the Cave interior-made by the use of magnesium light-have been reproduced from the original photographs without
any "- retouching" or " working-up," and, representing many points never before attempted, they have been pronounced by experts among
the finest series of underground pictures yet produced.  A number of the series are republished through the courtesy of DExOREsT's

                                             LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

No. 1. Frontispiece-" The Last
        of Summer."
No. 2. The Cave Hotel.


No. 3. Pathway to Cave.
No. 4. A Famous Guide William Gar-
No. 5. Entrance to Cave.
No. 6. Looking Backward.
No. 7. The Iron Gate.
No. 8. First Saltpeter Vats.

No. 9. Entrance to Gothic Avenue.
No. 10. Kentuckv's Cairn.
No. 11. The Bridal Chamber.
No. 12. The Arm-Cbair.
No. 13. Elephant Heads.
No. 14. Stone Hut.
No. 15. The Bottomless Pit and Bridge
          of Sighs.
No. 16. The Giant's Coffin.

No. 17. The Star Chamber.
No. 18. Scotchman's Trap.
No. 19. Fat Man's Misery.
No. 20. The Bacon Chamber.
No. 21. On Echo River.
No. 22. Dinner in the Cave.
No. 23. The Rocky Mountains.
No. 24. The Corkscrew.
No. 25. Exit of Echo River.


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Ia mmoth eave

  The Mammoth Cave is located in Edmonson County, Kentucky, and lies
about 90 miles south of Louisville, just half way between that city and Nash-
ville. It is now easily and pleasantly accessible by the main line of the Louis-
vILLE  NASHVILLE R.R., running through Glasgow Junction, from  which
point a narrow-gauge road makes direct connection with the Cave Hotel.
There are two trains daily, both from the North and South-the trip from
Louisville requiring about four hours, while from Nashville the time is an hour
or so longer, as the train connections are not so close.
  T1le LoUIDVILIZ  NASHVILLE R.R. permits all passengers holding first-class
tickets to stop over at the Cave Junction, on notice to the conductor, and the
excursion can be made comfortably, with a delay of only from 12 to 24 hours,
while special excursion rates are offered to parties of ten or more traveling
together from any point over the L.  N. road.
  The Mammoth Cave estate is a charmingly wild and picturesque stretch of
country, about 2,000 acres in extent, and the only settlement upon it is the CAvE
HOTEL, a comfortable, old-fashioned hostelry, resembling an old-time Southern
manor-house, which is not only frequented by throngs of tourists, but is popular
asa summer resort. The scenery of this region is ruggedly beautiful, the steep
ravines are clothed in rich verdure, and the picturesque Green River winds in
and out between its rocky cliffs about a thousand yards below the Hotel. The
air here is deliciously pure and bracing, there is abundant game in the neigh-

boring woods. while the river affords excellent fishing; all which, added to the
supreme attraction of the Cave, render the place unusually inviting for a
holiday trip.
  The hotel accommodations are unpretentious, but extremely comfortable
and reasonable in price; with special rates, both in Hotel and Cave fees, to
parties of ten or more.
  The history of the Mammoth Cave, since its discovery, is necessarily romantic
and full of tradition, while from a scientific point of view it stands as an inex-
haustible object-lesson of Nature's mighty forces. The popular and generally
accepted story of its discovery relates that a hunter-trailing a wounded bear
-first entered it in 1809. However this may be, the fact is well established
that the nitrous earth in the avenues near the entrance was worked during the
war of 1812-14 to obtain saltpeter for the manufacture of gunpowder. The
rude leaching-vats, the great heaps of lixiviated earth, the clumsy lines of log-
pipe have remained undisturbed since that time, while the hoof-prints of oxen
and the wheel-ruts of the miners' carts are still easily distinguishable in the
Cave floor.
  The Cave property originally consisted of about 200 acres, and the first trans.
fer was made, according to early records, in consideration of " forty dollars
and a mule," The estate changed hands half a dozen times during the next
forty years, and the names of former owners are preserved in several avenues.

