Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 532 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: it!
MAMMOTH CAVE, a cave in Edmondson county, Kentucky, U.S.A., 370 14' N. lat. and 86° 12' W. long., by rail 85 M. S,S.W. of Louisville. Steamboats run from the mouth of the Green river, near Evansville, Indiana, to the Mammoth Cave landing, The cave is usually said to have been discovered, in 1809, by a hunter named Hutchins; but the county records, as early as 2797, fixed its entrance as the landmark for a piece of real estate. Its mouth is in a forest ravine, 194 ft. above Green river and 600 ft. above the sea. This aperture is not the original mouth, the latter being a chasm a quarter of a mile north of it, and leading into what is known as Dixon's cave. The two portions are not now connected, though persons in one can make themselves heard by those in the other. The cavernous limestone of Kentucky covers an area of 8000 sq. m., is massive and homogeneous, and belongs to the Subcarboniferous period. It shows few traces of dynamic disturbance, but has been carved, mainly by erosion since the Miocene epoch, into many caverns, of which the Mammoth Cave is the largest. The natural arch that admits one to Mammoth Cave has a span of 70 ft., and from a ledge above it a cascade leaps 59 ft. to the rocks below, where it disappears. A flight of stone steps leads the way down to a narrow passage; through which the air rushes with vio lence, outward in summer and inward in winter. The temperature of the cave is uniformly 54° F. through-out the year, and the atmosphere is both chemically and optically of singular purity. While the lower levels are moist from the large pools and rivers that have secret connexion with Green river, the upper galleries are extremely dry. These conditions led at one time to the erection of thirteen cottages at a point about 1 m. underground, for the use of invalids, especially consumptives. The experiment failed, and only two cottages now remain as curiosities. The Main Cave, from 40 to 300 ft. wide and from 35 to 125 ft. high, has several vast rooms, e.g. the Rotunda, where are the ruins of the old saltpetre works; the Star Chamber, where the protrusion of white crystals through a coating of the black oxide of manganese creates an optical illusion of great beauty; the Chief City, where an area of 2 acres is covered by a vault 125 ft. high, and the floor is strewn with rocky fragments, among which are found numerous half-burnt torches made of caries, and other signs of prehistoric occupancy. Two skeletons were exhumed near the (From Tilesius.) Rotunda; but few other bones of any description have been found. The so-called Mammoth Cave " mummies " (i.e. bodies kept by being inhumed in nitrous earth), with accompanying utensils, ornaments, braided sandals and other relics, were found in Short and Salt Caves near by, and removed to Mammoth Cave for exhibition. The Main Cave, which abruptly ends 4 M. from the entrance, is joined by winding passages, with spacious galleries on different levels; and, although the diameter of the area of the whole cavern is less than xo m., the conbined length of all accessible avenues is supposed to be about 150 M. The chief points of interest are arranged along two lines of exploration, besides which there are certain side excursions.and was formerly regarded as the finest room in the cavern. Others admire more the Mammoth Dome, at the termination of Spark's Avenue, where a cataract falls from a height of 150 ft. amid walls wonderfully draped with stalactitic tapestry. The Egyptian Temple, which is a continuation of the Mammoth Dome, contains six massive columns, two of them quite perfect and 8o ft. high and 25 ft. in diameter. The combined length of these contiguous chambers is 400 ft. By a crevice above they are connected with an arm of Audubon's Avenue. Lucy's Dome, one of the group of Jessup Domes, is supposed to be the loftiest of all these vertical shafts. A pit called the" Maelstrom," in Croghan's Hall, is the spot most remote from the mouth of INDEX .. The Iron Cate O. Angel... Cestta' • 'Kentucky Narrow 41. Scotch Tap t. 'Kentucky Cill/k and thr 4 . Fat Matra Misery. Cbncc wa 0. bandit Nall 4. TM Church A6. Bri9B's AwmH. ' 1. Booth. A.nph/fhlotre 67. Charters Coma 6 Standing Rocks 48. Wyatt. Coffees 7 60008 Arch J9 Bd/altoed Rock I. Cietd's Co/Jand Canes fo The Dead See Cate"_ f 1. Chest's Casoads y Acute Angle and Cottages D. Jame. landing to Proctor's Arcade 1a. C.o.d. Nall 0. Wright's Rotunda 73. Serpent Nall v NY Cataiaeta k•Valley-way '3 Fairy Grotto '4. SkCatheruw City 1i Symmei Pit 16. luau.* 's 17. Register Nall tan. &Ida1 Altar t9.7,. Arm Chair ...Lover'. leap at. Elba. Creak. .a Napoleon'. Dater a} Wilson's Way h- take Purity .1. Annette tame tb. Leis Cistern a7 Wooden Bowl Roam se. The Olt Way Found .9, Way to Pits and .Sane. o. Side Saddle Pit 0' BOttom/ew At 7.. Cawrrd Pd M. Scylla 14. Cherybdis 77. Putnam's Cabinet 77. Dismal Hollow 76. Darnall's Way 78 Clark's Ace..,. 77. Ariadn'a Grotto 79 HeHnn'a Anemic 18. Short cut from Batto.nlass' Ib. Nicholson'. Awnur Pit to Gori g's!Iona 8t. Boone Amrua 79 Rawlle, 8 Nall 8.. Pinson's Pass 09. Gram! Crossing 6,i. ha^ukin's Way 4t. Pineapple Bush 'roto000 LW1I Table of approximate distances' To the Kentucky CliffsH abut 38o yds. ,, Standing Rocks 647 Giant's Coffin e 87S . . Star Ch a m h e r 150 ;y, ON)ma Thule N I 6945 .. Angelica's Grotto 1937 .,. Angelica's Grotto 19f] Mammoth 0961e,, 1870 '.,, Echo Ricer (Ail also .. .End afEchoRl erfestl two ~. a Jlss0P DomR ..' Mary'. V.heyard 6000 ,, .. Nawy'a Cathedral Obmse/eaU n p.0o :. e MaNst..m „...« A 'bap .. 31. The Cr.., tester. .- 36. Vale of Flowers 37. The Jessup Danea 18 Ole Boers Concert Bap' 19. Fly Chamber 60. SANP Shelter 61. Carrion's Duna 6s. Black Hole of Chicane 6y Parrish's Path 63. Crypt of Jerk 6,. Washington Noll 66. S.0.. Ball Roam 67. Floral Cross 6B. Orpha'e Carden-49.Wisdom i Path 7a Paradise 7. Toe's Grotto 72. Flar.'s Carden 71 Vale of Diamond A. .NM's Nall 7i Cherlolt'a Grotto 76. Scoot.'s Arbor
End of Article: MAMMOTH CAVE
MAMMOTH (0. Russ. mammot, mod. mamant; the Tatar wo...

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.