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Title: Rambles in the Mammoth Cave, during the Year 1844 - By a Visiter
Author: Bullitt, Alexander Clark
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Alexander Clark Bullitt


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1845, by
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Kentucky.



Page 11th, fifth line from the bottom; for _faltering_, read pattering.

Page 46th, eighth line from the top--"They are well furnished, and,
without question, _would with_ good and comfortable accommodations,
pure air, and uniform temperature, cure the pulmonary consumption.
_The_ invalids in the Cave ought to be cured, &c.,"


They are well furnished, and, without question, _if_ good and
comfortable accommodations, pure air, and uniform temperature, _could_
cure the pulmonary consumption, _the_ invalids in the Cave ought to be

Page 101, last line: read, "It has no brother: it _is like_ no brother."


To meet the calls so frequently made upon as by intelligent visitors
to our City, for some work descriptive of the Mammoth Cave, we are, at
length, enabled to present the public a succinct, but instructive
narrative of a visit to this "Wonder of Wonders," from the pen of a
gentleman, who, without professing to have explored ALL that is
curious or beautiful or sublime in its vast recesses, has yet seen
every thing that has been seen by others, and has described enough to
quicken and enlighten the curiosity of those who have never visited

Aware of the embarrassment which most persons experience who design
visiting the Cave, owing to the absence of any printed itinerary of
the various routes leading to it, we have supplied, in the present
volume, this desideratum, from information received from reliable
persons residing on the different roads here enumerated. The road from
Louisville to the Cave, and thence to Nashville, is graded the entire
distance, and the greater part of it M'Adamized. From Louisville to
the mouth of Salt river, twenty miles, the country is level, with a
rich alluvial soil, probably at some former period the bed of a lake.
A few miles below the former place and extending to the latter, a
chain of elevated hills is seen to the South-East, affording beautiful
and picturesque situations for country seats, and strangely overlooked
by the rich and tasteful. The river is crossed by a ferry, and the
traveler is put down at a comfortable inn in the village of West
Point. Two miles from the mouth of Salt river, begins the ascent of
Muldrow's Hill. The road is excellent, and having elevated hills on
either side, is highly romantic to its summit, five miles. From the
top of this hill to Elizabethtown, the country is well settled, though
the improvements are generally indifferent--the soil thin, but well
adapted to small-grain, and oak the prevailing growth. Elizabethtown,
twenty-five miles from the mouth of Salt river, is quite a pretty and
flourishing village, built chiefly of brick, with several churches and
three large inns. From this place to Nolin creek, the distance is ten
miles. Here there is a small town, containing some ten or twelve log
houses, a large saw and grist mill, and a comfortable and very neat
inn, kept by Mr. Mosher. Immediately after crossing this creek, the
traveler enters "Yankee Street," as the inhabitants style this section
of the road. For a distance of ten or twelve miles from Nolin toward
Bacon creek, the land belongs, or did belong to the former Postmaster
General, Gideon Granger, and on either side of the road, to the extent
of Mr. G.'s possessions, are settlements made by emigrants from New
York and the New England States. From Bacon creek to Munfordsville,
eight miles, the country is pleasantly undulating, and here, indeed
the whole route from Elizabethtown to the Cave, passes through what
was until recently a Prairie, or, in the language of the country,
"Barrens," and renders it highly interesting, especially to the
botanist, from the multitude and variety of flowers with which it
abounds during the Spring and Autumn months. Munfordsville, and
Woodsonville directly opposite, are situated on Green river, on high
and broken ground. They are small places, in each of which, however,
are comfortable inns. Boats laden with tobacco and other produce,
descend from this point and from a considerable distance above, to New
Orleans. About two and a half miles beyond Munfordsville, the new
State road to the Cave, (virtually made by Dr. Croghan, at a great
expense,) leaves the Turnpike, and joins it again at the Dripping
Springs, eight miles below, on the route to Nashville. This road, in
going from Louisville to Nashville, is not only the shortest by three
and a half miles, but to the Cave it is from ten to twelve miles
shorter than the one taken by visiters previous to its construction.
It therefore lessens the inconvenience, delay and consequent expense
to which travelers were formerly subjected. The road itself is an
excellent one, the country through which it passes highly picturesque,
and Dr. Croghan has entitled himself to the gratitude of the traveling
community by his liberality and enterprise in constructing it.

Persons visiting the Cave by Steamer, (a boat leaves Louisville for
Bowling-Green every week) will find much to interest them in the
admirable locks and dams, rendering the navigation of Green river safe
and good at all seasons for boats of a large class. Passengers can
obtain conveyances at all times and at moderate rates, from
Bowling-Green, by the Dripping Spring, to the Cave, distant twenty-two
miles. Fifteen miles of this road is M'Adamized, the remainder is
graded and not inferior to the finished portion. The last eight miles
from the Dripping Spring to the Cave, cannot fail to excite the
admiration of every one who delights in beholding wild and beautiful
scenery. A visit to the Cedar Springs on this route, is alone worth a
journey of many miles. Passengers on the upper turnpike, from
Bardstown to Nashville, can, on reaching Glasgow, at all times procure
conveyances to the Cave, either by Bell's or by Prewett's Knob.

Arrived at the Cave, the visitor alights at a spacious hotel, the
general arrangements, attendance and _cuisine_ of which, are adapted
to the most fastidious taste. He feels that as far as the "creature
comforts" are necessary to enjoyment, the prospect is full of promise;
nor will he be disappointed. And now, this first and most important
preliminary to a traveler settled to his perfect content, he may
remain for weeks and experience daily gratification, "_Stephen_ his
guide," in wandering through some of its two hundred and twenty-six
avenues--in gazing, until he is oppressed with the feeling of their
magnificence, at some of its forty-seven domes,--in listening,
until their drowsy murmurs pain the sense, to some of its many
water-falls,--or haply intent upon discovery, he hails some new vista,
or fretted roof, or secret river, or unsounded lake, or crystal
fountain, with as much rapture as Balboa, from "that peak in Darien,"
gazed on the Pacific; he is assured that he "has a poet," and an
historian too. Stephen has linked his name to dome, or avenue, or
river, and it is already immortal--in the Cave.

Independent of the attractions to be found in the Cave, there is much
above ground to gratify the different tastes of visiters. There is a
capacious ball-room, ninety feet by thirty, with a fine band of
music,--a ten-pin alley,--romantic walks and carriage-drives in all
directions, rendered easy of access by the fine road recently
finished. The many rare and beautiful flowers in the immediate
vicinity of the Cave, invite to exercise, and bouquets as exquisite as
were ever culled in garden or green-house, may be obtained even as
late as August. The fine sport the neighborhood affords to the hunter
and the angler--Green river, just at hand, offers such "store of
fish," as father Walton or his son and disciple Cotton, were they
alive again, would love to meditate and angle in!--and the woods!
Capt. Scott or Christopher North himself, might grow weary of the
sight of game, winged or quadruped.


 1. Accidents of no kind have ever occurred in the Mammoth Cave.

 2. Visiters, going in or coming out of the Cave, are not liable to
contract colds; on the contrary, colds are commonly relieved by a
visit in the Cave.

 3. No impure air exists in any part of the Cave.

 4. Reptiles, of no description, have ever been seen in the Cave; on
the contrary, they, as well as quadrupeds, avoid it.

 5. Combustion is perfect in all parts of the Cave.

 6. Decomposition and consequent putrefaction are unobservable in all
parts of the Cave.

 7. The water of the Cave is of the purest kind; and, besides fresh
water, there are one or two sulphur springs.

 8. There are two hundred and twenty-six Avenues in the Cave;
forty-seven Domes; eight Cataracts, and twenty-three Pits.

 9. The temperature of the Cave is 59° Fahrenheit, and remains so,
uniformly, winter and Summer.

10. No sound, not even the loudest peal of thunder, is heard one
quarter of a mile in the Cave.

       *       *       *       *       *

The author of "Rambles in the Mammoth Cave," has written a scientific
account of the Cave, embracing its Geology, Mineralogy, etc., which we
could not, in time, insert in this publication.



Medley's                 10 miles.
Mouth Salt River         10
Trueman's                 8
Haycraft's                7
Elizabethtown             9
Nolin                     9
Lucas                    11
Munfordsville            10
Mammoth Cave             14-1/2
                         88-1/2 miles.


Harrodsburgh             20 miles.
Perryville               10
Frosts                   12
Young                     4
Lebanon                   7
New Market               12
Barbee                    6
Somerville                3
Carters                   5
Moss                      5
Mitchell                 12
Curls                     7
Greens                   10
Dickeys                   8
Mammoth Cave              9
                        130 miles.


Dickeys                  18 miles.


Gees                      9 miles.
Tyree Springs            13
Buntons                  12
Franklin                 10
Bowling Green            20
Pattersons               12
Dripping Springs          3
Mammoth Cave              8
                         87 miles.


New Haven                15 miles.
McDougals                10
McAchran (Cobb's stand)  12
Bear Wallow              20
Dickeys (Prewett's Knob)  7
Mammoth Cave              9
                         73 miles.


McAchran (Cobb's stand)  37 miles.
Munfordsville            12
Mammoth Cave             14-1/2
                         63-1/2 miles.


Bells                    18 miles.



Mammoth Cave--Where Situated--Green River--Improved Navigation--Range
of Highlands--Beautiful Woodlands--Hotel--Romantic Dell--Mouth of the
Cave--Coldness of the Air--Lamps Lighted--Bones of a Giant--Violence
of the Wind--Lamps Extinguished--Temperature of the Cave--Lamps
Relighted--First Hopper--Grand Vestibule--Glowing Description--Audubon
Avenue--Little Bat Room--Pit two hundred and eighty feet deep--Main
Cave--Kentucky Cliffs--The Church Second Hopper--Extent of the
Saltpetre Manufacture in 1814.


Gothic Gallery--Gothic Avenue--Good Road--Mummies--Interesting
Account of Them--Gothic Avenue, once called Haunted Chamber--Why so
named--Adventure of a Miner in former days.


Stalagmite Pillars--The Bell--Vulcan's Furnace--Register Rooms--
Stalagmite Hall or Gothic Chapel--Devil's Arm-Chair--Elephant's
Head--Lover's Leap--Napoleon's Dome--Salts Cave--Annetti's Dome.


The Ball-Room--Willie's Spring--Wandering Willie--Ox-Stalls--Giant's
Coffin--Acute-Angle or Great Bend--Range of Cabins--Curative Properties
of the Cave Air long known.


Star Chamber--Salts Room--Indian Houses--Cross Rooms--Black Chambers--A
Dinner Party--Humble Chute--Solitary Cave--Fairy Grotto--Chief City or
Temple--Lee's Description--Return to the Hotel.


Arrival of a large Party--Second Visit--Lamps Extinguished--Laughable
Confusion--Wooden Bowl--Deserted Chambers--Richardson's
Spring--Side-Saddle Fit--The Labyrinth--Louisa's Dome--Gorin's
Dome--Bottomless Fit--Separation of our Party.


Pensico Avenue--Cheat Crossings--Pine Apple Bush--Angelica's Grotto
Winding Way--Fat Friend in Trouble--Relief Hall--Bacon Chamber
Bandits Hall.


Mammoth Dome--First Discoverers--Little Dave--Tale of a Lamp--Return.


Third Visit--River Hall--Dead Sea--River Styx--Lethe--Echo
River--Purgatory--Eyeless Fish--Supposed Level of the Rivers--Sources
and Outlet Unknown.


Pass of El Ghor--Silliman's Avenue--Wellington's Gallery--Sulphur
Spring--Mary's Vineyard--Holy Sepulchre--Commencement of Cleveland
Avenue--By whom Discovered--Beautiful Formations--Snow-ball
Room--Rocky Mountains--Croghan's Hall--Serena's Arbor--Dining
Table--Dinner Party and Toast--Hoax of the Guide--Homeward
Bound Passage--Conclusion.


