50th Anniversary of the 1972 Connection

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A man wearing red coveralls standing in a pool of water in a large cave passage.
Water from the Echo River surrounds Minnehaha Island, the site of the famed 1972 Flint Ridge-Mammoth Cave connection.

NPS Photo/ Jackie Wheet and Dave Bunnell

September 9, 2022, marks the 50th Anniversary of the Flint Ridge-Mammoth Cave Connection that pushed Mammoth Cave to earn the title of The Longest Cave in the World. Mammoth Cave National Park in partnership with the Cave Research Foundation (CRF) will be hosting events and a special cave tour to celebrate the historic milestone.

 
 

Schedule of Events

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Mammoth Cave Through the Years Display

8:00am to 6:30pm in the Mammoth Cave Visitor Center exhibit area.
Explore a series of historic maps showing the exploration and mapping of Mammoth Cave through time. Displayed maps include versions of the Eye-draught Map (c.1809), Lee Map (1835), Bishop Map (1842), Kaemper Map (1908), Flint Ridge Folio (CRF 1966), as well as maps showing the 1972 connection route.

Junior Ranger Activities

Calling All Cavers! Come learn what it takes to explore the longest cave in the world! Hands on, Ranger-led activities will take place in the Mammoth Cave Picnic Area near the enclosed picnic shelter. In the case of inclement weather, all activities will be held inside the enclosed shelter.

9:00am and 3:00pm Let’s Get Crawling!
See if you have what it takes to crawl your way through a cave. A special crawling box will test your skills and let you try your hand at squeezing through some tight spaces.

11:00am How Does a Cave Form?
Ever wonder how a cave develops? Join us for a hands-on activity to learn about why Mammoth Cave is the longest cave system in the world.

1:00pm Get Out the Map.
See how we use tools like a compass to map new sections of Mammoth Cave.

 

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Mammoth Cave Through the Years Display

8:00am to 6:30pm in the Mammoth Cave Visitor Center exhibit area.
Explore a series of historic maps showing the exploration and mapping of Mammoth Cave through time. Displayed maps include versions of the Eye-draught Map (c.1809), Lee Map (1835), Bishop Map (1842), Kaemper Map (1908), Flint Ridge Folio (CRF 1966), as well as maps showing the 1972 connection route.

National Cave Museum Open to Public

9:00am to 4:00pm at the National Cave Museum near Diamond Caverns.
The National Cave Museum atrium will be open to the public at no charge. On display will be the rock that pinned Floyd Collins, an original Mammoth Cave Saltpeter vat, the Mammoth Cave Stagecoach, a selection of early Mammoth Cave Guidebooks, and other items relating to caves throughout the world. Museum volunteers will be on hand to discuss the museum pieces and will make available other items of interest as requested. The Museum is located near Diamond Caverns in Park City, Kentucky at Exit 48 – I-65.

See the Mammoth Cave Map

10:00am to 2:00pm at Caverna High School Gymnasium in Hart County, KY.
A large-scale map of the entire Mammoth Cave system has been printed at a 1 inch = 100 feet scale and will be on display to the public at the Caverna High School Gymnasium. The map is about the size of a basketball court, and visitors will be able to walk around on the map to see how cave passages relate to each other. Several CRF members will be onsite to discuss the map and cave with those interested. Caverna High School is located at 2276 S Dixie Street, Horse Cave, KY 42749.

Evening Program

7:00pm at the Mammoth Cave Ampitheater.
"It Happened Overnight: The Longest Cave in the World.”
Discover the story of a group of cavers in 1972 that made history and learn about the contuned exploration and mapping efforts at Mammoth Cave National Park.

 

Friday, September 9, 2022

Mammoth Cave Through the Years Display

8:00am to 6:30pm in the Mammoth Cave Visitor Center exhibit area.
Explore a series of historic maps showing the exploration and mapping of Mammoth Cave through time. Displayed maps include versions of the Eye-draught Map (c.1809), Lee Map (1835), Bishop Map (1842), Kaemper Map (1908), Flint Ridge Folio (CRF 1966), as well as maps showing the 1972 connection route.

National Cave Museum Open to Public

9:00am to 4:00pm at the National Cave Museum near Diamond Caverns.
The National Cave Museum atrium will be open to the public at no charge. On display will be the rock that pinned Floyd Collins, an original Mammoth Cave Saltpeter vat, the Mammoth Cave Stagecoach, a selection of early Mammoth Cave Guidebooks, and other items relating to caves throughout the world. Museum volunteers will be on hand to discuss the museum pieces and will make available other items of interest as requested. The Museum is located near Diamond Caverns in Park City, Kentucky at Exit 48 – I-65.

