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Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 6, page 135, September 30, 1853

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Identifier: DX04153266

Title: Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 6, page 135, September 30, 1853

Description: Describes a visit to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.

Transcription:

light it burns, dancing on the fluted rock screen, the jagged cliffs and boulders below, the fearful gulf sloping sheer, straight downwards from where we gaze, all eye, awe, and admiration. From Shelby’s dome, above, to the bottom abyss ‘tis 160 feet. Quitting this, we ascend a ladder and proceed towards the Bottomless Pit, which ends the range of Deserted Chambers, which are half a mile in length from their starting place.

Across this awful pit no human foot had ever sped, until a Georgian gentleman, and Stephen [Bishop], by means of a ladder crossed the black chasm, twenty feet in width, and over two hundred in depth. A bridge with stout handrail from an outstretching point now gives easier access, and although it creaks and vibrates is safe enough. Paper saturated with oil is ignited and dropped flickering down; and one’s hair bristles with horror as lower, lower down it falls, till a faint sparkle in the mirk midnight brooding below shows where it has alit. Ugh! what a fall ! To go crashing down there, out of Life and Hope and Love! — Albeit styled Bottomless, it is 120 feet from the bridge level. / The bridge being crossed, we speed along a devious passage for a space; and here, again two routes present themselves. Deciding we entered, crouching low, the Valley of Humility, past the Scotchman’s trap, (a huge Slab as if placed for capturing, so called after Donaldson:) through a sand embankment. into the Winding Way, or Fat Man’s Misery. ‘Tis a low, serpentine passage won through a winding cave perhaps a hundred feet long, and scarcely a foot and half wide. Heaven knows what pre-Adamite days witnessed all these awful caves. How they must have rushed, roared and surged in the darkness! Emerging with no small satisfaction into Great Relief Hall, there to stand upright again, in its ample space we turn to the right, making for River Hall, at a hundred yards distance. Here anon we spy the [word crossed out] and following the [word crossed out] reach Bacon Chamber, the low, spacious ceiling of which is all covered with

Rights: NoC-US

Place:

Dates: 1853-09-30

Type(s): Diary
Page

Maker/Creator: Gunn, Thomas Butler, 1826-1903

Subjects: Diaries
Mammoth Cave (Ky.)
Travel
Caves
Nature

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