Mammoth Cave National Park

Counties of Barren, Edmonson, and Hart in the State of Kentucky
N37 11 14 W86 6 11
Date of Inscription: 1981
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(x)
Property : 21,191 ha
Ref: 150
News Links/Travelogues:

Mammoth Cave National Park, located in the state of Kentucky, has the world’s largest network of natural caves and underground passageways, which are characteristic examples of limestone formations. The park and its underground network of more than 560 surveyed km of passageways are home to a varied flora and fauna, including a number of endangered species.

Mammoth Cave is the most extensive cave system in the world, with over 285 miles (458 km) of surveyed cave passageways within the property (and at least another 80 miles [128 km] outside the property). The park illustrates a number of stages of the Earth’s evolutionary history and contains ongoing geological processes and unique wildlife. It is renowned for its size and vast network of extremely large horizontal passages and vertical shafts. Nearly every type of cave formation is known within the site, the product of karst topography. The flora and fauna of Mammoth Cave is the richest cave-dwelling wildlife known, with more than 130 species within the cave system.

Criterion (vii): Mammoth Cave is the longest cave system in the world. The long passages with huge chambers, vertical shafts, stalagmites and stalactites, splendid forms of beautiful gypsum flowers, delicate gypsum needles, rare mirabilite flowers and other natural features of the cave system are all superlative examples of their type. No other known cave system in the world offers a greater variety of sulfate minerals.

Criterion (viii): Mammoth Cave exhibits 100 million years of cave-forming action and presents nearly every type of cave formation known. Geological processes involved in their formation continue. Today, this huge and complex network of cave passages provides a clear, complete and accessible record of the world’s geomorphic and climatic changes. Outside the cave, the karst topography is superb, with fascinating landscapes and all of the classic features of a karst drainage system: vast recharge area, complex network of underground conduits, sink holes, cracks, fissures, and underground rivers and springs.

Criterion (x): The flora and fauna of the cave is the richest caverniculous wildlife known, numbering over 130 species, of which 14 species of troglobites and troglophiles are known only to exist here.

Suggested Bases:

Bowling Green is the third-largest city in Kentucky, with nearly 60,000 residents. Bowling Green is the hub of activity in the Caves and Lakes region. Bowling Green is accessible by car, primarily from I-65, which connects it with Nashville to the south and Louisville to the north. Two roads in the state’s parkway system of former toll roads serve the Bowling Green area. Interstate 165 (formerly the William H. Natcher Parkway, and still earlier the Green River Parkway) connects I-65 in Bowling Green with Owensboro, 70 miles to the northwest. I-165 intersects with the Western Kentucky Parkway near Beaver Dam, giving Bowling Green easy access to Paducah and the Land Between the Lakes. The Cumberland Parkway connects I-65 northeast of Bowling Green to Somerset, 80 miles to the east. From there KY 80 provides access to I-75 at London. Another major road in the area is U.S. 68. To the east of the city, it is a two-lane road that largely parallels I-65 and the Cumberland Parkway before taking a sharp turn toward central Kentucky [read more].

Owensboro is a town located on the banks of the Ohio River in Kentucky’s Western Coal Fields. It bills itself as the Barbecue Capital of the World. Owensboro is known as ‘The City of Festivals.’ Serving host to many local and international festivals and fairs. Owensboro is also considered ‘The Number One Sports Town’ in Kentucky. Owensboro is known for two dishes, barbecue and burgoo. If you haven’t heard of the second: it’s a traditional stew originally made with squirrel or venison, but now made with mutton, chicken, beef and vegetables. Henderson, to the west, is the home of Ellis Park, a thoroughbred horse track that races in the summer months. To the south are two towns that gave birth to musicians. Rosine is the birthplace of Bill Monroe, the father of Bluegrass music. Central City is the birthplace of Don Everly, the older of the two Everly Brothers, famous for countless hits including “Bye, Bye Love” and “Wake Up Little Susie” [read more].

Nashville is the capital of the American state of Tennessee. With 680,000 citizens, it is the state’s largest city. Nashville is sometimes called the “Country Music Capital of the World” or more often “Music City, USA”; however, Nashville has done much to escape its country music image and become a regional center of culture and commerce. In fact, Dell, Nissan, and Saturn have all moved some operations to or near the city. The music is various; major rap artists and rock bands (Young Buck, Haystak, Kings of Leon, Paramore, and Ben Folds) claim Nashville as their hometown, and the city is also the epicenter of the contemporary Christian music industry. Nashville has been the home of the world-famous Grand Ole Opry since 1925. Nashville also has a great bar scene. If you like to drink, you can go “Honky-tonking,” also known as “bar-hopping.” Nashville was founded in 1779 and it grew rapidly because of its excellent location on the Cumberland River [read more].

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