Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, day 2

We spent the day in Mammoth Cave National Park. We did the 2-hour Domes and Dripstones tour in the morning. In the afternoon, we did the 2-hour Historic tour. I guess if I had to choose, I'd recommend the Historic tour. I particularly liked the historical graffiti. The caves have been tourist attractions since the early 1800's. Before it was designated a national park in the early 1900's, visitors to Mammoth Cave were encouraged to scratch their names on the walls in the caves:
 We saw some with years attached as early as 1838. In the early days before they stopped using whale oil lamps, folks would spell their names and messages on the ceilings in soot from the lantern flames. Apparently in 1855, this person thought the ceiling of a cave 300 ft underground in rural Kentucky was a great place to promote their "Sax & Horn Band":
 Here are some more:
 I even spotted an "Albert" scratched into a wall:

 Graffiti aside, there were some beautiful limestone formations:

 
 And, whenever we exited a cave, we had to wash our feet. Several years ago the bat populations in these caves were decimated with the "white-nose fungus". The foot washing is meant to kill the fungus spoors on our shoes so that we don't track them into other uncontaminated caves that we might visit.
 We also hiked quite a bit on the surface. The whole area is dotted with large sink holes the funnel water into the caves below. Most of the surface hikes are meant to showcase these geologic features. Here is a shot of one of the walls of the sinkhole as we stood in the bottom:

On our drive out of the park we noticed this aptly named cemetary, "Little Hope", which could be read rather darkly depending on your philosophical outlook, haha:
 There were some folks in this cemetery born as early as the 1770's.

Tonight will be our last night in the tent. We're still camped at the KOA in Horse Cave, KY. Tomorrow it's on to Atlanta.