TwHP Lessons

Mammoth Cave:
Its Explorers, Miners,
Archeologists, and Visitors

[Cover photo] Historic entrance to Mammoth Cave.
(Mammoth Cave National Park)

Along the banks of the winding Green River, newly fallen leaves rustle as a man walks from his camp toward the high bluffs. Pausing to gaze back into the deep river valley and then upward into the sunlight sparkling on the crimson and golden leaves still clinging to their summer hosts, he thinks about the great darkness that lies just ahead beneath the forest floor. He has journeyed there many times since he was a young man. Around campfires he often listened to the stories of the old people who journeyed into the darkness. Now he himself is old. Perhaps this winter he will tell his own tales about the great cave that opens directly beneath his feet.

The mysterious darkness of Mammoth Cave in southwestern Kentucky has both lured travelers to enter and warned them to stay away. Some entered and never returned. Most entered and came back to tell of their experiences in the dark, silent, and mysterious cave. From the dawn of time visitors have been awestruck by the cave’s size and its rugged beauty.


About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
 1. Mammoth Cave National Park
 and surrounding region

 2. Mammoth Cave, 1845
 3. Modern map of Mammoth Cave

Determining the Facts: Readings
 1. The First Explorers
 2. Mammoth Cave Becomes
 a World-Famous Attraction

 3. For Future Generations

Visual Evidence: Images
 1. Cross section through Mammoth Cave
 2. Saltpeter mining operation
 3. Modern view of Green River Valley
 4. Farm field, c. 1935
 5. Visitors pose with their guide, c. 1900
 6. Modern day visitors in a cave passageway

Putting It All Together: Activities
 1. Touring Mammoth Cave
 2. Caring for Local Resources
 3. Luring the Public to a Special Place

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Mammoth Cave National Park

This lesson is based on Mammoth Cave National Park, one of the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.



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