Mammoth Cave--Where Situated--Green River--Improved Navigation--Range of
Highlands--Beautiful Woodlands--Hotel--Romantic Dell--Mouth of the
Cave--Coldness of the Air--Lamps Lighted--Bones of a Giant--Violence
of the Wind--Lamps Extinguished--Temperature of the Cave--Lamps
Lighted--First Hoppers--Grand Vestibule--Glowing Description--Audubon
Avenue--Little Bat Room--Pit Two-Hundred and Eighty Feet Deep--Main
Cave--Kentucky Cliffs--The Church--Second Hoppers--Extent of the
Saltpetre Manufacture in 1814.

The Mammoth Cave is situated in the County of Edmondson and State of
Kentucky, equidistant from the cities of Louisville and Nashville,
(about ninety miles from each,) and immediately upon the nearest road
between those two places. Green River is within half a mile of the
Cave, and since the improvements in its navigation, by the
construction of locks and dams, steam-boats can, at all seasons,
ascend to Bowling Green, distant but twenty-two miles, and, for the
greater part of the year, to the Cave itself.

In going to the Cave from Munfordsville, you will observe a lofty
range of barren highlands to the North, which approaches nearer and
nearer the Cave as you advance, until it reaches to within a mile of
it. This range of highlands or cliffs, composed of calcareous rock,
pursuing its rectilinear course, is seen the greater part of the way
as you proceed on towards Bowling Green; and, at last, looses itself
in the counties below. Under this extensive range of cliffs it is
conjectured that the great subterranean territory mainly extends

For a distance of two miles from the Cave, as you approach it from the
South-East, the country is level. It was, until recently, a prairie,
on which, however, the oak, chestnut and hickory are now growing; and
having no underbrush, its smooth, verdant openings present, here and
there, no unapt resemblance to the parks of the English nobility.

Emerging from these beautiful woodlands, you suddenly have a view of
the hotel and adjacent grounds, which is truly lovely and picturesque.
The hotel is a large edifice, two hundred feet long by forty-five
wide, with piazzas, sixteen feet wide, extending the whole length of
the building, both above and below, well furnished, and kept in a
style, by Mr. Miller, that cannot fail to please the most fastidious

The Cave is about two-hundred yards from the hotel, and you proceed to
it down a lovely and romantic dell, rendered umbrageous by a forest of
trees and grape vines; and passing by the ruins of saltpetre furnaces
and large mounds of ashes, you turn abruptly to the right and behold
the mouth of the great cavern and as suddenly feel the coldness of its

It is an appalling spectacle,--how dark, how dismal, how dreary.
Descending some thirty feet down rather rude steps of stone, you are
fairly under the arch of this "nether world"--before you, in looking
outwards, is seen a small stream of water falling from the face of the
crowning rock, with a wild faltering sound, upon the ruins below, and
disappearing in a deep pit,--behind you, all is gloom and darkness!

Let us now follow the guide--who, placing on his back a canteen of
oil, lights the lamps, and giving one to each person, we commence our
subterranean journey; having determined to confine ourselves, for this
day, to an examination of _some_ of the avenues on this side of the
rivers, and to resume, on a future occasion, our visit to the fairy
scenes beyond. I emphasize the word _some_ of the avenues, because no
visitor has ever yet seen one in twenty; and, although I shall attempt
to describe only a few of them, and in so doing will endeavor to
represent things as I saw them, and as they impressed me, I am not the
less apprehensive that my descriptions will appear as unbounded
exaggerations, so wonderfully vast is the Cave, so singular its
formations, and so unique its characteristics.

At the place where our lamps were lighted, are to be seen the wooden
pipes which conducted the water, as it fell from the ceiling, to the
vats or saltpetre hoppers; and near this spot too, are interred the
bones of a _giant_, of such vast size is the skeleton, at least of
such portions of it as remain. With regard to this giant, or more
properly skeleton, it may be well to state, that it was found by the
saltpetre workers far within the Cave years ago, and was buried by
their employer where it now lies, to quiet their superstitious fears,
not however before it was bereft of its head by some fearless

Proceeding onward about one-hundred feet, we reached a door, set in a
rough stone wall, stretched across and completely blocking up the
Cave; which was no sooner opened, than our lamps were extinguished by
the violence of the wind rushing outwards. An accurate estimate of the
external temperature, may at any time, be made, by noting the force of
the wind as it blows inward or outward. When it is very warm without,
the wind blows outwards with violence; but when cold, it blows inwards
with proportionate force. The temperature of the Cave, (winter and
summer,) is invariably the same--59° Fahrenheit; and its atmosphere is
perfectly uniform, dry, and of most extraordinary salubrity.

Our lamps being relighted, we soon reached a narrow passage faced on
the left side by a wall, built by the miners to confine the loose
stone thrown up in the course of their operations, when gradually
descending a short distance, we entered the great vestibule or
ante-chamber of the Cave. What do we now see? Midnight!--the
blackness of darkness!--Nothing! Where is the wall we were lately
elbowing out of the way? It has vanished!--It is lost! We are walled
in by darkness, and darkness canopies us above. Look again;--Swing
your torches aloft! Aye, now you can see it; far up, a hundred feet
above your head, a grey ceiling rolling dimly away like a cloud, and
heavy buttresses, bending under the weight, curling and toppling over
their base, begin to project their enormous masses from the shadowy
wall. How vast! How solemn! How awful! The little bells of the brain
are ringing in your ears; you hear nothing else--not even a sigh of
air--not even the echo of a drop of water falling from the roof. The
guide triumphs in your look of amazement and awe; he falls to work on
certain old wooden ruins, to you, yet invisible, and builds a brace or
two of fires, by the aid of which you begin to have a better
conception of the scene around you. You are in the vestibule or
ante-chamber, to which the spacious entrance of the Cave, and the
narrow passage that succeeds it, should be considered the mere
gate-way and covered approach. It is a basilica of an oval
figure--two-hundred feet in length by one-hundred and fifty wide, with
a roof which is as flat and level as if finished by the trowel of the
plasterer, of fifty or sixty or even more feet in height. Two
passages, each a hundred feet in width, open into it at its opposite
extremities, but at right angles to each other; and as they preserve a
straight course for five or six-hundred feet, with the same flat roof
common to each, the appearance to the eye, is that of a vast hall in
the shape of the letter L expanded at the angle, both branches being
five-hundred feet long by one-hundred wide. The passage to the right
hand is the "Great Bat Room;" (Audubon Avenue.) That in the front, the
beginning of the Grand Gallery, or the Main Cavern itself. The whole
of this prodigious space is covered by a single rock, in which the eye
can detect no break or interruption, save at its borders, where is a
broad, sweeping cornice, traced in horizontal panel-work, exceedingly
noble and regular; and not a single pier or pillar of any kind
contributes to support it. It needs no support. It is like the arched
and ponderous roof of the poet's mausoleum:

    "By its own weight made stedfast and immoveable."

The floor is very irregularly broken, consisting of vast heaps of the
nitrous earth, and of the ruins of the hoppers or vats, composed of
heavy planking, in which the miners were accustomed to leach it. The
hall was, in fact, one of their chief factory rooms. Before their day,
it was a cemetery; and here they disinterred many a mouldering
skeleton, belonging it seems, to that gigantic eight or nine feet race
of men of past days, whose jaw-bones so many vivacious persons have
clapped over their own, like horse-collars, without laying by a single
one to convince the soul of scepticism.

Such is the vestibule of the Mammoth Cave,--a hall which hundreds of
visitors have passed through without being conscious of its existence.
The path, leading into the Grand Gallery, hugs the wall on the left
hand; and is, besides, in a hollow, flanked on the right hand by lofty
mounds of earth, which the visitor, if he looks at them at all, which
he will scarcely do, at so early a period after entering, will readily
suppose to be the opposite walls. Those who enter the Great Bat Room,
(Audubon Avenue,) into which flying visitors are seldom conducted,
will indeed have some faint suspicion, for a moment, that they are
passing through infinite space; but the walls of the Cave being so
dark as to reflect not one single ray of light from the dim torches,
and a greater number of them being necessary to disperse the gloom
than are usually employed, they will still remain in ignorance of the
grandeur around them.

Such is the vestibule of the Mammoth Cave, as described by the
ingenious author of "Calavar," "Peter Pilgrim," &c.

From the vestibule we entered Audubon Avenue, which is more than a
mile long, fifty or sixty feet wide and as many high. The roof or
ceiling exhibits, as you walk along, the appearance of floating
clouds--and such is observable in many other parts of the Cave. Near
the termination of this avenue, a natural well, twenty-five feet deep,
and containing the purest water, has been recently discovered; it is
surrounded by stalagmite columns, extending from the floor to the
roof, upon the incrustations of which, when lights are suspended, the
reflection from the water below and the various objects above and
around, gives to the whole scene an appearance equally rare and
picturesque. This spot, however, being difficult of access, is but
seldom visited.

The Little Bat Room Cave--a branch of Audubon Avenue,--is on the left
as you advance, and not more than three-hundred yards from the great
vestibule. It is but little more than a quarter of a mile in length,
and is remarkable for its pit of two-hundred and eighty feet in depth;
and as being the hibernal resort of bats. Tens of thousands of them
are seen hanging from the walls, in apparently a torpid state, during
the winter, but no sooner does the spring open, than they disappear.

Returning from the Little Bat Room and Audubon Avenue, we pass again
through the vestibule, and enter the Main Cave or Grand Gallery. This
is a vast tunnel extending for miles, averaging throughout, fifty feet
in width by as many in height It is truly a noble subterranean avenue;
the largest of which man has any knowledge, and replete with interest,
from its varied characteristics and majestic grandeur.

Proceeding down the main Cave about a quarter of a mile, we came to
the Kentucky Cliffs, so called from the fancied resemblance to the
cliffs on the Kentucky River, and descending gradually about twenty
feet entered the church, when our guide was discovered in the _pulpit_
fifteen feet above us, having reached there by a gallery which leads
from the cliffs. The ceiling here is sixty three feet high, and the
church itself, including the recess, cannot be less than one hundred
feet in diameter. Eight or ten feet above and immediately behind the
pulpit, is the organ loft, which is sufficiently capacious for an.
organ and choir of the largest size. There would appear to be
something like design in all this;--here is a church large enough to
accomodate thousands, a solid projection of the wall of the Cave to
serve as a pulpit, and a few feet back a place for an organ and choir.
In this great temple of nature, religious service has been frequently
held, and it requires but a slight effort on the part of a speaker, to
make himself distinctly heard by the largest congregation.

Sometimes the guides climb up the high and ragged sides, and suspend
lamps in the crevices and on the projections of the rock, thus
lighting up a scene of wild grandeur and sublimity.

Concerts too have been held here, and the melody of song has been
heard, such as would delight the ear of a Catalini or a Malibran.

Leaving the church you will observe, on ascending, a large embankment
of lixiviated earth thrown out by the miners more than thirty years
ago, the print of wagon wheels and the tracks of oxen, as distinctly
defined as though they were made but yesterday; and continuing on for
a short distance, you arrive at the Second Hoppers. Here are seen the
ruins of the old nitre works, leaching vats, pump frames and two lines
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.

The quantity of nitrous earth contained in the Cave is "sufficient to
supply the whole population of the globe with saltpetre."

"The dirt gives from three to five pounds of nitrate of lime to the
bushel, requiring a large proportion of fixed alkali to produce the
required crystalization, and when left in the Cave become
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 saltpetre from the East Indies in
competition with the American, and drove that of the produce of our
country 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 dollars."

