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Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 6, page 149, October 3, 1853

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Identifier: DX04166033

Title: Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 6, page 149, October 3, 1853

Description: Describes a visit to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.


accompanying us until we were safe on our way,) were presently on Lethe. He G Winding along, the black void above, and by the overhanging cliffs, rock-ils islets and promontories, we held our way. The first arch was now visible, but barely practicable, the Great Walk still half submerged, necessitating much jumping and even wading, and my boots were speedily filled with water. Echo River being reached in safety, Mr Miller and another attachй of the Hotel, who had accompanyed us, turned back. We, embarking in another boat held on, and another landing place being reached, Alfred intimated he was about to go under the Second arch, inquiring who wished to accompany him, and who would foot it through Purgatory. I preferred the watery way, as did Maurice Keene, one of [Oliver] Kellam’s Kentuckian born friends. So, crouching low under the black arch we glide, our sable boatman propelling us onwards by the light of our three lamps placed on the fire-plank; now issuing his paddle, now with hands upon the low ceiling as motive power. Low curving the arch bent over our squatting forms, to meet the dismal pool on either side, in the solid liquid blackness of which our lanthorn glare was redly reflected. The waters were scarcely a fingers length breadth from the gunwale of the boat, deep withal, no shore or projection visible. That was a solemnly passed five minutes, to crouch down with the pitiless rock pressing over you, and the horrible waters below, solid blackness before and behind, and to think of green trees and birds and bright sunlight high up over you, — as [Friedrich] Schiller has it —

“To think of light and Air above

Of Human Voices and Human Love”

Right glad was I to round to where the other twain awaited us, yet I would not willingly have missed that grisly ferry-path. Of the length of these subterranean rivers tis difficult to judge, so prone are you to imagine than then longer than they are. Lake Lethe, (Mr Miller is my authority,) is 150 yards at low water, when boats are kept at its entrance, and at the first Arch. In high water at the Second and Third, (where Purgatory and Et Echo River join)

Rights: NoC-US


Dates: 1853-10-03

Type(s): Diary

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

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


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