The Regional Review

Volume III - No. 2

August, 1939


A report from the Bath (England) Literary and Philosophical Society, published in The (London) Literary Gazette, Vol. I, No. 12, April 12, 1817, p. 178, contains details of discoveries of 122 years ago, which, in the light of newer finds in Mammoth Cave National Park, arrest the attention of all who have visited or read about those labyrinthine caves. The recently exhumed article, headed "Natural Cave in Kentucky," reads:

"Monday, February 17, Mr. Cranch communicated to the Society the substance of some papers transmitted to him from Dorchester, near Boston in New England, relative to a mummy discovered in an immense subterranean cavern in the State of Kentucky.

"The mummy is that of a stout woman nearly six feet in height, though the whole material is so intensely dry as to weigh but twenty pounds. It was found in the cavern, at the, distance of three miles from its entrance. The figure appeared seated in a sort of rude sarcophagus, composed of fine limestone slabs; the fifth stone serving as a cover or entablature to the rest, exactly similar to the ancient cromlechs still extant in various places of the British islands. The knees had been brought close up to the body; the hands were clasped upon the breast; the head, covered with something like a coronet, was erect; and the whole figure was muffled up and covered with a number of garments made of wild hemp and willow bark. Several bags containing beads, trinkets, and various handicraft implements, were lying by the body, with a sort of work-basket, a curious musical instrument, and a fan made of feathers a la Vandyke.

"The entrance of the cavern is 40 feet high by 30 feet wide, and for some years past saltpetre has been made, and oxen worked, as far as two miles within it. A Mr. Ward has recently explored this wonderful cavern to the extent of ten miles. He says that after proceeding some miles, they ascended a vertical chimney-like passage, and climbing up from one stone to another about 40 feet, they entered at midnight a chamber 18000 feet [sic] in circumference, and 150 feet high in the centre! From this chamber they proceeded about a mile further, and how much further they might have gone they knew not. In another chamber which they traversed, they were presented with a scene to which there is at present, perhaps, no parallel in natural history -- a single arch of solid rock 100 feet high projecting over an area of not less than eight acres! From the observations which they made, they fully satisfied themselves of this further astonishing fact, -- the Green River, a mighty stream navigable for several hundred miles, must necessarily have passed over their heads in three different branches of the cavern.

"A great many discoveries, it is added in the communication to Mr. Cranch, have been made in Kentucky, which indicate the existence, at some remote period, of a state of society, arts, and social habits, far more advanced than any of the aboriginal tribes hitherto known have exhibited."

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Date: 04-Jul-2002