Rambles in the Mammoth Cave, during the Year 1844 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 66 pages of information about Rambles in the Mammoth Cave, during the Year 1844.

  “Skim along the dusky glades,
  Thin airy souls, and visionary shades.”

If you turn your eyes from the canoe to the parties of men and women whom you left waiting on the shore, you will see them by the gleam of their lamps, scattered in picturesque groups, looming out in bold relief from the dense darkness around them.

Having passed the Styx, (much the smallest of the rivers,) you walk over a pile of large rocks, and are on the banks of Lethe; and looking back, you will see a line of men and women descending the high hill from the cave, which runs over the river Styx.  Here are two boats, and the parties, which have come by the two routes, down the Styx or over it, uniting, descend the Lethe about a quarter of a mile, the ceiling for the entire distance being very high—­certainly not less than fifty feet.  On landing, you enter a level and lofty hall, called the Great Walk, which stretches to the banks of the Echo, a distance of three or four hundred yards.  The Echo is truly a river:  it is wide and deep enough, at all times, to float the largest steamer.  At the point of embarkation, the arch is very low, not more than three feet, in an ordinary stage of water, being left for a boat to pass through.  Passengers, of course, are obliged to double up, and lie upon each others shoulders, in a most uncomfortable way, but their suffering is of short duration; in two boat lengths, they emerge to where the vault of the cave is lofty and wide.  The boat in which we embarked was sufficiently large to carry twelve persons, and our voyage down the river was one of deep, indeed of most intense interest.  The novelty, the grandeur, the magnificence of every thing around elicited unbounded admiration and wonder.  All sense of danger, (had any been experienced before,) was lost in the solemn, quiet sublimity of the scene.  The rippling of the water caused by the motion of our boat is heard afar off, beating under the low arches and in the cavities of the rocks.  The report of a pistol is as that of the heaviest artillery, and long and afar does the echo resound, like the muttering of distant thunder.  The voice of song was raised on this dark, deep water, and the sound was as that of the most powerful choir.  A fall band of music on this river of echoes would indeed be overpowering.  The aquatic excursion was more to our taste than any thing we had seen, and never can the impression it made be obliterated from our memories.

The Echo is three quarters of a mile long.  A rise of the water of merely a few feet connects the three rivers.  After long and heavy rains, these rivers sometimes rise to a perpendicular height of more than fifty feet; and then they, as well as the cataracts, exhibit a most terrific appearance.  The low arch at the entrance of the Echo, can not be passed when there is a rise of water of even two feet.  Once or twice parties have been caught on the further side by a sudden rise, and for a time

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Rambles in the Mammoth Cave, during the Year 1844 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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