5 Flas-bitf.


and in such points as " Gatewood's Dining-table." .. Gorin's Dome," and
"Croghan Hall." In 1845 the Cave estate was purchased by Dr. Jobn Croghan,
of Louisville, and is, at present. held by his heirs.
  The geological formation of Mammoth Cave is attributed by scientists to
the chemical action of water charged with carbonic acid gas upon the extensive
deposits of limestone peculiar to this section of the country.  Prof. N. S.
Shaler estimates that the limestones of the sub-carboniferous group of rocks in
the caverned district about the head waters of the Green River attain a depth of
several hundred feet, and cover an area of at least ten thousand square miles,
with an agg-egate length of underground galleries extending one hundred
thousand miles.   In Edmonson County alone there are some five hundred
caverns. while on every side the surface of the country bears evidence of the
tunnelled regions underground. "Sink-holes" and yawning-pitsare frequently
found, while brooks and small streams of water have totally disappeared. The
country, at the period of the Cave formation, was covered with dense vegeta-
tion; rain falling upon decaying leaves and plants became impregnated with car-
bonic acid gas, and this acidified water, trickling through the limestone crev-
ices, hollowed out, during unnumbered centuries. the vast caverns of this
subterranean world.
  It is unfortunate that no exact and recent estimate is obtainable of the di-
mensions of the Mammoth Cave; the figures given being those of Owen's
Geoloyical Sunwy of Kentaeky, published in 1854. According to this authority,
the extent of the great Cave is estimated at hundreds of acres, through which
wind 223 avenues, with an aggregate length of 200 miles, and diversified by 47
domes, one of which is supposed to be 300 feet high: 23 pits, one 175 feet deep;
8 waterfalls, and several bodies of water, of which 3 are termed rivers. 2 are
nominally lakes, and one a sea. The avenues average 21 feet in height and
width, although in many places the larger galleries widen out to immense pro-
portions, and it is assumed that 12,000,000 cubic yards of limestone have been
displaced in their formation. The Cave has five levels, or stories, with an
aggregate height of 328 feet, the upper tiers being remarkably dry, while the
lowest depth is that of the drainage, or river level. The river halls, as they
are called, contain several bodies of water--the Dead Sea, River Styx, Lake

Lethe, and Echo River-independent of each other in the dry season, but
united in a single stream when rains and freshets bring high water. These
rivers were not discovered for more than thirty years after the Cave was first
entered, and for a long time the problem of their outlet was a mystery, the
supposition being that they disappeared into the depths of the earth. At
length it was observed that the current set in and the Cave rivers rose when
Green River was high, and, when the waters of the latter stream fell, the Cave
rivers also subsided. The connection of Echo River with Green River was finally
established when it was found that chaff, thrown on the subterranean stream,
issued from beneath a rocky, vine-decked cliff into a gloomy pool, and flowed
thence into a small stream emptying into Green River. This discovery empha-
sizes some peculiar facts concerning Green River, which is said to receive its
supply entirely from underground streams, and, being extremely cold in tem-
perature, never freezes, even through the severest weather.
  Aside from its vast proportions, there are many unique points of interest
about Mammoth Cave. Its avenues are filled with odd and picturesque shapes,
hewn out of the living rock by the velvet, but irresistible, force of the waters.
Many of its galleries are beautified by elaborate stalactite formations, and others
are incrusted with the most delicate mineral traceries, seemingly studded with
myriad diamonds or covered with crystalline flowers-the fairy-like florescence
of gypsum or sulphate of lime. Not the least curious of its features is the
animal and plant life of the Cave. Patient investigation has discovered an as.
tonishing number of distinct species of both fauna and flora, but of the former
those most interesting to the casual visitor are the eyeless fish and crawfish
found in the Cave streams, and the grotesque, long-legged crickets that dwell
in the crevices of the walls. Like everything else which grows in the Cave, the
fish are colorless, translucent, and, as a rule, not only sightless, but showing no
trace of sight organs. The Care flora consists of five or six species of fungus,
always spotless white, and frequently very beautiful in form. They flourish
best in the damp regions, and are usually found hanging in masses of filmy
silver fringe from the bridges and wooden supports in the river halls.
  In this connection it is curious to note that mushroom farming was once car-
ried on in the Cave with considerable smmccess. Still another phenomenon of



