Mammoth Cave is the world’s longest recorded cave system.
It has more than 640 kilometers (400 miles) of surveyed passageways, which is nearly twice as long as the second-longest cave system, Mexico’s Sac Actun underwater cave.
Mammoth Cave is located in central Kentucky.
The cave is situated in Mammoth Cave National Park.
The park was established as a national park on July 1, 1941.
It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site on October 27, 1981, and an International Biosphere Reserve on September 26, 1990.
The natural arch that admits one to Mammoth Cave has a span of 21 meters (70 feet), and from a ledge above it a cascade leaps 18 meters (59 feet) to the rocks below, where it disappears.
The underground wonderland of spectacular Mammoth Cave was formed, and is still being formed, as limestone, also called calcium carbonate, dissolves in water seeping through the ground.
Mammoth Cave contain underground lakes and rivers and numerous unique geologic formations, including stalactites and stalagmites, to which descriptive names, such as Pillars of Hercules or Frozen Niagara, have been given.
While cave temperatures can vary widely near entrances (especailly in winter), deep cave temperature is 12ºC (54ºF).
The story of human beings in relation to Mammoth Cave spans six thousand years.
Several sets of Native American remains have been recovered from Mammoth Cave, or other nearby caves in the region, in both the 19th and 20th centuries.
Mammoth Cave was first discovered by the first European in the late 1790s.
Legend has it that the first European to discover Mammoth Cave was John Houchins, in 1797. While hunting, Houchins pursued a wounded bear to the cave’s large entrance opening near the Green River.
The name “Mammoth” was first used to describe the cave in the early 1800s. It refers to the “mammoth” size of the cave’s chambers and avenues, not the prehistoric elephant-like mammal.
During the War of 1812 the cave was mined for nitrates for use in making gunpowder, and it was later used as a tuberculosis hospital.
African Americans were some of the first cave guides. Stephen Bishop, a slave, worked in the cave from 1838 to 1856.
Today, about 500,000 people visit the cave annually.
Mammoth Cave is home to the endangered Kentucky cave shrimp, a sightless albino shrimp.