Sunday, November 13, 2011

Black History at Mammoth Cave National Park

"Blacks were not allowed to be on the same tours with whites much less stay in the same hotel. Matt traveled to larger cities to appeal to the African American community to visit the world famous Mammoth Cave. Matt led Special tours so African Americans could experience the renowned Mammoth Cave. Matt and his wife, Zemmie, provided lodging and meals for black visitors at their home called the Bransford Resort. It was the first time in Mammoth Cave history the African American community could experience the same comforts and fascination of the cave white visitors had experienced for over a century."

I love the national park system. I have visited five national parks and numerous national park sites and I am always anxious to learn more about the role played by black people in the parks' history.

Today I came across information about Mammoth Cave national park in Kentucky. The first explorers of that cave system were enslaved people. Mammoth Cave is the largest cave system in the country and it is believed that there is still unexplored territory there.

Men like Stephen Bishop and Mat Basterson were enslaved and were leased out by their masters to lead tours. There are portions of Mammoth Cave which they discovered and which today's visitor has access to because of their curiosity and bravery. Read all about it here.