"The price of the article was so high, and the profits of the
manufacturer so great, as to set half the western 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 ran for profit." Every hole, remarked an old miner, the size of
a man's body, has been penetrated for miles around the Mammoth Cave,
but although we found "_petre earth_," we never could find a cave
worth having.


Gothic Gallery--Gothic Avenue--Good Road--Mummies--Interesting Account
of Them--Gothic Avenue once called Haunted Chamber--Why so Named--
Adventure of a Miner in Former Days.

In looking from the ruins of the nitre works, to the left and some
thirty feet above, you will see a large cave, connected with which is
a narrow gallery sweeping across the Main Cave and losing itself in a
cave, which is seen above to your right This latter cave is the Gothic
Avenue, which no doubt was at one time connected with the cave
opposite and on the same level, forming a complete bridge over the
main avenue, but afterwards broken down and separated by some great

The cave on the left, which is filled with sand, has been penetrated
but a short distance; still from its great size at its entrance, it is
more than probable, that, were all obstructions removed, it might be
found to extend for miles.

On Stone by T. Campbell
Bauer & Teschemacher's Lith.]

While examining the old saltpetre works, the guide left us without our
being aware of it, but casting our eyes around we perceived him
standing some forty feet above, on the projection of a huge rock, or
tower, which commands a view of the grand gallery to a great extent
both up and down.

Leaving the Main Cave and ascending a flight of stairs twenty or
thirty feet, we entered the Gothic Avenue, so named from the Gothic
appearance of some of its compartments. This avenue is about forty
feet wide, fifteen feet high and two miles long. The ceiling looks in
many places as smooth and white as though it had been under the trowel
of the most skilful plasterer. A good road has been made throughout
this cave, and such is the temperature and purity of its atmosphere,
that every visitor must experience their salutary influences.

In a recess on the left hand elevated a few feet above the floor and
about fifty feet from the head of the stairs leading up from the Main
Avenue, two mummies long since taken away, were to be seen in 1813.
They were in good preservation; one was a female with her extensive
wardrobe placed before her. The removal of those mummies from the
place in which they were found can be viewed as little less than
sacrilege. There they had been, perhaps for centuries, and there they
ought to have been left. What has become of them I know not. One of
them, it is said, was lost in the burning of the Cincinnati museum.
The wardrobe of the female was given to a Mr. Ward, of Massachusetts,
who I believe presented it to the British Museum.

Two of the miners found a mummy in Audubon Avenue, in 1814. With a
view to conceal it for a time, they placed large stones over it, and
marked the walls about the spot so that they might find it at some
future period; this however, they were never able to effect. In 1840,
the present hotel keeper Mr. Miller, learning the above facts, went in
search of the place designated, taking with him very many lights, and
found the marks on the walls, and near to them the mummy. It was,
however, so much injured and broken to pieces by the heavy weights
which had been placed upon it, as to be of little interest or value. I
have no doubt, that if proper efforts were made, mummies and other
objects of curiosity might be found, which would tend to throw light
on the early history of the first inhabitants of this continent.

Believing, that whatever may relate to these mummies cannot fail to
interest, I will extract from the recently published narrative of a
highly scientific gentleman of New York, himself one of the early
visitors to the Cave.

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

"In the digging of saltpetre earth, in the short cave, a flat rock was
met with by the workmen, a little below the surface of the earth in
the Cave; this stone was raised, and was about four feet wide and as
many long; beneath it was a square excavation about three feet deep
and as many in length and width. In this small nether subterranean
chamber, sat in solemn silence one of the human species, a female with
her wardrobe and ornaments placed at her side. The body was in a state
of perfect preservation, and sitting erect The arms were folded up and
the hands were laid across the bosom; around the two wrists was wound
a small cord, designed probably, to keep them in the posture in which
they were first placed; around the body and next thereto, was wrapped
two deer-skins. These skins appear to have been dressed in some mode
different from what is now practised by any people, of whom I have any
knowledge. The hair of the skins was cut off very near the surface.
The skins were ornamented with the imprints of vines and leaves, which
were sketched with a substance perfectly white. Outside of these two
skins was a large square sheet, which was either wove or knit. This
fabric was the inner bark of a tree, which I judge from appearances to
be that of the linn tree. In its texture and appearance, it resembled
the South Sea Island cloth or matting; this sheet enveloped the whole
body and the head. The hair on the head was cut off within an eighth
of an inch of the skin, except near the neck, where it was an inch
long. The color of the hair was a dark red; the teeth were white and
perfect. I discovered no blemish upon the body, except a wound between
two ribs near the back-bone; one of the eyes had also been injured.
The finger and toe nails were perfect and quite long. The features
were regular. I measured the length of one of the bones of the arm
with a string, from the elbow to the wrist joint, and they equalled my
own in length, viz: ten and a half inches. From the examination of the
whole frame, I judged the figure to be that of a very tall female, say
five feet ten inches in height. The body, at the time it was first
discovered, weighed but fourteen pounds, and was perfectly dry; on
exposure to the atmosphere, it gained in weight by absorbing dampness
four pounds. Many persons have expressed surprise that a human body of
great size should weigh so little, as many human skeletons of nothing
but bone, exceed this weight. Recently some experiments have been made
in Paris, which have demonstrated the fact of the human body being
reduced to ten pounds, by being exposed to a heated atmosphere for a
long period of time. The color of the skin was dark, not black; the
flesh was hard and dry upon the bones. At the side of the body lay a
pair of moccasins, a knapsack and an indispensable or reticule. I will
describe these in the order in which I have named them. The moccasins
were made of wove or knit bark, like the wrapper I have described.
Around the top there was a border to add strength and perhaps as an
ornament. These were of middling size, denoting feet of small size.
The shape of the moccasins differs but little from the deer-skin
moccasins worn by the Northern Indians. The knapsack was of wove or
knit bark, with a deep, strong border around the top, and was about
the size of knapsacks used by soldiers. The workmanship of it was
neat, and such as would do credit as a fabric, to a manufacturer of
the present day. The reticule was also made of knit or wove bark. The
shape was much like a horseman's valise, opening its whole length on
the top. On the side of the opening and a few inches from it, were two
rows of hoops, one row on each side. Two cords were fastened to one
end of the reticule at the top, which passed through the loop on one
side and then on the other side, the whole length, by which it was
laced up and secured. The edges of the top of the reticule were
strengthened with deep fancy borders. The articles contained in the
knapsack and reticule were quite numerous, and are as follows: one
head cap, made of wove or knit bark, without any border, and of the
shape of the plainest night cap; seven head-dresses made of the quills
of large birds, and put together somewhat in the same way that feather
fans are made, except that the pipes of the quills are not drawn to a
point, but are spread out in straight lines with the top. This was
done by perforating the pipe of the quill in two places and running
two cords through these holes, and then winding around the quills and
the cord, fine thread, to fasten each quill in the place designed for
it. These cords extended some length beyond the quills on each side,
so that on placing the feathers erect on the head, the cords could be
tied together at the back of the head. This would enable the wearer to
present a beautiful display of feathers standing erect and extending a
distance above the head, and entirely surrounding it. These were most
splendid head dresses, and would be a magnificent ornament to the head
of a female at the present day,--several hundred strings of beads;
these consisted of very hard brown seed smaller than hemp seed, in
each of which a small hole had been made, and through this hole a
small three corded thread, similar in appearance and texture to seine
twine; these were tied up in bunches, as a merchant ties up coral
beads when he exposes them for sale. The red hoofs of fawns, on a
string supposed to be worn around the neck as a necklace. These hoofs
were about twenty in number, and may have been emblematic of
Innocence; the claw of an eagle, with a hole made in it, through which
a cord was passed, so that it could be worn pendent from the neck; the
jaw of a bear designed to be worn in the same manner as the eagle's
claw, and supplied with a cord to suspend it around the neck; two
rattlesnake-skins, one of these had fourteen rattles upon it, these
were neatly folded up; some vegetable colors done up in leaves; a
small bunch of deer sinews, resembling cat-gut in appearance; several
bunches of thread and twine, two and three threaded, some of which
were nearly white; seven needles, some of these were of horn and some
of bone, they were smooth and appeared to have been much used. These
needles had each a knob or whirl on the top, and at the other end were
brought to a point like a large sail needle. They had no eyelets to
receive a thread. The top of one of these needles was handsomely
scalloped; a hand-piece made of deer-skin, with a hole through it for
the thumb, and designed probably to protect the hand in the use of the
needle, the same as thimbles are now used; two whistles about eight
inches long made of cane, with a joint about one third the length;
over the joint is an opening extending to each side of the tube of the
whistle, these openings were about three-fourths of an inch long and a
quarter of an inch wide, and had each a flat reed placed in the
opening. These whistles were tied together with a cord wound around

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

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

  "Ye mouldering relics of a race departed,
  Your names have perished; not a trace remains."

The Gothic Avenue was once called the Haunted Chamber, and owed its
name to an adventure that befell one of the miners in former days,
which is thus related by the author of "Calavar."

In the Lower Branch is a room called the Salts Room, which produces
considerable quantities of the sulphate of magnesia, or of soda, we
forget which--a mineral that the proprietor of the Cave did not fail
to turn to account. The miner in question was a new and raw hand--of
course neither very well acquainted with the Cave itself, nor with the
approved modes of averting or repairing accidents, to which, from the
nature of their occupation, the miners were greatly exposed. Having
been sent, one day, in charge of an older workman, to the Salts Room
to dig a few sacks of the salt, and finding that the path to this
sequestered nook was perfectly plain; and that, from the Haunted
Chambers being a single, continuous passage without branches, it was
impossible to wander from it, our hero disdained on his second visit,
to seek or accept assistance, and trudged off to his work alone. The
circumstance being common enough he was speedily forgotten by his
brother miners; and it was not until several hours after, when they
all left off their toil for the more agreeable duty of eating their
dinner, that his absence was remarked, and his heroical resolution to
make his way alone to the Salts Room remembered. As it was apparent,
from the time he had been gone, that some accident must have happened
to him, half a dozen men, most of them negroes, stripped half naked,
their usual working costume, were sent to hunt him up, a task supposed
to be of no great difficulty, unless he had fallen into a pit. In the
meanwhile, the poor miner, it seems, had succeeded in reaching the
Salts Room, filling his sack, and retracing his steps half way back to
the Grand Gallery; when finding the distance greater than he thought
it ought to be, the conceit entered his unlucky brain that he _might_
perhaps be going wrong. No sooner had the suspicion struck him, than
he fell into a violent terror, dropped his sack, ran backwards, then
returned, then ran back again--each time more frightened and
bewildered than before; until at last he ended his adventure by
tumbling over a stone and extinguishing his lamp. Thus left in the
dark, not knowing where to turn, frightened out of his wits besides,
he fell to remembering his sins--always remembered by those who are
lost in the Cave--and praying with all his might for succor. But hours
passed away, and assistance came not; the poor fellow's frenzy
increased; he felt himself a doomed man; he thought his terrible
situation was a judgment imposed on him for his wickedness; nay, he
even believed, at last, that he was no longer an inhabitant of the
earth--that he had been translated, even in the body, to the place of
torment--in other words, that he was in hell itself, the prey of the
devils, who would presently be let loose upon him. It was at this
moment the miners in search of him made their appearance; they lighted
upon his sack, lying where he had thrown it, and set up a great shout,
which was the first intimation he had of their approach. He started
up, and seeing them in the distance, the half naked negroes in
advance, all swinging their torches aloft, he, not doubting they were
those identical devils whose appearance he had been expecting, took to
his heels, yelling lustily for mercy; nor did he stop, notwithstanding
the calls of his amazed friends, until he had fallen a second time
over the rocks, where he lay on his face, roaring for pity, until, by
dint of much pulling and shaking, he was convinced that he was still
in the world and the Mammoth Cave. Such is the story of the Haunted
Chambers, the name having been given to commemorate the incident.