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this strange country is the absolute fixedness of the temperature, which, in all
seasons, seldom varies a degree above or below 54'. As a result, there is per-
ceptible a constant and very strong draft of air at the entrance gate, and the
Cave is said to " breathe outward " during the six months of the year when the
outer temperature is above 54', and to "inhale" the other six months when
the mercury drops zerowards. Neither summer nor winter, night nor day is
known in this weird lower world. Time seems to stand still, and an eternal
silence broods over its depths.
  After years of exploration by guides, scientists, and thousands of tourists,
the actual extent of the Cave is still a matter of conjecture, and it would require
days of continual tramping to traverse even the known avenues. With the
average visitor, two well-beaten tracks are followed, known as the -"Long
Route " and the " Short Route," and these have been so arranged as to include
every point of interest within reasonable walking distance. For those who
wish to make further explorations, there are various side excursions; notably to
the Mammoth Dome and Egyptian Temple, to Chief City, and through other
avenues no less wonderful, but more difficult of access.
  The " Short Route," embracing the avenues nearest the mouth of the Cave,
is estimated to cover a distance of 7 miles-requiring about four hours for the
trip. The fee, including the services of a guide, is 2.00, and ordinarily parties
are sent over this route two and three times a day.
  The " Long Route," extending across the river and through more distant
avenues, is estimated at 18 miles in length, and requires from eight to ten hours
for the journey. Parties for the Long Route usually make the start early in the
morning, dinner being sent in to them, and the return to the Hotel is made in
time for supper. The fee for this excursion is 3.00. These routes are quite
distinct, and unless the visitor makes both expeditions, it is hardly possible to
appreciate the extent and marvelous diversity of the great cavern. As to the
fatigue and exertion involved, it is safe to say that it is easier for the average
tourist to travel 18 miles in these underground passages than it would be to
walk a half of that distance over an ordinary country road, and the reasons
are very apparent.
  The temperature is uniform, the air is highly oxygenated and of extraordi-

nary pnrity, producing a sense of lightness and exhilaration which tends greatly
to ward off fatigue, while there are frequent stops for explanations by the
guides, who, also, at certain points produce elaborate illuminations by Bengal
lights. Tourists who enter the Cave are strongly advised to don old and com-
fortable clothes and easy footwear, while ladies are urged to wear the sensible
and convenient suits provided in the hotel, which will relieve them from drag-
ging skirts, and add ten-fold to the pleasure of their exploration. As a matter
of course, no person is allowed to enter the Cave without an experienced
guide.  Most of these guides, in addition to years of training and expe-
rience, have made many daring explorations and discoveries, and have grown
famous in their vocation.   One of the best known of the earlier guides
was Stephen Bishop, the stories of whose exploits are Cave traditions; and
among his capable successors are William Garvin, who has been " guiding"
for thirty years; Eddie Bishop-Stephen's nephew-' Josh," " Willie,"
Henry, and several others. Explorations of the Cave, under their guidance,
are absolutely safe, but their instructions should be followed with the utmost
care, as there are manifold dangers to confront the foolhardy and adventurous.
It may be weil to suggest that, in case of separation from the main party, the
safe thing for a person to do is to remain in one spot until he is missed and a
search instituted, for to wander even a few yards from the right road may be
fatal. Each guide knows the exact number he has brought into the Cave, and
as he counts his party frequently, the rescue of a stray tourist is seldom more
than a matter of a few minutes.
  The Mammoth Cave is so bewildering in its gloom and immensity that it is
difficult to form at once an adequate idea of its magnificent proportions or of
its beautiful and curious formations. The seemingly endless avenues, the
great domes and pits, the stalactite draperies, the delicate gypsum florescence,
with the flickering lights, which only intensify the perpetual darkness, make
the initial visit seem rather like the passing of some strange illusion than an
actual experience. In order to define more clearly these first confused im-
pressions, a systematic list of the points of interest along each route is given in
place of the usual attempt to picture in words what each person must experience
in order to fully appreciate.


  A start for either route is made by the gathering of the party at the end of
the long Hotel veranda, where the guides are in attendance, fully equipped
with lamps and oil, Bengal lights, etc. When all are in readiness, a gong gives
the signal, an' the party crosses an old-fashioned garden to the

      CAVE,      which winds through a steep and picturesque ravine, and
                  about three hundred yards below the Hotel leads directly
      CAVE.      This magnificent arch of solid rock, 50 feet high and 70 feet
                  wide, is rendered wild and romantic by its drapery of ferns
                  and vines, and the tiny fall of crystal water that trickles
                  from the keystone and disappears in the leaf-strewn floor
                  of the Cave entrance. The descent is made by a rude flight
                  of stone at' ps. and the fine sweep of the rocky ceiling grad-
                  ually contracts until further progress is barred by
                  a narrow portal, heavily bolted and locked to keep out tres-
                  passers or too venturesome explorers. The guide stops to
                  unlock the gate. and a violent current of air is felt rushing
                  in or out (according to the season).
                  one turns instinctively for a final glimpse of the golden
                  light, which, veiled by spreading branches, filters in through
                  the grim arch. Once inside the prison-like gate, the lamps
                  are lighted, and the guide leads the way through
THE NAaBows.
                    Here the passage is nearly blocked by piles of loose
                  stone, stacked along the walls by the saltpeter miners to




clear the other avenues for their work. The pump logs
are still seen, and a few steps bring one to

