Tuesday, September 13, 2011

An Observation at Mammoth Cave

Over the summer, we visited Mammoth Cave, in Kentucky.  
Mammoth Cave, as it's name suggests is giant.  It is with world's largest cave system by far, and they are still discovering other branches and making new maps to record recent discoveries. 

An interesting thing about the place is that it has been open for tours since the 1840's.  Hard to imagine.  Wealthy North Easterners  traveled  by stage coach for months to visit the place.  There was a small retreat type hotel, but the draw was the cave.  

The property above ground at the time was owned privately, and the property owners would have their slaves give tours.  Some of the slaves became known for their excellent tours and knowledge of the cave and it's many underground passageways.Some of these slaves earned enough money in tips to buy their freedom.
 Throughout the older part of the cave, there is "graffiti" left by these early explorers.  The slaves hoped to earn tips by allowing their guests to write on the walls and ceilings of the cave with candle smoke ( I think candles were made with fat at the time, so they were a bit smokier than ours today).

 What struck me most was the immaculate penmanship.  Beautifully formed letters in different fonts even!  The   skill of handwriting is truly lost.  I can tell you that my kids (all of them) can type better and faster than they can write.  This saddens me somehow.  It makes the writing from the 1800's look like art.
Here's the crew outside, peeling off their jackets.  It was 90 degrees that day, and it's always 60 something in the cave.

1 comment:

Deanna said...

It's hard to believe that the writing is still there and in such good condition! What a great trip!