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Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park: Reflections

With a Foreword by Ronald R. Switzer
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 136
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  • Book Info
    Mammoth Cave National Park
    Book Description:

    Kentucky's Mammoth Cave National Park is home to the world's longest cave system, boasting over 350 miles of explored and mapped passageways. Geologists estimate that there could be many more miles of this vast subterranean world that remain unexplored. In addition to the renowned Mammoth Cave, the park also includes over 50,000 acres of hills, streams, and forests with nearly 70 miles of scenic trails. The Green River, which plays an integral role in the cave's ecosystem, winds through this impressive landscape. As an artist-in-residence at the park, nature photographer Raymond Klass was granted access to the cave and the surrounding wilderness. While living at the park, he took thousands of photographs of famous cave formations, such as Frozen Niagara and the Drapery Room, as well as scenery and wildlife not often seen by the general public. Mammoth Cave National Park: Reflections is a record of Klass's unique visual exploration of the above- and belowground ecosystems within the park. The book includes more than 100 dramatic full-color photographs, which are accompanied by Klass's commentary and extracts from the journal he kept while living and working in the park. Klass captures the sounds and sights of the vast underground world of the cave system. He describes flowstone and other mineral formations that adorn the underground labyrinth of tunnels, collapses, and pits. The walls and ceiling of the Gothic Avenue room bear hundreds of signatures written with candle smoke by visitors and tour guides before Mammoth Cave became a national park. Bits of cane reed torches used by Native Americans still lie next to the walls that were mined for gypsum in ages past. Underground streams and rivers wind through the darkest reaches, hundreds of feet below ground, before emerging outside the cave as springs. Mammoth Cave National Park captures the breathtaking beauty and extraordinary diversity of one of our most popular national parks.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-3336-2
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Ronald R. Switzer

    Mammoth Cave National Park contains some of the most sublime scenery on this continent. The celebrated geology of the park and the breathtaking natural beauty of its forests and rivers make it a place of awe and inspiration. Owing to these values, the park has a place of prominence in a system of national parks containing these and other icons that have sustained public interest for generations.

    The notion that Mammoth Cave and its environs are of inestimable worth to the nation as a place of renewal and recreation had its beginnings long before their establishment as a national park...

  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. First Impressions
    (pp. 1-18)

    Wide, high ridges push the horizon farther and farther out of reach. The forest and hills are a magnificent sight, but even more astounding is that hundreds of feet below there’s another world shrouded in absolute darkness. A cave system of incomprehensible length winds its way under these hills. It is the unique landscape aboveground that has led, over millions of years, to the creation of Mammoth Cave, the longest known cave system in the world. The landscape aboveground at Mammoth Cave National Park is as much a treasure as the giant forests of the Pacific Northwest. This is where...

  6. Exploring Deeper and Deeper
    (pp. 19-58)

    An eerie squeak resounds off solid limestone walls that disappear into the endless darkness. With a reassuring gesture, the guide leads our group through the environmentally sound gate that divides the aboveground and belowground portions of Mammoth Cave. Looking back, I can vaguely discern the shadows of others behind me, silhouetted against the blaring midday sun.

    In this unfamiliar environment, my senses strain to decipher the new surroundings. The sounds of footsteps resonate, the outcroppings of rock seem to pulsate, and the walls are striped with shadows and the orange-yellow glow of our lanterns, creating a maze of dark and...

  7. Sitting Quietly
    (pp. 59-82)

    Leaves crackle under my boots as I pause at a bend in the trail, glance down at the map, and dig into my back pocket for a compass. Reassured of the direction I’m hiking, I move due south toward the bed of First Creek. It’s late afternoon, and the low sun casts the long shadows of trees against the downward slope of the hill. I’ve heard rumors that up ahead are some of the most impressive cliffs in the park. Continuing down the hill, I reach a small stream, which I follow, hoping to find the cliffs. After following the...

  8. The Whole of the Forest
    (pp. 83-96)

    Mellow rain pelts the orange canvas tent and fills the air as the predawn glow silhouettes the tall oaks above. The stars begin to fade; morning will be here soon. A cool, crisp autumn breeze whisks through the tent, bringing with it the sweet aroma of the forest. A woodpecker searches for a morning meal with a sudden thumping as loud as a jackhammer.

    As I descend the mud-encrusted bank of the Green River, reflections dance and the sun inches toward the horizon. Oaks and sycamores tower over the opposite bank, their leaves gently floating through the air, creating ripples...

  9. The Miracle of Water
    (pp. 97-120)

    A strong gust of wind shakes the leaves above, bringing down droplets from last night’s shower. Worn steps lead to the cave entrance where the popular Frozen Niagara Tour begins, descending to what appears to be the bottom of a great bowl. Water trickles alongside the stairs as the guide opens two doors designed to create an airlock. “Preserving the temperature and specific environment of the cave is our number one goal,” the guide explains, elaborating with statistics about the damage done since tours began at Mammoth Cave in the 1800s. With a flip of a switch, lights come on,...