Stalagmite Pillars--The Bell--Vulcan's Furnace--Register Rooms--
Stalagmite Hall or Gothic Chapel--Devil's Arm-Chair--Elephant's
Head--Lover's Leap--Napoleon's Dome--Salts Cave--Annetti's Dome.

Resuming our explorations in this most interesting avenue, we soon
came in sight of stalagmite pillars, reaching from the floor to the
ceiling, once perhaps white and translucent, but now black and
begrimed with smoke. At this point we were startled by the hollow
tread of our feet, caused by the proximity of another large avenue
underneath, which the guide assured us he had often visited. In this
neighborhood too, there are a number of Stalactites, one of which was
called the Bell, which on being struck, sounded like the deep bell of
a cathedral; but it now no longer tolls, having been broken in twain
by a visiter from Philadelphia some years ago. Further on our way, we
passed Louisa's Bower and Vulcan's Furnace, where there is a heap, not
unlike cinders in appearance, and some dark colored water, in which I
suppose the great forger used to slake his iron and perhaps his bolts.
Next in order and not very distant are the new and old Register Rooms.
Here on the ceiling which is as smooth and white as if it had been
finished off by the plasterer, thousands of names have been traced by
the smoke of a candle--names which can create no pleasing associations
or recollections; names unknown to fame, and which might excite
disgust, when read for the first time on the ceiling which they have

On Stone by T. Campbell
Bauer & Teschemacher's Lith.]

Soon after leaving the old Register Room, we were halted by our guide,
who took from us all the lamps excepting one. Having made certain
arrangements, he cried aloud, "Come on!" which we did, and in a few
moments entered an apartment of surprising grandeur and magnificence.
This apartment or hall is elliptical in shape and eighty feet long by
fifty wide. Stalagmite columns, of vast size nearly block up the two
ends; and two rows of pillars of smaller dimensions, reaching from
floor to ceiling and equidistant from the wall on either side, extend
its entire length. Against the pillars, and in many places from the
ceiling, our lamps were hanging, and, lighting up the whole space,
exhibited to our enraptured sight a scene surpassingly grand, and well
calculated to inspire feelings of solemnity and awe. This is the
Stalagmite Hall, or as some call it, the Gothic Chapel, which no one
can see under such circumstances as did our party, without being
forcibly reminded of the old, very old cathedrals of Europe.
Continuing our walk we came to the Devil's Arm-Chair. This is a large
Stalagmite column, in the centre of which is formed a capacious seat.
Like most other visiters we seated ourselves in the chair of his
Satanic Majesty, and drank sulphur water dipped up from a small basin
of rock, near the foot of the chair. Further on we passed a number of
Stalactites and Stalagmites, Napoleon's Breast-Work, (behind which we
found ashes and burnt cane,) the Elephant's Head, the Curtain, and
arrived at last at the Lover's Leap. The Lover's Leap is a large
pointed rock projecting over a dark and gloomy hollow, thirty or more
feet deep. Our guide told us that the young ladies often asked their
beaux to take the Lover's Leap, but that he never knew any to "love
hard enough" to attempt it. We descended into the hollow, immediately
below the Lover's Leap, and entered to the left and at right-angle
with our previous course, a passage or chasm in the rock, three feet
wide and fifty feet high, which conducted us to the lower branch of
the Gothic Avenue. At the entrance of this lower branch is an
immensely large flat rock called Gatewood's Dining Table, to the right
of which is a cave, which we penetrated, as far as the Cooling Tub--a
beautiful basin of water six feet wide and three deep--into which a
small stream of the purest water pours itself from the ceiling and
afterwards finds its way into the Flint Pit at no great distance.
Returning, we wound around Gatewood's Dining Table, which nearly
blocks up the way, and continued our walk along the lower branch more
than half a mile, passing Napoleon's Dome, the Cinder Banks, the
Crystal Pool, the Salts Cave, etc., etc. Descending a few feet and
leaving the cave which continues onwards, we entered, on our right, a
place of great seclusion and grandeur, called Annetti's Dome. Through
a crevice in the right wall of the dome is a waterfall. The water
issues in a stream a foot in diameter, from a high cave in the side of
the dome--falls upon the solid bottom, and passes off by a small
channel into the Cistern, which is directly on the pathway of the
cave. The Cistern is a large pit, which is usually kept nearly full of

Near the end of this branch, (the lower branch) there is a crevice in
the ceiling over the last spring, through which the sound of water may
be heard falling in a cave or open space above.

Highly gratified with what we had now seen in the Gothic Avenue, we
concluded to pursue it no further, but to retrace our steps to the
Main Cave, regretting however, that we had not visited the Salts Cave,
(a branch of the Gothic Avenue,) on being told, when too late, that it
would have amply compensated us for our trouble, being rich in fine
specimens of Epsom or Glauber salts.


The Ball-Room--Willie's Spring--Wandering Willie--Ox-Stalls--Giant's
Coffin--Acute-Angle or Great Bend--Range of Cabins--Curative Properties
of the Cave Air long known.

We are now again in the Main Cave or Grand Gallery, which continues to
increase in interest as we advance, eliciting from our party frequent
and loud exclamations of admiration and wonder. Not many steps from
the stairs leading down from the Gothic Avenue into the Main Cave, is
the Ball-Room, so called from its singular adaptedness to such a
purpose; for there is an orchestra, fifteen or eighteen feet high,
large enough to accommodate a hundred or more musicians, with a
gallery extending back to the level of the high embankment near the
Gothic Avenue; besides which, the avenue here is lofty, wide, straight
and perfectly level for several hundred feet. At the trifling expense
of a plank floor, seats and lamps, a ball-room might be had, if not
more splendid, at all events more grand and magnificent than any other
on earth. The effect of music here would be truly inspiring; but the
awful solemnity of the place may, in the opinion of many, prevent its
being used as a temple of Terpsichore. Extremes, we are told, often
meet. The same objection has been urged against the Cave's being used
for religious services. "No clergyman," remarked a distinguished
divine, "be he ever so eloquent could concentrate the attention of his
congregation in such a place. The God of nature speaks too loud here
for _man to be heard_."

Leaving these points to be settled as they may, we will proceed
onwards; the road now is broad and fine, and in many places dusty.
Next in order is Willie's Spring, a beautifully fluted niche in the
left hand wall, caused by the continual attrition of water trickling
down into a basin below. This spring derives its name from that of a
young gentleman, the son of a highly respectable clergyman of
Cincinnati, who, in the spirit of romance, assumed the name of
Wandering Willie, and taking with him his violin, marched on foot to
the Cave. Wishing no better place in which to pass the night, he
selected this spot, requesting the guide to call for him in the
morning. This he did and found him fast asleep upon his bed of earth,
with his violin beside him--ever since it has been called Willie's
Spring. Just beyond the spring and near the left wall, is the place
where the oxen were fed during the time of the miners; and strewn
around are a great many corn-cobs, to all appearance, and in fact,
perfectly sound, although they have lain there for more than thirty
years. In this neighborhood is a niche of great size in the wall on
the left, and reaching from the roof to the bottom of a pit more than
thirty feet deep, down the sides of which, water of the purest kind is
continually dripping, and is afterwards conducted to a large trough,
from which the invalids obtain their supply of water, during their
sojourn in the Cave. Near the bottom, this pit or well expands into a
large room, out of which, there is no opening. It is probable that
Richardson's Spring in the Deserted Chambers is supplied from this
well. Passing the Well Cave, Rocky Cave, etc., etc., we arrived at the
Giant's Coffin, a huge rock on the right, thus named from its singular
resemblance in shape to a coffin; its locality, apart from its great
size, renders it particularly conspicuous, as all must pass around it,
in leaving the Main Cave, to visit the rivers and the thousand wonders
beyond. At this point commence those incrustations, which, portraying
every imaginable figure on the ceiling, afford full scope to the
fanciful to picture what they will, whether of "birds, or beasts, or
creeping things." About a hundred yards beyond the Coffin, the Cave
makes a majestic curve, and sweeping round the Great Bend or
Acute-Angle, resumes its general course. Here the guide ignited a
Bengal light. This vast amphitheatre became illuminated, and a scene
of enchantment was exposed to our view. Poets may conceive, but no
language can describe, the splendor and sublimity of the scene. The
rapturous exclamations of our party might have been heard from afar,
both up and down this place of wonders. Opposite to the Great Bend, is
the entrance of the Sick Room Cave, so called from the fact of the
sudden sickness of a visiter a few years ago, supposed to have been
caused by his smoking, with others, cigars in one of its most remote
and confined nooks. Immediately beyond the Great Bend, a row of
cabins, built for consumptive patients, commences. All of these are
framed buildings, with the exception of two, which are of stone. They
stand in line, from thirty to one hundred feet apart, exhibiting a
picturesque, yet at the same time, a gloomy and mournful appearance.
They are well furnished, and without question, would with good and
comfortable accommodations, pure air and uniform temperature, cure the
pulmonary consumption. The invalids in the Cave ought to be cured; but
I doubt whether the Cave air or any thing else can cure confirmed
Phthisis. A knowledge of the curative properties of the Cave air, is
not, as is generally supposed, of recent date. It has been long known.
A physician of great respectability, formerly a member of Congress
from the district adjoining the Cave, was so firmly convinced of the
medical properties of its air, as to express more than twenty years
ago, as his opinion, that the State of Kentucky ought to purchase it,
with a view to establish a hospital in one of its avenues. Again the
author of "Calavar," himself a distinguished professor of medicine,
makes the following remarks in relation to the Cave air, as far back
as 1832, the date of his visit:

"It is always temperate. Its purity, judging from its effects on 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 visiters,
are extremely exhilarating; and that it is not less salubrious than
enlivening. The nitre diggers were a famously healthy set of men; it
was a common and humane practice to employ laborers of enfeebled
constitutions, who were soon restored to health and strength, though
kept at constant labour; 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 after a month or two of toil, in as
fine condition for the shambles, as if fattened in the stall. The
ordinary visiter, 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 then 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
dank, so dead, so mephitic. Awe and even apprehension, if that has
been felt, soon yield to the influence of 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 "translated" into very buxom and happy
persons before they are aware of it."

[Illustration: STAR CHAMBER.
On Stone by T. Campbell
Bauer & Teschemacher's Lith.]


Star Chamber--Salts Room--Indian Houses--Cross Rooms--Black Chambers--
A Dinner Party--Humble Chute--Solitary Care--Fairy Grotto--Chief City
or Temple--Lee's Description--Return to the Hotel.

