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Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 6, page 141, October 1, 1853

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Identifier: DX04158735

Title: Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 6, page 141, October 1, 1853

Description: Describes a visit to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.


less Pit, the which I’m now sorry I did’nt do. Upwards of an hour thus spent, we ascended to the Bridge, and crossing it, entered Penseco Avenue. Through Wild Hall, (with the gypsum-incrusted ceiling preceding it;) Snow Ball Arch, some 10 feet wide, 8 high, with small ball like incrustations dependant from its roof, to the Great Crossings. Here two galleries intersect in right Angles, and the stone strata connecting the upper galleries having fallen downwards, a Bengal light being fired all around looks chastically, savagely grand. (I’m wrong in stating they cross at right angles — in plan these galleries represent a figure 8.) On proceeding we find a region of Stalagmites and Stalactites, (the former having fallen on and uprisen from the floor, the latter still dependant.) Pine Apple Bush, and the Devils Pulpit, the names of which explain their character are here. Some of the stalag and stalactites are so crystalized as to be almost pure alabaster, and lit up by the lamp glare held behind them, look beautiful. Angelica’s Grottos (no wise resembling the retreat of Ariosto’s lovers) ends this Avenue, which is about a mile in length from the bridge over the Bottomless Pit. Again we retrace our steps, for Gothic Avenue, branching off from the Main Cave, at about half a mile from the entrance, is yet to be visited. Up a flight of steps into wide passageway, which pursued for a space brings us into the Haunted Chambers, so called from an incident here occurring during the Salt-petre making time. A young fellow getting lost, and here remaining for some time, got so horribly affrighted that on the appearance of his negro comrades with torches for his rescue, he incontinently imagined that he was already defunct and in hell, and fiends approaching to his torment. In this place Indian mummies have been found, one with the highly ornamented garniture, skins, bark woven articles, snake skins, eagle’s claws and I wot now how much more Indian finery. On-speeding, we pass stalactites, one if stricken sounding like to a bell’s note, (broken heretofore by a clamor-loving Pensylvanian;) and our footsteps re-echoing hollowly

Rights: NoC-US


Dates: 1853-10-01

Type(s): Diary

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

Subjects: Diaries
Mammoth Cave (Ky.)
African Americans
Indians of North America


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