Search Our New Beta Online Collections!

Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 6, page 138, September 30, 1853

<< Back to search results

View this document

From collection:Part of:

Identifier: DX04156000

Title: Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 6, page 138, September 30, 1853

Description: Describes a visit to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.


rock walls on either side of which do not (you fancy) reach sheer up to the ceiling which, like a midnight firmament seen from the depths of a ravine, broods over you. But it is but that the ribbed rocks are of a lighter hue than the gypsum covered roof, where small and multitudinous bits having dropped off have besprinkled this subterranean sky with innumerable stars. A more marvelous and perfect illusion can not be conceived. In thus describing it, I think of it as the reality of that which it is but the similitude. That solemn star-bespangled firmament may, for all the gazer knows, (as his back against the rock wall he stares upwards,) be at an immensity of distance overhead. Meantime, taking our lamps, Stephen [Bishop] crosses the hall, and disappears in an unseen cavity in the floor. Dimmer becomes the lamp glare, and as we gaze aloft, blackly passing athwart that solemn sky overhead goes a slow thunder cloud — Stephen’s hand over the lamps! Anon blackness rushes down upon us, overwhelming and overpowering, a darkness that may be felt, and thus we stand till a lamp down afar behind from the other end of the crevice passage which the guide has passed through. This “Star Chamber business” is perchance the very finest thing in the Mammoth Cave. On proceeding, over the rough loose stones, the Mackarel Ceiling and Floating Clouds overhead, we pass through the Banquet Hall. (Branching off here, unvisited by us, lie the Black Chambers, wild savage scenery, forming an avenue a mile and a half in length, then abruptly terminating.) And Solitary Cave, small but full of fine stalactites is also undisturbed, and I know not what other places hereabout. Salts, gypsum, quartz and ochre are hereby found. But we approach the end of the Main Cave, — 4 1/2 miles from its entrance. Passing a Cascade we are in the Chief City or Temple, a monstrous room, where standing on a great mountain of stones we may learn that ‘tis 900 feet long, 300 wide, and 100 in height. And now we turn backwards, to the gladsome day, and a hearty meal

Rights: NoC-US


Dates: 1853-09-30

Type(s): Diary

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

Subjects: Diaries
Mammoth Cave (Ky.)


| More

Disclaimer: We are working to create a web-based collection index. Information available through this website should be considered "draft only."