Mammoth Cave In Edmonson County

by Martha Grassham Purcell

In Edmonson County, near Green River, was discovered in 1809, by a Mr. Hutchins, while in pursuit of a wounded bear, that matchless subterranean palace,—the Mammoth Cave.

It consists, not of one chamber, but of many magnificent rooms, winding avenues, towering domes, bottomless pits, picturesque cataracts, mystic rivers, gloomy seas, and crystal lakes, on five different levels. Geologists agree that this immense cavern was carved out of the limestone ages ago, by both the mechanical and chemical action of the water. Viewing the huge columns that have been formed by depositing the almost infinitesimal amount of lime dissolved from the rock, one stands in awe at the thought of the great span of time required for this marvelous work.

A view in the Mammoth Cave.

A view in the Mammoth Cave.

Here no ray of sunshine lights up the darkness; here no sound breaks the silence; here no seasons come and go; here no living creature—save the torpid bat, the sluggish lizard, the silent cricket, the shy rabbit-like rat, and eyeless fish—exists.

Among the many picturesque spots in this cave are the Bridal Altar, formed of several pillars grouped into arches; the Old Arm Chair, in which Jenny Lind once sat and sang; the Giant's Coffin, a massive stone, forty feet long, twenty feet wide, and nine feet thick, that fell, ages ago, from above; Audubon Avenue; the Bat Chamber, where thousands of bats spend the winter clinging to the ceiling, in most places smooth and white as if made by a master hand; the Devil's Arm Chair, a large stalagmite in which is a comfortable seat; Napoleon's Breast Works; Lover's Leap, and Gatewood's Dining Table; Fat Man's Misery, River Hall, and Bacon Chamber, the last looking like a part of a pork-packing house; the Dead Sea, the Corkscrew, the Holy Sepulcher, Martha Washington's Statue, Shelby's Dome; the rivers Lethe, Echo, and Styx; and last the Star Chamber, sixty feet wide, seventy feet high, and four hundred feet long. Here the guide leaves you in absolute darkness for a while, until from his vantage ground he so illuminates the high ceiling that when you look upward, the heavens seem studded with stars; a comet with its blazing tail appears, clouds cross over, midnight with its utter darkness comes, and finally day begins to dawn.