The4e are rudely constructed, but still in a perfect state of
preservation, showing cleat ly the early method of leaching
the nitrous earth. An old I ump-frame stands at one side,
where superfluous coats and wraps are left until the return
of the party. After advancing a few paces, the guide sets
a Bengal light in a side crevice, and as it flames up, the
walls and ceiling seem to recede into thin air, leaving the
party an insignificant group in the center of a vast apart-
ment. This is

where the main Cave widens out into a great semi-circular
room. arched by a high and massive ceiling of solid rock.
At the right of the Rotunda, Audubon's avenue branches
off, and this, in turn, opens into Little Bat avenue, both of
which galleries are inhabited by thousands of bats during
their hibernation. The regular rout-ignoring these side
passages-follows the Main Cave, which, for some distance,
is designated as

on account of its ample proportions. As the party pro-
gresses, a rocky shelf on the left is pointed out, and above
is discovered a narrow fissure, which forms

    COaKSCaEW, a tortuous and difficult passage, leading by a sheer descent
                  directly into the river halls. Still further to the left a curi-
                  ous illustration of the action of water is given in
                  small apertures hollowed out of the rock as neatly as if by


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..... IIO-AIR1 1-1.T.

--TA7. TO GO1ll- AVE.1E..

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                  a chisel in the hands of a mason. Beyond these, and still
                  to the left, the gloomy walls, rising steep and rugged, have
                  been named
     CLIFFS,     from a fancied resemblance to bluffs along the Kentucky
                  River. The Cave now seems to widen out. and, as one grows
                  accustomed to the gloom, a series of rough stone piers are
                  seen, supporting a double line of the old log
                  still in an excellent state of preservation. At this point, the
                  flaring light from a blazing rag, held by the guide on the
                  end of his stick. reveals a second large chamber,
     CHUR1CH.     Here, facing a fine amphitheater, is a rude pulpit, hewn by
                  living water out of the solid rock, from which many a ser-
                  mon has been preached; the usage, it is said, having origi-
                  nated with the miners eighty years ago. Just beyond this
                  natural sanctuary are
      LERIFS,     where the main Cave again widens out, and is crossed at
                  right angles by another avenue on a higher level.
    PETER VATs    are now reached in the middle of a large apartment, which,
                  with its irregular formation, resembling a pit and gallery, is
                  known as
                  and from its sombre stage, tradition says that Edwin Booth
                  once delivered some of his most famous lines. At the right,
                  a wooden stairway leads to the level of the upper avenue,
                  which forms
GOTHIC AVENUE. Here the Main Cave is left forthe time being, for the explor,
                  ation of one of the most remarkable passages of this sub-




terranean country, where the finest stalactite formations of
the Cave are found. A niche very near the head of the stair-
case is pointed out as

where the bodies of a prehistoric woman and child are said
to have been found. A writer who visited the Cave in 1813
is quoted as describing in the minutest detail the woman's
body, and the clothing, trinkets, etc., found with it. There
is also the story of the remains of a giant having been dug
up by the miners, but accounts are conflicting concerning
these relies, though it is given as a well-authenticated fact
that many remains of a former race-such as sandals, cane
torches, and bits of rush matting have been found in the
Cave. Near this point is seen the first of the stalactite

beyond which Gothic avenue broadeas into a low ro im,
whose ceiling is hung with pointed clusters of this enrious
lime-water growth. As the avenue widens the ceiling sud-
denly becomes as smooth as if it had been plastered. The
name of

has been bestowed upon this room, as in the days when
candles were used for illumination, many visitors-who were
vandals at the same time-lefttheir autographs in smoke on
the creamy and perfectly-grained surface overhead. Reg-
ister Hall is filled with cairns-great piles of stone and
rock-numbering several hundred, which are also found in
all well-traveled avenues of the Cave, and frequently reach
to the ceiling. They have been erected by tourists, as me-
morials to famous men and women, cities, States, countries,
societies. and colleges, serving also the very useful purpose
of keeping the passages free from loose stones. Passing


                  which are curious water-molded niches in the wall, start-
                  lingly like the sepulchers from which they derive their
                  are reached.  Beyond these the floor of the Cave appears
                  to have been flooded by some volcanic eruption which has
                  given the name of
                  to this peculiar formation. A short distance further on, the
                  way is apparently barred by a giant stalactite reaching from
                  floor to ceiling, and appropriately named
   HERCULES.     A nearer approach discloses a narrow defile, through which
                  entrance is iiade into one of the most famous points in the


