Black Guides of Mammoth Cave


The Black Guides of Mammoth Cave

The Black Guides of Mammoth Cave is a documentary about the history and legacy of black guides at Mammoth Cave from the time of slavery until the present day.  The broadcast premier of documentary Black Guides of Mammoth Cave, produced by Edward Edward Forrest Frank, Phoebe Frear, and Steven Barnes is going to be on February 26, at 8 pm ET and 7 pm CT, on KET2.  With several additional replays over the following week,

A DVD video of the documentary Black Guides of Mammoth Cave may be ordered on February 26th for $19.95 plus shipping and handling. Streaming purchases will also be available from the site:


In 1838 three slaves
were brought to Mammoth Cave to work as guides: Stephen Bishop, Materson Bransford, and Nick Bransford.  Stephen Bishop became the greatest American Cave explorer who ever lived.  He crossed what was known as the Bottomless Pit and discovered tens of miles of new passage in what is known now as the longest cave in the world.  The trio spent a lifetime leading tours and exploring new passages in the cave.  Many other black individuals have made major contributions to the history of the cave over the years. Leading tours in the cave and exploration became a family tradition for generations of guides both black and white. The Bransford family, for example, has had five generations work as guides in the cave from Mat Bransford, one of the original threes slave guides, to his great great grandson and present day guide Jerry Bransford. This is their story.

The Black Guides of Mammoth Cave documentary  was produced by myself (Edward Frank) and my partners:  filmmaker Phoebe Frear and best-selling author and screen writer Steven Barnes.  I am a filmmaker, writer, geologist, and adventurer.  Phoebe Frear  is a talented young filmmaker who has produced short documentary and theatrical videos with her production company Elephant Trunk Films .  Steven Barnes  is an award winning science fiction writer, a NY Time bestselling author, and a screen writer with his work appearing on numerous television series.  Steven Barnes has his own production company Dark Dream Productions  and recently finished filming the short “Danger Word.”  I want to also thank all those involved. Jackie Wheet and Jerry Bransford are featured in the documentary narrated by Steven Barnes. Sandy Gorin, Greg Sorvig, and Roger W. Brucker are also interviewed. Additional thanks to David Kem, Dave Spence, Norman Warnell, Bob Thompson, Gross Magee, Gordon Smith, and Vickie Carson for their help in the production process.

The story of the black guides at Mammoth Cave is not a simple, single thread.  It is the story of many people each with their own individual experiences and contributions, and tragedies and triumphs. It was the goal of the documentary to not only tell the stories of the guides and their families and of their historical legacy, but to show their humanity and to present them as individuals.




DVD and Streaming Downloads (Active Feb 26, 2017)




We have a Facebook Page where you may also follow the project as it continues to move forward:  Black Guides of Mammoth Cave:  A Documentary



Follow us on Twitter:  @blackcaveguides


Indiegogo Campaign (now finished)




One Response to Black Guides of Mammoth Cave

  1. Pingback: Black Guides Blog is Moving | Black Guides of Mammoth Cave

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