By Steve Kovacs (Introduction by Chuck Gibson)

LOVELAND, OH (July 1, 2024, 2024) – In this edition of Fun with Maps we go deep into a cave – the history of the cave.


Mammoth Cave may have been discovered over 4000 years ago, but it became a National Park on July 1, 1941.  Located in south-central Kentucky, it is the longest known-cave system in the world with over 430 miles of passageways surveyed, although new areas are constantly being mapped.

Legend has it that the cave was again “discovered” by a member of the Houchin family (it is disputed whether it is John or his brother Francis) when chasing a wounded bear that disappeared into a rock opening.  That was in 1797, but remains of Native Americans and their artifacts have been removed from the area, dating it much earlier as used by the Shawnee and Cherokee tribes.

The cave has been mined for saltpeter, used as a tuberculosis camp, and is the setting for a musical based on spelunker Floyd Collins opening on Broadway in 2025.

Visitors who tour the cave can travel through colorfully-named areas such as Frozen Niagara, Bottomless Pit, and Fat Man’s Misery. 

Here is Ruth White’s pictorial map of Kentucky from 1938 with Mammoth Cave identified.

Pictorial Kentucky – 1938 (Credit Steve Kovacs)

Steve Kovacs and his wife Theresa reside in Loveland, Ohio where they raised their two children. He is a passionate collector of antique maps.

Visit his antique map boutique world-on-paper online. Watch for his daily feature Steve Kovacs: Fun with Maps here on Loveland Beacon.