The Star Chamber next attracted our attention. It presents the most
perfect optical illusion imaginable; in looking up to the ceiling,
which is here very high, you seem to see the very firmament itself,
studded with stars; and afar off, a comet with its long, bright tail.
Not far from this Star Chamber, may be seen, in a cavity in the wall
on the right, and about twenty feet above the floor, an oak pole about
ten feet long and six inches in diameter, with two round sticks of
half the thickness and three feet long, tied on to it transversely, at
about four feet apart. By means of a ladder we ascended to the cavity,
and found the pole to be firmly fixed--one end resting on the bottom
of the cavity, and the other reaching across and forced into a crevice
about three feet above. We supposed that this was a ladder once used
by the former inhabitants of the Cave, in getting the salts which are
incrusted on the walls in many places. Doct. Locke, of the Medical
College of Ohio, is, however, of the opinion, that on it was placed a
dead body,--similar contrivances being used by some Indian tribes on
which to place their dead. Although thousands have passed the spot,
still this was never seen until the fall of 1841. Ages have doubtless
rolled by since this was placed here, and yet it is perfectly sound;
even the bark which confines the transverse pieces shows no marks of

We passed through some Side Cuts, as they are called. These are caves
opening on the sides of the avenues; and after running for some
distance, entering them again. Some of them exceed half a mile in
length; but most generally they are short. In many of them, "quartz,
calcedony, red ochre, gypsum, and salts are found." The walking, in
this part of the avenue, being rough, we progressed but slowly, until
we reached the Salts Room; here we found the walls and ceiling covered
with salts hanging in crystals. The least agitation of the air causing
flakes of the crystals to fall like snow. In the Salts Room are the
Indian houses, under the rocks--small spaces or rooms completely
covered--some of which contain ashes and cane partly burnt. The
_Cross Rooms_, which we next come to, is a grand section of this
avenue; the ceiling has an unbroken span of one hundred and seventy
feet, without a column to support it! The mouths of two caves are seen
from this point, neither of which we visited, and much to our loss, as
will appear from the following extract from the "Notes on the Mammoth
Cave, by E.F. Lee, Esq., Civil Engineer," in relation to one of
them--the Black Chambers:

"At the ruins in the Black Chambers, there are a great many large
blocks composed of different strata of rocks, cemented together,
resembling the walls, pedestals, cornices, etc., of some old castle,
scattered over the bottom of the Cave. The avenue here is so wide, as
to make it quite a task to walk from one side to the other. On the
right hand, beyond the ruins, you enter the right branch, on the same
level--the ceiling of which is regularly arched. Through the Big
Chimneys you ascend into an upper room, about the size of the Main
Cave, the bottom of which is higher than the ceiling of the one below.
Proceeding on we soon heard the low murmurings of a water-fall,--the
sound of which becomes louder and louder as we advanced, until we
reached the Cataract. In the roof are perforations as large as a
hogshead, on the right hand side, from which water is ever falling, on
ordinary occasions in not very large quantities; but after heavy
rains--in torrents; and with a horrible roar that shakes the walls and
resounds afar through the Cave. It is at such times that these
cascades are worthy the name of cataracts, which they bear. The water
falling into a great funnel-shaped pit, immediately vanishes."

Here we concluded to dine, and at quite a fashionable hour--4, P.M.
The guide arranged the plates, knives and forks, wine-glasses, etc.,
on a huge table of rock, and announced,--"Dinner is ready!" We filled
our plates with the excellent viands prepared at the Cave House, and
seating ourselves on the rocks or nitre earth, partook of our repast
with the gusto of gourmands, and quaffing, ever and anon, wines which
would have done credit to the Astor or Tremont House. "There may be,"
remarked our corpulent friend B., "a great deal of romance in this way
of eating--with your plate on your lap, and seated on a rock or a lump
of nitre earth--but for my part I would rather dispense with the
poetry of the thing and eat a good dinner, whether above or below
ground, from off a bona-fide table, and seated in a good substantial
chair. The proprietor ought to have at all the watering places, (and
they are numerous,) tables, chairs, and the necessary table furniture,
that visitors might partake of their collations in some degree of
comfort." The guide who, by the way, is a very intelligent and
facetious fellow, was much amused at the suggestion of our friend, and
remarked that "the owner of the Cave, Doct. Croghan, lived near
Louisville, and that the only way to get such '_fixings_' at the
watering places, was to write to him on the subject." "Then," said B.,
"for the sake of those who may follow after us, I will take it upon
myself to write."

From this point you have a view of the Main Avenue on our left,
pursuing its general course, and exhibiting the same solemn grandeur
as from the commencement,--and directly before us the way to the
Humble Chute and the Cataract. The Humble Chute is the entrance to the
Solitary Chambers; before entering which, we must crawl on our hands
and knees some fifteen or twenty feet under a low arch. It is
appropriately named; as is the Solitary Chambers which we have now
entered. You feel here,--to use an expression of one of our
party,--"out of the world." Without dwelling on the intervening
objects--although they are numerous and not without interest,--we will
enter at once the Fairy Grotto of the Solitary Cave. It is in truth a
fairy grotto; a countless number of Stalactites are seen extending, at
irregular distances, from the roof to the floor, of various sizes and
of the most fantastic shapes--some quite straight, some crooked, some
large and hollow--forming irregularly fluted columns; and some solid
near the ceiling, and divided lower down, into a great number of small
branches like the roots of trees; exhibiting the appearance of a coral
grove. Hanging our lamps to the incrustations on the columns, the
grove of Stalactites became faintly lighted up, disclosing a scene of
extraordinary wildness and beauty. "This is nothing to what you'll see
on the other side of the rivers," cries our guide, smiling at our
enthusiastic admiration. With all its present beauty, this grotto is
far from being what it was, before it was despoiled and robbed some
eight or nine years ago, by a set of vandals, who, through sheer
wantonness, broke many of the stalactites, leaving them strewn on the
floor--a disgustful memorial of their vulgar propensities and
barbarian-like conduct.

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

"The Temple is an immense vault covering an area of two acres, and
covered by a single dome of solid rock, one hundred and twenty feet
high. It excels in size the Cave of Staffa; and rivals the celebrated
vault in the Grotto of Antiparos, which is said to be the largest in
the world. In passing through from one end to the other, the dome
appears to follow like the sky in passing from place to place on the
earth. In the middle of the dome there is a large mound of rocks
rising on one side nearly to the top, very steep and forming what is
called the _Mountain_. When first I ascended this mound from the cave
below, I was struck with a feeling of awe more deep and intense, than
any thing that I had ever before experienced. I could only observe the
narrow circle which was illuminated immediately around me; above and
beyond was apparently an unlimited space, in which the ear could catch
not the slightest sound, nor the eye find an object to rest upon. It
was filled with silence and darkness; and yet I knew that I was
beneath the earth, and that this space, however large it might be, was
actually bounded by solid walls. My curiosity was rather excited than
gratified. In order that I might see the whole in one connected view,
I built fires in many places with the pieces of cane which I found
scattered among the rocks. Then taking my stand on the Mountain, a
scene was presented of surprising magnificence. On the opposite side
the strata of gray limestone, breaking up by steps from the bottom,
could scarcely be discerned in the distance by the glimmering light.
Above was the lofty dome, closed at the top by a smooth oval slab,
beautifully defined in the outline, from which the walls sloped away
on the right and left into thick darkness. Every one has heard of the
dome of the Mosque of St. Sophia, of St. Peter's and 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 surpassing grandeur of Nature's works."

[Illustration: CHIEF CITY OR TEMPLE.
On Stone by T. Campbell
Bauer & Teschemacher's Lith.]

To us, the Temple seemed to merit the glowing description above given,
but what would Lee think, on being told, that since the discovery of
the rivers and the world of beauties beyond them, not one person in
fifty visits the Temple or the Fairy Grotto; they are now looked upon
as tame and uninteresting. The hour being now late, we concluded to
proceed no further, but to return to the hotel, where we arrived at
11, P.M.


Arrival of a large Party--Second Visit--Lamps Extinguished--Laughable
Confusion--Wooden Bowl--Deserted Chambers--Richardson's Side-Saddle
Pit--The Labyrinth--Louisa's Dome--Gorin's Dome--Bottomless Pit--
Separation of our Party.

On being summoned to breakfast the next morning, we ascertained that a
large party of ladies and gentlemen had arrived during our absence,
who, like ourselves, were prepared to enter the Cave. They, however,
were for hurrying over the rivers, to the distant points beyond--we,
for examining leisurely the avenues on this side. At 8 o'clock, both
parties accompanied by their respective guides and making a very
formidable array, set out from the hotel, happy in the anticipation of
the "sights to be seen." It was amusing to hear the remarks, and to
witness the horror of some of the party on first beholding the mouth
of the Cave. Oh! it is so frightful!--It is so cold!--I _cannot_ go
in! Notwithstanding all this, curiosity prevailed, and down we
went--arranged our lamps, which being extinguished in passing through
the doorway by the strong current of air rushing outwards, there arose
such a clamor, such laughter, such screaming, such crying out for the
guides, as though all Bedlam had broke loose,--the guides exerting
themselves to quiet apprehensions, and the visiters of yesterday
knowing that there was neither danger nor just cause of alarm, doing
their utmost to counteract their efforts, by well feigned exclamations
of terror. At length the lamps were re-lighted and order being
restored, onward we went. The Vestibule and Church were each in turn
illuminated, to the enthusiastic delight of all--even those of the
party, who were but now so terrified, were loud in their expressions
of admiration and wonder. Arrived at the Giant's Coffin, we leave the
Main Cave to enter regions very dissimilar to those we have seen. A
narrow passage behind the Coffin leads to a circular room, one hundred
feet in diameter, with a low roof, called the Wooden Bowl, in allusion
to its figure, or as some say, from a wooden bowl having been found
here by some old miner. This Bowl is the vestibule of the Deserted
Chambers. On the right, are the Steeps of Time, (why so called we are
left to conjecture,) down which, descending about twenty feet, and
almost perpendicularly for the first ten, we enter the Deserted
Chambers, which in their course present features extremely wild,
terrific and multiform. For two hundred yards the ceiling as you
advance is rough and broken, but further on, it is waving, white and
smooth as if worn by water. At Richardson's Spring, the imprint of
moccasins and of children's feet, of some by-gone age, were recently
seen. There are more pits in the Deserted Chambers than in any other
portion of the Cave; and among the most noted are the Covered Pit, the
Side-Saddle Pit and the Bottomless Pit. Indeed the whole range of
these chambers, is so interrupted by pits, and throughout is so
irregular and serpentine and so bewildering from the number of its
branches, that the visiter, doubtful of his footing, and uncertain as
to his course, is soon made sensible of the prudence of the
regulation, which enjoins him, "not to leave the guide." "The Covered
Pit is in a little branch to the left; this pit is twelve or fifteen
feet in diameter, covered with a thin rock, around which a narrow
crevice extends, leaving only a small support on one side. There is a
large rock resting on the centre of the cover. The sound of a
waterfall may be heard from the pit but cannot be seen." The
Side-Saddle Pit is about twenty feet long and eight feet wide, with a
margin about three feet high, and extending lengthwise ten feet,
against which one may safely lean, and view the interior of the pit
and dome. After a short walk from this place, we came to a ladder on
our right, which conducted us down about fifteen feet into a narrow
pass, not more than five feet wide; this pass is the Labyrinth, one
end of which leads to the Bottomless Pit, entering it about fifty feet
down, and the other after various windings, now up, now down, over a
bridge, and up and down ladders, conducts you to one of the chief
glories of the Cave,--Gorin's Dome; which, strange to tell, was not
discovered until a few years ago. Immediately behind the ladder, there
is a narrow opening in the rock, extending up very nearly to the cave
above, which leads about twenty feet back to Louisa's Dome, a pretty
little place of not more than twelve feet in diameter, but of twice
that height. This dome is directly under the centre of the cave we had
just been traversing, and when lighted up, persons within it can be
plainly seen from above, through a crevice in the rock. Arrived at
Gorin's Dome, we were forcibly struck by the seeming appearance of
_design_, in the arrangement of the several parts, for the special
accommodation of visiters--even with reference to their number. The
Labyrinth, which we followed up, brought us at its termination, to a
window or hole, about four feet square, three feet above the floor,
opening into the interior of the dome, about midway between the bottom
and top; the wall of rock being at this spot, not more than eighteen
inches thick; and continuing around, and on the outside of the dome,
along a gallery of a few feet in width, for twenty or more paces, we
arrived at another opening of much larger size, eligibly disposed, and
commanding, like the first, a view of very nearly the whole interior
space. Whilst we are arranging ourselves, the guide steals away,
passes down, down, one knows not how, and is presently seen by the dim
light of his lamp, fifty feet below, standing near the wall on the
inside of the dome. The dome is of solid rock, with sides apparently
fluted and polished, and perhaps two hundred feet high. Immediately in
front and about thirty feet from the window, a huge rock seems
suspended from above and arranged in folds like a curtain. Here we are
then, the guide fifty feet below us. Some of the party thrusting their
heads and, in their anxiety to see, their bodies through the window
into the vast and gloomy dome of two hundred feet in height. The
window is not large enough to afford a view to all at once, they crowd
one on the top of the other; the more cautious, and those who do not
like to be squeezed, stand back; but still holding fast to the
garments of their friends for fear they might in the ecstasy of their
feelings, leap into the frightful abyss into which they are looking.
Suddenly the guide ignites a _Bengal light_. The vast dome is radiant
with light. Above, as far as the eye can reach, are seen the shining
sides of the fluted walls; below, the yawning gulf is rendered the
more terrific, by the pallid light exposing to view its vast depth,
the whole displaying a scene of sublimity and splendor, such as words
have not power to describe. Returning, we ascended the ladder near
Louisa's Dome, and continued on, having the Labyrinth on our right
side until it terminates in the Bottomless Pit. This pit terminates
also the range of the Deserted Chambers, and was considered the Ultima
Thule of all explorers, until within the last few years, when Mr.
Stephenson of Georgetown, Ky. and the intrepid guide, Stephen,
conceived the idea of reaching the opposite side by throwing a ladder
across the frightful chasm. This they accomplished, and on this
ladder, extending across a chasm of twenty feet wide and near two
hundred deep, did these daring explorers cross to the opposite side,
and thus open the way to all those splendid discoveries, which have
added so much to the value and renown of the Mammoth Cave. The
Bottomless Pit is somewhat in the shape of a horse-shoe, having a
tongue of land twenty seven feet long, running out into the middle of
it. From the end of this point of land, a substantial bridge has been
thrown across to the cave on the opposite side.