50th Anniversary Connection Cave Tour

8:30am and 1:45pm. This guided tour to the famous connection site of Minnehaha Island will be led by Mammoth Cave Rangers and members of the Cave Research Foundation. Advance cave tour tickets will go on sale Monday, August 1, 2022. Full tour description and ticket information is available below.

See the Mammoth Cave Map

10:00am to 2:00pm at Caverna High School Gymnasium in Hart County, KY
A large-scale map of the entire Mammoth Cave system printed at a 1 inch = 100 feet scale will be on display to the public at the Caverna Highschool Gymnasium. The map is about the size of a basketball court, and visitors will be able to walk around on the map to see how cave passages relate to each other. Several CRF members will be onsite to discuss the map and cave with those interested. Caverna Highschool is located at 2276 S Dixie Street, Horse Cave, KY 42749.

Evening Program

7:00pm at the Mammoth Cave Ampitheater.
"Fireside Chat with the Cave Research Foundation”
Join Rangers and several members of the Cave Research Foundation to dicuss the obstacles they overcame as they journeyed through Kentucky's underground trying to connect two cave systems into one. .

 

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Mammoth Cave Through the Years Display

8:00am to 6:30pm in the Mammoth Cave Visitor Center exhibit area.
Explore a series of historic maps showing the exploration and mapping of Mammoth Cave through time. Displayed maps include versions of the Eye-draught Map (c.1809), Lee Map (1835), Bishop Map (1842), Kaemper Map (1908), Flint Ridge Folio (CRF 1966), as well as maps showing the 1972 connection route.

50th Anniversary Connection Cave Tour

8:30am and 1:45pm. This guided tour to the famous connection site of Minnehaha Island will be led by Mammoth Cave Rangers and members of the Cave Research Foundation. Advance cave tour tickets will go on sale Monday, August 1, 2022. Full tour description and ticket information is available below.

Evening Program

7:00pm at the Mammoth Cave Ampitheater.

“Modern Exploration of Mammoth Cave: 1941 to Present”
Did you know that when Mammoth Cave became a national park in 1941 that the cave was only mapped to be about 45 miles? Since the formation of the national park, organizations like the Cave Research Foundation have surveyed the caves of south-central Kentucky and have explored the connections that make Mammoth Cave now the longest cave in the world at 420 miles. Join a park ranger to hear stories and learn about these historic Mammoth Cave expeditions.

 

50th Anniversary Connection Cave Tour Description

This special tour is being offered for two-days only during the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the connection of the Flint Ridge Cave System and Mammoth Cave System which created the world's longest cave: Mammoth Cave. The trip will concentrate on the history of the exploration of the Mammoth Cave System and will culminate in seeing where the Cave Research Foundation (CRF) team made the historic connection on September 9, 1972. Several CRF cavers will assist on the tour and will share stories of exploration and the connection effort.

The tour is a somewhat strenuous 4-hour tour along old tour trail and is not accessible. The trail is dirt and rock that is uneven and slick in many places. There are a few areas where you must travel over small loose rocks. The total hike is 3 miles and includes many short hills to climb and muddy areas which make it physically demanding. There will be no crawling, but you must be able to move quickly and constantly throughout the trip. The tour will stop to discuss different areas of the cave, but there are no official breaks. Most of the tour trail will not have electrical lighting.

Tickets are limited to two tickets per Recreation.gov transaction and/or email address. Tour participants must be at least 16 years of age.

Duration: 4 hours
Distance: 3 miles (4.8 km)
Total Stairs: 30
Difficulty: Strenuous
Ages: 16 years and older.
Restrooms: Yes
Fees: $35 Adults, $28 Youth, $17.50 Senior Pass Holder, $17.50 Access Pass Holder.

 

Cave Tour Tickets

Advance cave tour tickets for the 50th Anniversary Connection Cave Tour will go on sale Monday, August 1, 2022.

Visit Recreation.gov to Buy Tickets
 
A black and white photo of six cavers posing for a photo.

Exploring the World's Longest Known Cave

In 1972 a group of six cave explorers discovered the missing connection to make Mammoth Cave the world's longest cave system.

A cave researcher takes a measurement in the cave.

Cave Mapping

Discover how maps of the worlds longest cave are made.

Last updated: August 4, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

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

Phone:

270 758-2180

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