Upheld at one end by the pillars of Hercules, the roof is
supported on either side by two fine stalactite columns,

                  and at the further end stands
                  a union of several irregular but graceful stalactites lavishly
                  decorated with natural scroll-work. The same formation
                  incrusts the ceiling like a mass of ornate carving, and with
                  the glow of a Bengal light tinging with rose tones each col-
                  unin and frieze, the effect is indescribable. It is said that
                  before this natural altar nine couples have been married;
                  and Cave tradition tells the story of the pioneer subterranean
                  bride, who, having pledged her mother that she would " never
                  marry any man on the face of the earth," here fulfilled the
                  letter if not the spirit of her vow, by an underground wed-
                  ding. Beyond the Bridal Chamber the guide points out a
                  head of George Washington, outlined by Nature's pencil
                  upon the ceiling, and at one side a knotty growth,

Tn HoRxr's NxsT,
                   which looks dangerously life-like. The floor all about here
                   is seemingly a mass of cinders, which gives this region the
                   name of
                   or, the Blacksmith's Shop. A little beyond, the soft drip
                   of falling water is heard, and a dextrous turn of the guide's
                   lamp shows that the immeasurably slow process of stalactite
                   building is still going on. The water, trickling drop by
                   drop from a suspended point on the ceiling and falling upon
                   the floor, has formed
                  which is indeed an almost perfect representation of a human
                  skull, and a source to the guides of many a joke. The in-
                  variable query is, " And why is it a man's head  " and the
                  reply is also invariably, " Because its mouth is shut." Be-
                  yond this the floor opens into a deep crevice, in front of
                  which runs a smooth embankment known as
      WORES,     and a little further on is a magnificent cohlmu. showing
                  perfectly the line of jointure between the overhanging
                  stalactite and the stalagmite beneath. This is called
                  from its peculiar shape, and many distinguished people are
                  said to have sat in it. Just at the side of the Arm-Chair is
                  a clear spring of water, held in a neat little basin, and fed
                  drop by drop from a crevice in the ceiling. Stalactitic for-
                  mations are marked characteristics of Gothic avenue, and
                  near the end, the Cave is hung with the remains of a beau-
                  tiful stalactite fringe,
                  which, unfortunately, has been irreparably ruined by early
                  vandalism. It may once have served to entirely close this
                  avenue, but has been ruthlessly broken and destroyed so



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                  that only a part of it now remains. Just beyond it is another
                  curious mass of alabaster,
    HEADS,        which, though minus the trunks, are natural enough to war-
                  rant their name. Through the low passage at one side the
                  avenue seems to break off abruptly, and here a point of
                  juts out sharply over a black gulf. The guide leads his
                  party cautiously down the deep descent and through
                  a high but extremely narrow passage which opens into a
                  lower level of the Cave. The way here isalmost blocked by
   ING-TABLE,   a huge circular mass of stone which seems to have dropped
                  bodily from
                  curving in fine and graceful lines above it. To the right a
                  small gallery leads to
                  a beautiful basin of water about six feet wide and three feet
                  deep. Beyond it is
                  in old times called the Flint Pit. The main gallery from
                  Gatewood's Dining-Table leads to
                  and ends in one of the prettiest of the smaller domes,
                  whose sides are hung with stalactite draperies, which sparkle
                  and glisten with the waters of a small cascade. Annetta's
                  Dome forming the termination of these galleries, it is neces-
                  to return over the path through Gothic avenue, and again

                  Descending once more the wooden steps. a well-beaten track
                  lies through great heaps of
                  the refuse from the leaching-vats of the saltpeter miners.
                  Near here the guides point out the "IFat Girl," silhouetted
                  in black upon the ceiling, and the "I Hen and Chickens" on
                  the wall. Beyond the earth-heaps is a broad sweep of the
                  Cave, where the floor is quite level. and which was known
                  in former times as
                  From this the entrance is into a fine passageway several
                  hundred feet long, 60 feet wide. and 50 feet high, called
                  half way down which is found
                  a group of ponderous stones weighing many tons and stand-
                  ing on edge in the Cave floor. Further on at the left, a
                  beautifully fluted niche has been carved in the wall by the
                  clear water which trickles into a nicely rounded basin be-
                  neath. and bears the romantic name of
   LIE'S SPaIso.  The path now grows somewhat rougher, and leads to a deep
                  crevice behind a group of boulders, where a pause is made
                  in order to listen almost breathlessly for
                  In the oppressive silence, th