[Illustration: BOTTOMLESS PIT.
On Stone by T. Campbell
Bauer & Teschemacher's Lith.]

While standing on the bridge, the guide lets down a lighted paper into
the deep abyss; it descends twisting and turning, lower and lower, and
is soon lost in total darkness, leaving us to conjecture, as to what
may be below. Crossing the bridge to the opposite cave, we find
ourselves in the midst of rocks of the most gigantic size lying along
the edge of the pit and on our left hand. Above the pit is a dome of
great size, but which, from its position, few have seen. Proceeding
along a narrow passage for some distance, we arrived at the point from
which diverge two noted routes--the Winding Way and Pensico Avenue.
Here we called a short halt; then wishing our newly formed
acquintances [Transcriber's note: sic] a safe voyage over the "deep
waters," we parted; they taking the left hand to the Winding Way and
the rivers, and we the right to Pensico Avenue.


Pensico Avenue--Great Crossings--Pine Apple Bush--Angelica's Grotto--
Winding Way--Fat Friend in Trouble--Relief Hall--Bacon Chamber--
Bandit's Hall.

Pensico Avenue averages about fifty feet in width, with a height of
about thirty feet; and is said to be two miles long. It unites in an
eminent degree the truly beautiful with the sublime, and is highly
interesting throughout its entire extent. For a quarter of a mile from
the entrance, the roof is beautifully arched, about twelve feet high
and sixty wide, and formerly was encrusted with rosettes and other
formations, nearly all of which have been taken away or demolished,
leaving this section of the Cave quite denuded. The walking here is
excellent; a dozen persons might run abreast for a quarter of a mile
to Bunyan's Way, a branch of the avenue, leading on to the river. At
this point the avenue changes its features of beauty and regularity,
for those of wild grandeur and sublimity, which it preserves to the
end. The way, no longer smooth and level, is frequently interrupted
and turned aside by huge rocks, which lie tumbled around, in all
imaginable disorder. The roof now becomes very lofty and imposingly
magnificent; its long, pointed or lancet arches, forcibly reminding
you of the rich and gorgeous ceilings of the old Gothic Cathedrals, at
the same time solemnly impressing you with the conviction that this is
a "building not made with hands." No one, not dead to all the more
refined sensibilities of our nature, but must exclaim, in beholding
the sublime scenes which here present themselves, this is not the work
of man! No one can be here without being reminded of the all pervading
presence of the great "Father of all."

    "What, but God, pervades, adjusts and agitates the whole!"

Not far from the point at which the avenue assumes the rugged
features, which now characterize it, we separated from our guide, he
continuing his straight-forward course, and we descending gradually a
few feet and entering a tunnel of fifteen feet wide on our left, the
ceiling twelve or fourteen feet high, perfectly arched and beautifully
covered with white incrustations, very soon reached the Great
Crossings. Here the guide jumped down some six or eight feet from the
avenue which we had left, into the tunnel where we were standing, and
crossing it, climbed up into the avenue, which he pursued for a short
distance or until it united with the tunnel, where he again joined us.
In separating from, then crossing, and again uniting with the avenue,
it describes with it something like the figure 8. The name, Great
Crossings, is not unapt. It was however, not given, as our intelligent
guide veritably assured us, in honor of the Great Crossings where the
man lives who killed Tecumseh, but because two great caves cross here;
and moreover said he, "the valiant Colonel ought to change the name of
his place, as no two places in a State should bear the same name, and
this being the _great_ place ought to have the preference."

Not very far from this point, we ascended a hill on our left, and
walking a short distance over our shoe-tops in dry nitrous earth, in a
direction somewhat at a right angle with the avenue below, we arrived
at the Pine Apple Bush, a large column, composed of a white, soft,
crumbling material, with bifurcations extending from the floor to the
ceiling. At a short distance, either to the right or left, you have a
fine view of the avenue some twenty feet below, both up and down. Why
this crumbling stalactite is called the Pine Apple Bush, I cannot
divine. It stands however in a charming, secluded spot, inviting to
repose; and we luxuriated in inhaling the all-inspiring air, while
reclining on the clean, soft and dry salt petre earth.

All lovers of romantic scenery ought to visit this avenue, and all
dyspeptic hypochondriacs and love-sick despondents should do likewise,
for there is something wonderfully exhilarating in the air of Pensico.
Our friend B. remarked while rolling on the salt petre earth at the
Pine Apple Bush, that he felt "especially happy," and whether from
sympathy, air or what not, we all partook of the same feeling. The
guide seeing the position of our fat friend, and hearing his remark,
said, laughing most immoderately, "these sort of feelings would come
over one, now and then in the Cave, but wait till you get in the
Winding Way and see how you feel then."

Having descended into the avenue we had left, we passed a number of
stalactites and stalagmites, bearing a remarkable resemblance to
coral, and a hundred or more paces beyond, arrived at a recess on the
left, lined with innumerable crystals of dog-tooth spar, shining most
brilliantly, called Angelica's Grotto. One would think it almost
sacrilege to deface a spot like this; yet, did a Clergyman (the back
of the guide being turned,) deliberately demolish a number of
beautiful crystals to inscribe the initials of his name.

Returning to the head of Pensico Avenue, we turned to our right, and
entered the narrow pass which leads to the river, pursuing which, for
a few hundred yards, descending all the while, at one or two places
down a ladder or stone steps, we came to a path cut through a high and
broad embankment of sand, which very soon conducted us to the much
talked of and anxiously looked for Winding Way. The Winding Way, has,
in the opinion of many, been channeled in the rock by the gradual
attrition of water. If this be so, and appearances seem to support
such belief, at what early age of the world did the work commence? Was
it not when "the earth was without form and void," thousands of years
perhaps, before the date of the Mosaic account of the Creation? The
Winding Way is one hundred and five feet long, eighteen inches wide,
and from three to seven feet deep, widening out above, sufficiently to
admit the free use of one's arms. It is throughout tortuous, a perfect
_zig-zag_, the terror of the Falstaffs and the ladies of "fat, fair
and forty," who have an instinctive dread of the trials to come, and
are well aware of the merriment that their efforts to _force a
passage_ will excite among their companions of less length of girdle.
Into this winding way, we entered in Indian file, and turning our
right side, then our left, twisting this way, then that, had nearly
made good the passage, when our _fat friend_, who was puffing and
blowing behind us like a high pressure engine, cried out, "Halt, ahead
there! I am stuck as tight as a wedge in a log!" Halt we did, when the
guide, looking at our friend, who was in truth "wedg'd in the rocky
way and sticking fast," cried out, "I told you, when you said at the
Pine Apple Bush, that you felt _especially happy_, to wait till you
got to the Winding Way, to see how you would feel then!" The
imprisoned gentleman soon burst his bonds, not, however, without
damage to his indispensables; and at length forcing his way into
Relief Hall, he cried out, in the joy of his heart, while stretching
himself and wiping the perspiration from his jolly, rubicund face,
"never was a name more appropriate given to any place--Relief. I feel
already the _expansive faculty_ of the atmosphere, I can now breathe

Relief Hall, which you enter from the Winding Way, at a right-angle,
is very wide and lofty but not long; turning to the right, we reached
its termination at River Hall, a distance of perhaps, one hundred
yards. Here two routes present themselves; the one to the left
conducts to the Dead Sea and the Rivers, and that to the right, to the
Bacon Chamber, the Bandit's Hall, the Mammoth Dome and an infinity of
other caves, domes, etc. We will speak of the Bacon Chamber; but
before doing so, let us take our lunch. The air or exercise, or
probably both, acted as powerful appetizers, and we soon gave proof
that we needed not Stoughton's bitters to provoke an appetite. Having
discussed a few glasses of excellent Hock, we left the Bacon Chamber,
which is a pretty fair representation of a low ceiling, thickly hung
with canvassed hams and shoulders; and proceeded to the Bandit's Hall,
up a steep ascent of twenty or thirty feet, rendered very difficult,
by the huge rocks which obstructed the way and over which we were
forced to clamber. The name is indicative of the spot. It is a vast
and lofty chamber, the floor covered with a mountainous heap of rocks
rising amphitheatrically almost to the ceiling, and so disposed as to
furnish at different elevations, galleries or platforms, reaching
immediately around the chamber itself or leading off into some of its
hidden recesses. The guide is presently seen standing at a fearful
height above, and suddenly a Bengal light, blazes up, "when the rugged
roof, the frowning cliffs and the whole chaos of rocks are refulgent
in the brilliant glare." The sublimity of the scene is beyond the
powers of the imagination.


Mammoth Dome--First Discoverers--Little Dome--Tale of a Lamp--Return.

