Mammoth Cave Curiosities: A Guide to Rockphobia, Dating, Saber-toothed Cats, and Other Subterranean Marvels
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.
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.
This eclectic book delighted me from the title page to the end matter. Olson’s playful voice and sense of humor lured me along, and now I’ve a good layperson’s education in Mammoth Cave lore, cave science, and cave history. Kudos to Ranger Olson for collecting and arranging all these facts and stories and telling them in such a personal, conversational voice. -- Wes Berry, author of The Kentucky Barbecue Book
Olson covers a wide variety of topics that are fun and interesting, and she discusses each with a personal account that makes the book read like you are listening to a park ranger on a tour of Mammoth Cave. -- Blair Hess, coauthor of My Old Kentucky Road Trip: Historic Destinations and Natural Wonders