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Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 6, page 140, October 1, 1853

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Identifier: DX04157824

Title: Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 6, page 140, October 1, 1853

Description: Describes a visit to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.


on the other side of Purgatory, a rough rock passage which we might have reached by keeping on, the exploration might still have been effected. But the boats were visibly here, and we couldn’t have got one across to Echo River. So my exploration had yet to be deferred. We freed the submerged boat with some difficulty, and then after some gettings out on mud banks in the Great Walk, returned, and disembarked. The day was yet young and I therefore determined if barred access to the subterranean world beyond these black pools, to explore more fully on the other side. So to the Bottomless Pit we sped, this time issuing at an opening into it some distance below the former one. Here, sitting on a monstrous projecting rock chaos, the black void below did we converse and smoke sociably, Stephen [Bishop] romancing out a little touching his discoveries, risks and adventures; how he had clambered, descended, and explored, being veritably the Columbus of the Cave. Anon he fell to renting and rummaging at a hole in the rock floor, and telling me how there were fearful pits and hollows of unknown and unascertainable depths on every side of us, he with attentive, earnest look, pitched a stone downwards. “Listen!” said he — “did you hear how far it went?” “About five feet, I should say!” quoth I. He attempted denial, and repeated the experiment again and again, but I was still stubborn in speaking my conviction. So with more routing the crevice was at length cleared of the loose stones which had blockaded it, and half-burying his body in the essay he managed to pitch a stone in. In the dead silence I listened intensely, and heard it go knock! knock in its progress downwards, decreasing in sound at each leap, till it had passed out of hearing, nor yet reached the bottom of that awful fissure, which might have reached to the earth’s centre for aught I knew. ‘Twas a very successful bit of the horrible, — knowing the whilst that you were over this pit, on certain rock masses which had, earthquake shaken, tumbled into their present condition. There is also a winding tortuous avenue by which you can get to the bottom of the Bottom

Rights: NoC-US


Dates: 1853-10-01

Type(s): Diary

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

Subjects: Diaries
Mammoth Cave (Ky.)
African Americans
Boats and boating


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