From the Bandit's Hall, diverge two caves; one of which, the left,
leads you to a multitude of domes; and the right, to one which, _par
excellence_, is called the Mammoth Dome. Taking the right, we arrived,
after a rugged walk of nearly a mile, to a platform, which commands an
indistinct view of this dome of domes. It was discovered by a German
gentleman and the guide Stephen about two years ago, but was not
explored until some months after, when it was visited by a party of
four or five, accompanied by two guides, and well prepared with ropes,
&c. From the platform, the guides were let down about twenty feet, by
means of a rope, and upon reaching the ground below, they found
themselves on the side of a hill, which, descending about fifty feet,
brought them immediately under the Great Dome, from the summit of
which, there is a water-fall. This dome is near four hundred feet
high, and is justly considered one of the most sublime and wonderful
spectacles of this most wonderful of caverns. From the bottom of the
dome they ascended the hill to the place to which they had been
lowered from the platform, and continuing thence up a very steep hill,
more than one hundred feet, they reached its summit. Arrived at the
summit, a scene of awful grandeur and magnificence is presented to the
view. Looking down the declivity, you see far below to the left, the
visiters whom you have left behind, standing on the platform or
termination of the avenue along which they had come; and lower down
still, the bottom of the Great Dome itself. Above, two hundred and
eighty feet, is the ceiling, lost in the obscurity of space and
distance. The height of the ceiling was determined by E.F. Lee, civil
engineer. This fact in regard to the elevation of the ceiling and the
locality of the Great Hall, was subsequently ascertained, by finding
on the summit of the hill, (a spot never before trodden by man,) an
iron lamp!! The astonishment of the guides, as well as of the whole
party, on beholding the lamp, can be easily imagined; and to this day
they would have been ignorant of its history, but for the accidental
circumstance of an old man being at the Cave Hotel, who, thirty years
ago, was engaged as a miner in the saltpetre establishment of Wilkins
& Gratz. He, on being shown the lamp, said at once, that it had been
found under the crevice pit (a fact that surprised all,); that during
the time Wilkins & Gratz were engaged in the manufacture of saltpetre,
a Mr. Gatewood informed Wilkins, that in all probability, the richest
nitre earth was under the crevice pit. The depth of this pit being
then unknown, Wilkins, to ascertain it, got a rope of 45 feet long,
and fastening this identical lamp to the end of it, lowered it into
the pit, in the doing of which, the string caught on fire, and down
fell the lamp. Wilkins made an offer of two dollars to any one of the
miners who would descend the pit and bring up the lamp. His offer was
accepted by a man, who, in consequence of his diminutive stature, was
nicknamed Little Dave; and the rope being made fast about his waist,
he, torch in hand, was lowered to the full extent of the forty-five
feet. Being then drawn up, the poor fellow was found to be so
excessively alarmed, that he could scarcely articulate; but having
recovered from his fright, and again with the full power of utterance,
he declared that no money could tempt him to try again for the lamp;
and in excuse for such a determination, he related the most marvellous
story of what he had seen--far exceeding the wonderful things which
the unexampled Don Quixote de la Mancha declared he had seen in the
deep cave of Montesinos. Dave was, in fact, suspended at the height of
two hundred and forty feet above the level below. Such is the history
of the _lamp_, as told by the old miner, Holton, the correctness of
which was very soon verified; for guides having been sent to the place
where the lamp was found, and persons at the same time stationed at
the mouth of the crevice pit, their proximity was at once made
manifest by the very audible sound of each other's voices, and by the
fact that sticks thrown into the pit fell at the feet of the guides
below, and were brought out by them. The distance from the mouth of
the Cave to this pit, falls short of half a mile; yet to reach the
grand apartment immediately under it, requires a circuit to be made of
at least three miles. The illumination of that portion of the Great
Dome on the left, and of the hall on the top of the hill to the right,
as seen from the platform, was unquestionably one of the most
impressive spectacles we had witnessed; but to be seen to advantage,
another position ought to be taken by the spectator, and the dome with
its towering height, and the hall on the summit of the hill, with its
gigantic stalagmite columns, and ceiling two hundred feet high,
illuminated by the simultaneous ignition of a number of Bengal lights,
judiciously arranged. Such was the enthusiastic admiration of some
foreigners on witnessing an illumination of the Great Dome and Hall,
that they declared, it alone would compensate for a voyage across the
Atlantic. With the partial illumination of the Great Dome, we closed
our explorations on this side of the rivers, and retracing our steps,
reached the hotel about sun-set. At mid-night, the party which
separated from us at the entrance of Pensico Avenue, returned from the
points beyond the Echo river.


Third Visit--River Hall--Dead Sea--River Styx--Lethe--Echo River--
Purgatory--Eyeless Fish--Supposed Boil of the Rivers--Sources and
Outlet Unknown.

Early the next morning, having made all the necessary preparations for
the grand tour, which we were the more anxious to take from the
glowing accounts of the party recently returned, we entered the cave
immediately after an early breakfast, and proceeded rapidly on to
River Hall. It was evident from the appearance of the flood here, that
it had been recently overflown.

[Illustration: RIVER SCENE.
On Stone by T. Campbell
Bauer & Teschemacher's Lith.]

"The cave, or the River Hall," remarks a fair and distinguished
authoress, whose description of the river scenery is so graphic, that
I cannot do better than transcribe it throughout: "The River Hall
descends like the slope of a mountain; the ceiling stretches
away--away before you, vast and grand as the firmament at midnight."
Going on, and gradually ascending and keeping close to the right hand
wall, you observe on your left "a steep precipice, over which you can
look down by the aid of blazing missiles, upon a broad black sheet of
water, eighty feet below, called the Dead Sea. This is an awfully
impressive place; the sights and sounds of which, do not easily pass
from memory. He who has seen it, will have it vividly brought before
him, by Alfieri's description of Filippo, 'only a transient word or
act gives us a short and dubious glimmer, that reveals to us the
abysses of his being--dark, lurid and terrific, as the throat of the
infernal pool.' Descending from the eminence, by a ladder of about
twenty feet, we find ourselves among piles of gigantic rocks, and one
of the most picturesque sights in the world, is to see a file of men
and women passing along those wild and scraggy paths, moving
slowly--slowly, that their lamps may have time to illuminate their
sky-like ceiling and gigantic walls--disappearing behind high
cliffs--sinking into ravines--their lights shining upwards through
fissures in the rocks--then suddenly emerging from some abrupt angle,
standing in the bright gleam of their lamps, relieved by the towering
black masses around them. He, who could paint the infinite variety of
creation, can alone give an adequate idea of this marvellous region.
As you pass along, you hear the roar of invisible waterfalls; and at
the foot of the slope, the river Styx lies before you, deep and black,
overarched with rock. The first glimpse of it brings to mind, the
descent of Ulysses into hell,

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

Across (or rather down) these unearthly waters, the guide can convey
but four passengers at once. The lamps are fastened to the prow; the
images of which, are reflected in the dismal pool. If you are
impatient of delay, or eager for new adventures, you can leave your
companions lingering about the shore, and cross the Styx by a
dangerous bridge of precipices overhead. In order to do this, you must
ascend a steep cliff, and enter a cave above, 300 yards long, from an
egress of which, you find yourself on the bank of the river, eighty
feet above its surface, commanding a view of those in the boat, and
those waiting on the shore. Seen from this height, the lamps in the
canoe glare like fiery eye-balls; and the passengers, sitting there so
hushed and motionless, look like shadows. The scene is so strangely
funereal and spectral, that it seems as if the Greeks must have
witnessed it, before they imagined Charon conveying ghosts to the dim
regions of Pluto. Your companions thus seen, do indeed--

  "Skim along the dusky glades,
  Thin airy souls, and visionary shades."

If you turn your eyes from the canoe to the parties of men and women
whom you left waiting on the shore, you will see them by the gleam of
their lamps, scattered in picturesque groups, looming out in bold
relief from the dense darkness around them.

Having passed the Styx, (much the smallest of the rivers,) you walk
over a pile of large rocks, and are on the banks of Lethe; and looking
back, you will see a line of men and women descending the high hill
from the cave, which runs _over_ the river Styx. Here are two boats,
and the parties, which have come by the two routes, _down_ the Styx or
_over_ it, uniting, descend the Lethe about a quarter of a mile, the
ceiling for the entire distance being very high--certainly not less
than fifty feet. On landing, you enter a level and lofty hall, called
the Great Walk, which stretches to the banks of the Echo, a distance
of three or four hundred yards. The Echo is truly a river: it is wide
and deep enough, at all times, to float the largest steamer. At the
point of embarkation, the arch is very low, not more than three feet,
in an ordinary stage of water, being left for a boat to pass through.
Passengers, of course, are obliged to double up, and lie upon each
others shoulders, in a most uncomfortable way, but their suffering is
of short duration; in two boat lengths, they emerge to where the vault
of the cave is lofty and wide. The boat in which we embarked was
sufficiently large to carry twelve persons, and our voyage down the
river was one of deep, indeed of most intense interest. The novelty,
the grandeur, the magnificence of every thing around elicited
unbounded admiration and wonder. All sense of danger, (had any been
experienced before,) was lost in the solemn, quiet sublimity of the
scene. The rippling of the water caused by the motion of our boat is
heard afar off, beating under the low arches and in the cavities of
the rocks. The report of a pistol is as that of the heaviest
artillery, and long and afar does the echo resound, like the muttering
of distant thunder. The voice of song was raised on this dark, deep
water, and the sound was as that of the most powerful choir. A fall
band of music on this river of echoes would indeed be overpowering.
The aquatic excursion was more to our taste than any thing we had
seen, and never can the impression it made be obliterated from our

The Echo is three quarters of a mile long. A rise of the water of
merely a few feet connects the three rivers. After long and heavy
rains, these rivers sometimes rise to a perpendicular height of more
than fifty feet; and then they, as well as the cataracts, exhibit a
most terrific appearance. The low arch at the entrance of the Echo,
can not be passed when there is a rise of water of even two feet. Once
or twice parties have been caught on the further side by a sudden
rise, and for a time their alarm was great, not knowing that there was
an upper cave through which they could pass, that would lead them
around the arch to the Great Walk. This upper cave, or passage, is
called Purgatory, and is, for a distance of forty feet, so low, that
persons have to crawl on their faces, or, as the guides say, _snake
it_. We were pleased to learn that this passage would soon be
sufficiently enlarged to enable persons to walk through erect. This
accomplished, an excursion to Cleveland's Avenue may be made almost
entirely by land, at the same time that all apprehensions of being
caught beyond Echo will be removed. It is in these rivers, that the
extraordinary white eyeless fish are caught--we secured two of them.
There is not the slightest indication of an organ similar to an eye,
to be discovered. They have been dissected by skillful anatomists, who
declare that they are not only without eyes, but also develope other
anomalies in their organization, singularly interesting to the
naturalist. "The rivers of Mammoth Cave were never crossed till 1840.
Great efforts have been made to discover whence they come and whither
they go, yet they still remain as much a mystery as ever--without
beginning or end; like eternity."

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

  Thy current makes no music--
    A hollow sound we hear;
  A muffled voice of mystery,
    And know that thou art near.

