During the past week Phoebe Frear and I drove to Mammoth Cave to do some preliminary interviews and filming for the project. I am afraid I have been remiss in keeping up with this blog. The long trip and readjusting to home life has taken up too much of my time.
I picked up Phoebe Sunday night and brought her back to Reynoldsville, PA so we could get an early start in the morning. The next days travels found us pulling into Dayton Ohio in early afternoon to interview Roger Brucker – noted cave explorer and author. We talked and interviewed him for several hours and found him to very knowledgeable and accommodating.
The next morning we found ourselves at Locust Grove in Louisville, KY. This was the family home of George Rodgers Clark, and more importantly to us – the home of Dr. John Croghan one time owner of Mammoth cave. Here is an image of the home itself and a view of the inside of Dr. Grghan’s study on the third floor of the mansion:
Later that afternoon we drove down to Elizabethtown, KY to meet with Jerry Bransford. He is the great great grandson of Materson Bransford, one of the three slaves brought to the cave in 1838 by Franklin Gorin to work on the premises and work as guides in the cave. Jerry in the fifth generation of his family to have guided tours in the cave. We spoke to him for several hours and he allowed us to scan a number of the old photographs in his collection:
That evening we drove down to Park City, KY in preparation for visiting the cave the next day. The next morning we went on the Historic Tour as regular tourists to get our bearings and see what shots we could grab on the fly. The first image is from te Rotunda in the cave showing some of the saltpeter works fro the early 19th century. The second image shows our guide Jackie Wheet demonstrating an old style lamp.
That afternoon we returned to take the Frozen Niagara Tour. It was the only tour left by late afternoon. The first image is of the Frozen Niagara flowstone itself, the second is an image of pack rat snapped by Phoebe guarding its nest near the entrance to the cave:
The next day we headed of to Glasgow Kentucky to meet with Sandi Gorin. She is a professional genealogist working out of Glasgow. Sandi’s husband is a direct descendant of Franklin Gorin who purchased the cave in 1837. I wanted to bring a relative of Franklin Gorin into the discussion. After the interview we toured the Southern Kentucky Cultural Center and looked through their museum.
That afternoon we drove back to the cave to meet with Vickie Carson with the NPS to talk about out filming permit application. She walked through the cave with us so we could get some video using out lights.
The next morning we headed to Bowling Green to visit the Special Collections section of the library at Western Kentucky University. They had pulled a number of documents that were not in print for us to examine as well as a series of old books relating to the cave dated from the 1800’s.
That evening we headed back to the cave to attend the “Roots in the Cave” event. We encountered some wildlife and visited Echo River Spring prior to the event.
At the Roots event, we met a number of people with whom I had been corresponding including Les Carney – whose grandfather was a white guide at the cave in the early to mid 1900’s, Greg Sorvig who brought several newspaper accounts he had collected in developing his website (yet to go live) on Stephen Bishop, and Bob Thompson author of several books on Mammoth Cave history, among several others.
Saturday morning after we had been told that the Snowball to Echo River Tour had been filled and there wasn’t a place for us, we checked out of our hotel, called people at home and hit the road for Pennsylvania. We were on the road when we got a call that places had opened up on the trip by that time but we had to be there in 45 minutes. It would have been close if we turned around that minute, but we opted to continue home and skip the trip. A half-hour earlier and we would have been there… We got back to Pennsylvania in spite of problems I was having with headaches, stopped at my house to say hello, then I drove Phoebe back to Williamsport, PA. Then I headed back home to Reynoldsville. I got back about 1 am.
Edward Forrest Frank