Mammoth Cave Curiosities: A Guide to Rockphobia, Dating, Saber-toothed Cats, and Other Subterranean Marvels

Mammoth Cave Curiosities: A Guide to Rockphobia, Dating, Saber-toothed Cats, and Other Subterranean Marvels

by Colleen O'Connor Olson


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Sir Elton John, blind fish, the original Twinkie, President Ronald Reagan's Secret Service detail, and mummies don't usually come up in the same conversation — unless you're at Mammoth Cave National Park! Home to the earth's longest known cave system, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the oldest tourist attractions in North America. Although this remarkable place has been immortalized in works ranging from Herman Melville's Moby Dick to H. P. Lovecraft's "The Beast in the Cave," the realities of life at Mammoth Cave can be stranger than fiction.

In this charming book, Colleen O'Connor Olson takes readers on a tour through a labyrinth of topics. She discusses scientific subjects such as the fossils of prehistoric animals and the secret lives of subterranean critters, and she provides essential information on dating in the cave (the age of rocks and artifacts, not courtship). Olson also explores Mammoth Cave's rich history, covering its use as the world's first tuberculosis sanatorium as well as its operation as a saltpeter mine during the War of 1812, and shares the inspirational story of the park's first female ranger.

Throughout, Olson offers up humorous accounts of celebrity visits and astounding adventures and even includes a chapter dedicated to jokes told in the cave over the years. Whether you're visiting the national park, thinking about visiting, or just curious about a place recognized as one of the world's greatest natural wonders, don't miss this delightful guide to the wild and wonderful subterranean world of Mammoth Cave.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813169255
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Publication date: 02/24/2017
Pages: 264
Sales rank: 1,221,459
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Colleen O'Connor Olson has been guiding tours at Mammoth Cave National Park for over twenty years. She is the author of Scary Stories of Mammoth Cave, Nine Miles to Mammoth Cave: The Story of the Mammoth Cave Railroad, Mammoth Cave by Lantern Light, and Prehistoric Cavers of Mammoth Cave.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 The Mammoth Cave Dating Guide (Not How to Get a Date with a Mammoth Cave Guide) 3

2 Rockphobia: Rockfall, Earthquakes, and Caves 11

3 Bones: What's Left of Exciting but Dead Animals in Mammoth Cave 21

4 Secret Lives of Cave Critters Revealed! 31

5 The Gypsum-Twinkie Connection: And Other Uses of Cave Minerals 59

6 Prairie Park Companion: Mammoth Cave National Park's Prairie Restoration 63

7 Prehistoric Cavers 71

8 Saltpeter: An Explosive Subject 79

9 The Cave Cure: Old and New Ideas on the Healing Power of Caves 91

10 Exploring the World's Longest Cave 101

11 The Cave Wars 111

12 Want a 2:00 A.M. Cave Tour? Come to Great Onyx! 121

13 Cave Guide Coy Hanson: Electric Lights, the Mammoth Cave Railroad, and Other Stuff 137

14 Lost John: The Discovery of a Mummy 145

15 CCC Boy Fred K. Hanie Jr. 149

16 Ronald Reagan's Visit to Mammoth Cave 159

17 Rachel Wilson, a Woman in the Underground World of Men 165

18 Nuclear-Fallout Shelters in Mammoth Cave 175

19 The Literary Mammoth 179

20 Celebrities Underground 203

21 Colossal Cave Adventure: Cave Meets Computer 215

22 Cave Jokes: The Lowest Form of Humor 223

Acknowledgments 227

Notes 229

Index 249

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