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

According to the barometrical measurement of Professor Locke, the
rivers of the Cave are nearly on a level with Green River; but the
report of Mr. Lee, civil engineer, is widely different. He says, "The
bottom of the Little Bat Room Pit 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 some others." The
rivers of the Cave were unknown at the time of Mr. Lee's visit in
1835, but they are unquestionably _lower_ than the bottom of the pits,
and receive the water which flows from them. According to the
statement of Lee, the bed of these rivers is lower than the bed of
Green River at its junction with the Ohio, taking for granted that the
report of the State engineers as to the extent of fall between a point
above the Cave and the Ohio, be correct, of which there is no doubt.
"It becomes, then," continues Mr. Lee, in reference to the waters of
the Cave, "an object of interesting inquiry to determine in what way
it is disposed of. If it empties into Green River, the Ohio, or the
ocean, it must run a great distance under ground, with a very small


Pass of El Ghor--Silliman's Avenue--Wellington's Gallery--Sulphur
Spring--Mary's Vineyard--Holy Sepulchre--Commencement of Cleveland
Avenue--By whom Discovered--Beautiful Formations--Snow-ball Room--
Rocky Mountains--Croghan's Hall--Serena's Arbor--Dining Table--
Dinner Party and Toast--Hoax of the Guide--Homeward Bound Passage--

Having now left the Echo, we have a walk of four miles to Cleveland's
Avenue. The intervening points are of great interest; but it would
occupy too much time to describe them. We will therefore hurry on
through the pass of El Ghor, Silliman's Avenue, and Wellington's
Gallery, to the foot of the ladder which leads up to the Elysium of
Mammoth cave. And here, for the benefit of the weary and thirsty, and
of all others whom it may interest, coming after us, be it known, that
Carneal's Spring is close at hand, and equally near, a sulphur spring,
the water of which, equals in quality and quantity that of the
far-famed White Sulphur Spring, of Virginia. At the head of the
ladder, you find yourself surrounded by overhanging stalactites, in
the form of rich clusters of grapes, hard as flint, and round and
polished, as if done by a sculptor's hand. This is called Mary's
Vineyard--the commencement of Cleveland's Avenue, the crowning wonder
and glory of this subterranean world. Proceeding to the right about, a
hundred feet from this spot, over a rough and rather difficult way,
you reach the base of the height or hill, on which, stands the Holy
Sepulchre. This interesting spot is reached at some hazard, as the
ascent, which is very steep, and more than twenty feet high, affords
no secure footing, owing to the loose and shingly character of the
surface, until the height is gained. Having achieved this, you stand
immediately at the beautiful door-way of the Chapel, or anteroom of
the Sepulchre. This Chapel, which is, perhaps, twelve feet square,
with a low ceiling, and decorated in the most gorgeous manner, with
well-arranged draperies of stalactite of every imaginable shape, leads
you to the room of the Holy Sepulchre adjoining, which is without
ornament or decoration of any kind; exhibiting nothing but dark and
bare walls--like a charnel house. In the centre of this room, which
stands a few feet below the Chapel, is, to all appearance, a grave,
hewn out of the living rock. This is the Holy Sepulchre. A Roman
Catholic priest discovered it about three years ago, and with fervent
enthusiasm exclaimed, "The Holy Sepulchre!" a name which it has since
borne. Returning from the Holy Sepulchre, we commence our wanderings
through Cleveland's Avenue--an avenue three miles long, seventy feet
wide, and twelve or fifteen feet high--an avenue more rich and
gorgeous than any ever revealed to man--an avenue abounding in
formations such as are no where else to be seen, and which the most
stupid observer could not behold without feelings of wonder and
admiration. Some of the formations in the avenue, have been
denominated by Professor Locke, oulophilites, or curled leafed stone;
and in remarking upon them, he says, "They are unlike any thing yet
discovered; equally beautiful for the cabinet of the amateur, and
interesting to the geological philosopher." And I, although a wanderer
myself in various climes, and somewhat of a mineralogist withal, have
never seen or heard of such. Apprehensive that I might, in attempting
to describe much that I have seen, color too highly, I will, in lieu
thereof, offer the remarks of an intelligent clergyman, extracted from
the New York Christian Observer, of a recent date: "The most
imaginative poet never conceived or painted a palace of such exquisite
beauty and loveliness, as Cleveland's Cabinet, into which you now
pass. Were the wealth of princes bestowed on the most skilful
lapidaries, with the view of rivaling the splendors of this single
chamber, the attempt would be vain. How then can I hope to give you a
conception of it? You must see it; and you will then feel that all
attempt at description, is futile." The Cabinet was discovered by Mr.
Patten, of Louisville, and Mr. Craig, of Philadelphia, accompanied by
the guide Stephen, and extends in nearly a direct line about one and a
half miles, (the guides 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 with ease in all its parts. It is incrusted
from end to end with the most beautiful formations, in every variety
of form. The base of the whole, is carbonate (sulphate) of lime, in
part of dazzling whiteness, and perfectly smooth, and in other places
crystallized so as to glitter like diamonds in the light. Growing from
this, in endlessly diversified forms, is a substance resembling
selenite, translucent and imperfectly laminated. It is most probably
sulphate of lime, (a gypsum,) combined with sulphate of magnesia. Some
of the crystals bear a striking resemblance to branches of celery, and
all about the same length; while others, a foot or more in length,
have the color and appearance of _vanilla cream candy_; others are set
in sulphate of lime, in the form of a rose; and others still roll out
from the base, in forms resembling the ornaments on the capitol of a
Corinthian column. (You see how I am driven for analogies.) Some of
the incrustations are massive and splendid; others are as delicate as
the lily, or as fancy-work of shell or wax. Think of traversing an
arched way like this for a mile and a half, and all the wonders of the
tales of youth--"Arabian Nights," and all--seem tame, compared with
the living, growing reality. Yes, _growing_ reality; for the process
is going on before your eyes. Successive coats of these incrustations,
have been perfected and crowded off by others; so that hundreds of
tons of these gems lie at your feet, and are crushed as you pass,
while the work of restoring the ornaments for nature's _boudoir_, is
proceeding around you. Here and there, through the whole extent, you
will find openings in the sides, into which you may thrust the person,
and often stand erect in little grottoes, perfectly incrusted with a
delicate white substance, reflecting the light from a thousand
glittering points. All the way you might have heard us exclaiming,
"Wonderful, wonderful! O, Lord, how manifold are thy works!" With
general unity of form and appearance, there is considerable variety in
"the Cabinet." The "_Snow-ball Room_," for example, is a section of
the cave described above, some 200 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 frolics. So far as I know, these
"snow-balls" are a perfect anomaly among all the strange forms of
crystalization. It is the result, I presume, of an unusual combination
of the sulphates of lime and magnesia, with a carbonate of the former.
We found here and elsewhere in the Cabinet, fine specimens of the
sulphate of Magnesia, (or Epsom salts,) a foot or two long, and three
inches in thickness.

Leaving the quiet and beautiful "Cabinet," you come suddenly upon the
"Rocky Mountains," furnishing a contrast so bold and striking, as
almost to startle you. Clambering up the rough side some thirty feet,
you pass close under the roof of the cavern you have left, and find
before you an immense transverse cave, 100 feet or more from the
ceiling to the floor, with a huge pile of rocks half filling the
hither side--they were probably dashed from the roof in the great
earthquake of 1811. Taking the left hand branch, you are soon brought
to "Croghan's Hall," which is nine miles from the mouth, and is the
farthest point explored in that direction. The "Hall" is 50 or 60 feet
in diameter, and perhaps, thirty-five feet high, of a semi-circular
form. Fronting you as you enter, are massive stalactites, ten or
fifteen feet in length, attached to the rock, 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. I brought one away that resembles the
horns of the 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, 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 most likely be found by sounding the sides of the pit, if any
one had the courage to attempt the descent. We are far enough from
_terra supra_, and our dinner which we had left at the "Vineyard." We
hastened back to the Rocky Mountains, and took the branch which we
left at our right on emerging from the Cabinet. Pursuing the uneven
path for some distance, we reached "Serena's Arbor," which was
discovered but three months since, by our guide "Mat." The descent to
the Arbor seemed so perilous, from the position of the loose rocks
around, that several of the party would not venture. Those of us who
scrambled down regarded this as the crowning object of interest. The
"Arbor" is not more than twelve feet in diameter, and of about the
same 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. Folds or blades of stalactitic matter
hang like drapery around the sides, reaching half way to the floor;
and opposite the door, a canopy of stone projects, elegantly
ornamented, as if it were the resting-place of a fairy bride. Every
thing seemed fresh and new; indeed, the invisible architect has not
quite finished this master-piece; for you can see the pure water,
trickling down its tiny channels and perfecting the delicate points of
some of the stalactites. Victoria, with all her splendor, has not in
Windsor Castle, so beautiful an apartment as "Serena's Arbor."

Such is the description of Cleveland's Avenue, as given by this
clerical gentleman. It is perfectly graphic, and corresponds with all
the glowing accounts I have read of this famous place. Exquisitely
beautiful and rare as are the formations in this avenue, it will soon
be, I fear, like the Grotto of Pensico--shorn of its beauties. Many a
little Miss, to decorate her centre table or boudoir, and many a
thoughtless dandy to present a specimen to his lady fair, have broken
from the walls (regardless of the published rules prohibiting it,)
those lovely productions of the Almighty, which required ages to
perfect; thus destroying in a moment the work of centuries. These
beautiful and gorgeous formations were encrusted on the walls by the
hands of our Maker, and who so impious as to desecrate them--to tear
them from their place? there they are, all lovely and beautiful, and
there they ought to remain, _untouched_ by the hands of man, for the
admiration and wonder of all future ages. If the comparatively small
cave of Adelburg which belongs to the Emperor of Austria, be placed
for the preservation of its formations under the protecting care of
the government [Transcriber's note: sic] (as is the case,) what ought
not to be done to preserve the mineralogical treasures, in this great
Cave of America, and especially in Cleveland's Cabinet, which are
worth more than all the caves in Europe, indeed of the world, so far
as our knowledge of caverns extends.

Returning from Serena's Arbor, we passed on our left the mouth of an
avenue more than three miles long, lofty and wide, and at its
termination there is a hall, which in the opinion of the guide is
larger than any other in the Cave. It is as yet without a name.
Equidistant from the commencement and the termination of Cleveland's
Avenue, is a huge rock, nearly circular, flat on the top and three
feet high. This is the "_dining table_." More than one hundred persons
could be seated around this table; on it the guide arranged our
dinner, and we luxuriated on "flesh and fowl" and "choice old sherry."
Never did a set of fellows enjoy dinner more than we did ours. Our
friend B. was perfectly at his ease and happy; and, in the exuberance
of his spirits, proposed the following toast:

    "Prosperity to the subterranean territory of Cimmeria; large
    enough, if not populous enough, for admission into the Union as
    an independent State."

We emptied our glasses and gave nine hearty cheers in honor of the
sentiment. A proposition was made to adjourn, but B. was not inclined
to locomotion, and opposed it with great warmth, insisting that it was
too soon to move after such a dinner, and that a state of rest was
absolutely essential to healthy digestion. We had much argument on the
motion to adjourn; when our sagacious guide Stephen, with a meaning
look interposed, saying "we had as well be going, for the river might
take a rise and shut us up here." "What!" exclaimed B. in utter
consternation, and with a start, literally bouncing from his seat,
cried aloud "Let's be off!" at the same time suiting the action to the
word. In a second we were all in motion, and hurrying past beautiful
incrustations, through galleries long and tortuous, down one hill and
up another, (poor B. puffing and blowing, and all the while exclaiming
against the _terrible_ length and ruggedness of the way,) we at last
reached the Echo, which we found to our great relief had _not risen_.
It seems, the guide had used this stratagem for our own advantage, to
break off our banquet, lest it trenched too far upon the night. We
were too happy in having our fears relieved, to fall out with him. On
our homeward bound passage over the rivers, our admiration was rather
increased than diminished. The death-like stillness! the awful
silence! the wild grandeur and sublimity of the scene, tranquilizing
the feeling and disposing to pensive musings and quiet contemplation;
on a sudden a pistol is fired--a tremendous report ensues--its echoes
are heard reverberating from wall to wall, in caves far away, like the
low murmuring sound of distant thunder--the spell of silence and deep
reverie is broken--we become roused and animated, and the mighty
cavern resounds with our song. We believe every one will, under
similar circumstances, experience this sudden transition from pensive
musings to joyous hilarity. Leaving the rivers, we hastened onward to
the outlet to the upper world. Far ahead we perceive the first
_dawnings of day_, shining with a silvery pallid hue on the walls, and
increasing in brightness as we advance, until it bursts forth in all
the golden rays and glorious effulgence of the setting sun. This
_parting_ scene is lovely and interesting. We bid adieu to the "Great
Monarch of Caves." We here terminate our subterranean tour. Standing
on the grassy terrace above, we inhale the cool, pure air, and take a
last look at the "great Wonder of Wonders!" To all we would say "go
and see--explore the greatest of the Almighty's subterranean works."
No description can give you an idea of it--neither can inspection of
other caves; it is "the Monarch of Caves!" none that have ever been
measured can at all compare with it, in extent, in grandeur, in wild,
solemn, serene, unadorned majesty; it stands entirely alone.--"It has
no brother; it has no brother."

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