Mammoth Cave

Black History Month 2024

Black and white photo showing a wooden cabin with family of six people sitting on the front doorstoop.
Civil War veteran and Mammoth Cave guide William Garvin sits on his front porch with his family during the mid 1800s.

Photo from the Mammoth Cave National Park Curatorial Collection

In honor of Black History Month, Mammoth Cave National Park will present ranger led talks, guided walks, and two special off-site evening programs that will focus on the legacy of African Americans at Mammoth Cave. All events are free and open to the public with no reservations required.

African American Contributions to Mammoth Cave

African Americans have played a pivotal role to the tourism, exploration, mapping, and development of Mammoth Cave throughout its over 200-year modern history. Their contributions may not always been obvious to those who first visit the park, but their impact reaches everyone who enters and embarks on a cave tour.

Dive deeper into African American History at Mammoth Cave.


Black History Month Program Descriptions

For a complete schedule of planned presentations, see the event calendar at the bottom of the page below.

Coffee with a Ranger

Start your day at Mammoth Cave by having coffee with a ranger! Join a ranger as they answer your questions about the caves, plants, animals, area information, or whatever interests you about Mammoth Cave National Park. Discover how you can best enjoy your visit from a park expert.
Meet inside the lobby of the Lodge at Mammoth Cave. 10 minutes

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 cover the early 1800s saltpeter mining operation, stories of early African American cave guides and explorers, and the all 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.

Meet at the visitor center. 30 min.

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. They were some of the first enslaved African American guides brought to the park to begin touring and exploration. 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.

Meet at the front of the visitor center. This ranger-led walk will be cancelled in the event of inclement weather. 2 hours.

Historic black and white photograph of man in a coat carrying a lantern in front of a cave entrance. The words "Mr. M.W. Bransford Guide of 3rd Generation, prop. of Bransford's Resort, Mammoth Cave, KY" are written at the bottom.
Matt Bransford was the 3rd generation of the Bransford Family to guide at Mammoth Cave. He and his wife, Zemmie, owned and operated the Bransford Summer Resort for African Americans traveling to Mammoth Cave in the 1920s and 1930s.

From the Mammoth Cave National Park Curatorial Collection

Special Evening Presentations

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

Join us 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. 1 hour

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 us 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. 1 hour

For more information, contact the cultural center at (270) 651-9792.


Program Schedule

Select the date from the event calendar below to see what ranger-led programs are offered during your visit to Mammoth Cave National Park.


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Last updated: January 19, 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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