News Release

Black History Month Programs at Mammoth Cave National Park

Black and white photo of two men sitting on a grassy hillside next to a cave entrance.
Mat and Nick Bransford sit on a hillside next to the Historic Entrance in the mid 1800s.

From the Mammoth Cave National Park Curatorial Collection

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News Release Date: January 25, 2024

Contact: Molly Schroer, 270-7580-2192

MAMMOTH CAVE, KY. – To commemorate Black History Month, Mammoth Cave National Park will present a series of ranger-led talks, guided walks, and off-site presentations that highlight contributions of African Americans to the tourism, exploration, and development of Mammoth Cave. Black History Month activities will take place throughout February, and all are free and open to the public.

Black History Month Programs

Ranger-led Talks

Ranger-led talks will take place daily at the park’s visitor center and will cover the long history of African Americans at Mammoth Cave. Topics will change daily but will include the early 1800s saltpeter mining operation, stories of early African American cave guides and explorers, and the African American Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp which helped to develop the roads, trails, and cave tour routes of the national park in the 1930s.  

Ranger-led Walks

Walk with a ranger to the Bransford Family Cemetery to learn about five generations of the Bransford family who guided at Mammoth Cave for over 150 years. Mat Bransford was one of the first enslaved African American guides brought to the cave to begin touring and exploration in the early 1800s. Walk participants will caravan by vehicle from the visitor center to the Bransford Cemetery Trailhead to begin the program. The walking distance to the cemetery is around one quarter mile on a dirt path and the program is expected to last around two hours. This ranger-led walk will be cancelled in the event of inclement weather.

Special Evening Presentations

February 1 at 5:00 p.m. (CST)– More than a Cave Guide

  • Join Ranger Chris at the Bon Air branch of the Louisville Free Public Library in Louisville, KY to discover the history of legendary African American cave guides and explorers, including Stephen Bishop, who discovered some of the most well-known passages and rooms of Mammoth Cave over 150 years ago. For more information, contact the Bon Air branch of the Louisville Free Public Library at (502) 574-1795.

February 22 at 6:00 p.m. (CST) – Pride and Resilience: The Bransford Summer Resort – A Legacy of African American Hospitality at Mammoth Cave

  • Join Ranger Quentin for a special presentation at the South Central Kentucky Cultural Center’s “Museum of the Barrens” in Glasgow, KY. Hear the history of the Bransford Summer Resort, owned and operated by Matt and Zemmie Bransford during the 1920s-1930s, and discover the history of their hotel that was a gateway for African Americans visiting the great Mammoth Cave of Kentucky. For more information, contact the cultural center at (270) 651-9792.

For a complete schedule of events and program descriptions, visit our Black History Month website.

Visit the park’s website to learn more about African American History at Mammoth Cave.

Last updated: January 25, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 7
Mammoth Cave, KY 42259-0007


270 758-2180

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