Tuberculosis Hospital Remains in Mammoth Cave
One of the more macabre scenes found in the cave are a series of stone huts built by Dr. John Croghan to treat tuberculosis patients in the cave. The idea came from the fact that people often seemed invigorated after a long hike into the cave. The oxen formerly used in the saltpeter mining operation seemed to thrive underground. Therefore he hoped dwelling in the cave would be effective in the treatment of this deadly disease. This may seem strange today, but it was well in keeping with the thinking current in the time.
Wright in his Guide Manual for Mammoth cave writes in 1860, a description of the cottages:
There is an account by the slave “Alfred” who was an attendant who worked with the patients in the sanitarium. He tells Bayard Taylor of his experiences:
There is much more that can be said about the experiment, but that is another tale than the one we are telling. There is the black slave connection with Alfred who worked with the patients inside the cave.
For our video I will shoot general videos of the tuberculosis huts and general setting to be used as a backdrop to the story of underground hospital. Narrative atop the will include an account of patients in the hospital as given by Albert to Bayard Taylor in 1859. In addition Western Kentucky University has a photocopy of letter, 21 December 1842, from Oliver Hazard Perry Anderson, Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, to Orlando Brown, Frankfort, Kentucky, in which he relates his experiences as a patient dwelling in the cave as a treatment for consumption. I don’t know what is in his tale, but it holds great potential for the video project.