Don Miske and John Kazz took the Historic Tour at Mammoth Cave National Park on Friday morning and heard their tour guide state that Mammoth Cave is 392 miles long.
Little did they know an announcement would be made Friday afternoon that an additional 8 miles of the cave had been surveyed, making Mammoth Cave 400 miles in length.
“I was surprised that Joe [our tour guide] didn’t know it this morning and then all of a sudden I saw the sign for 400 [miles] just a minute ago,” said Miske, who hails from Wisconsin.
He and Kazz, of St. Louis, were sitting in the exhibit area of the national park’s visitor center when officials hung the banner next to their bench announcing that Mammoth Cave was now 400 miles long.
“It’s pretty neat to be here when they say they found 8 more miles,” Miske said.
The official announcement was made during the national park’s 10th research symposium at Mammoth Cave Hotel minutes before the banner was hung at the visitor center.
Sarah Craighead, superintendent of the national park, joined Charles Fox, president of the Cave Research Foundation, in making the announcement.
People have been surveying Mammoth Cave for more than 100 years. The first 35 miles was documented by Max Kamper, a German cartographer, and Stephen Bishop, who was the first slave to give guided tours of the cave.
When Mammoth Cave was established as a national park in 1941, the cave was 50 miles in length.
In 1972, Flint Ridge was connected to the Mammoth Cave system.
“We were at 144.4 miles and that made it the longest cave in the world,” Craighead said.
In 1979, Joppa Ridge was added, making the cave 215 miles in length. In 1983, Toohey Ridge was added and the cave was then 294.4 miles long.
“Today we are at 400 miles,” Craighead said.
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