Photo by Ron Simmons

"Mammoth Cave soon to be over 1,000 miles"
   say two veteran explorers coming to county

The Hart County News-Herald, 08/07/2001

Two veteran cave explorers who played a major role in extending the size of Mammoth Cave from 144 miles to 365 miles now predict that by the end of the century, Mammoth Cave will grow to over 1,000 miles.

"I predict that people will be able to enter the cave system in Munfordville, south of the Green River, follow the caves through Horse Cave and Hidden River Cave to end up near Bowling Green," said well known cave explorer Roger Brucker.

Brucker and James Borden will be in Horse Cave next weekend to discuss their book entitled Beyond Mammoth Cave: A Tale of Obsession in the World's Longest Cave, which reveals many predictions about the cave area.

Brucker and Borden will be in Horse Cave at the Book Store located at 111 Water Street on Sunday, August 19th at 2:00 p.m. They will also be at the Mammoth Cave National Park Visitors Center on Saturday, August 18 at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

Brucker is already well known for his books, The Longest Cave, The Caves Beyond, and Trapped! The Story of Floyd Collins.

Borden is the Director of the Central Kentucky Karst Coalition and is well known by cavers for his expeditions that rivaled Brucker's findings.

"I first saw Jim (Borden) when he showed up at age 16 for a cave exploration," said Brucker. "He thought he was ready for the big time. He got tired of all of us talking as if Mammoth Cave was 'the only cave' and decided to go off to find his own cave. He poked around in holes for years before he made big discoveries."

Brucker said that his own fascination with Mammoth Cave began at age 8 when his mother brought him from his hometown in Ohio to see the cave. "I bought a 5 cell flashlight and shined it in every hole on that day trip we were on," said Brucker. "I was hooked after that."

It wasn't until 1953 when Brucker seriously started exploring Mammoth Cave. Brucker played a major role in discovering the connection between Mammoth Cave and the nearby Flint Ridge Cave System. He and Borden were also principal explorers in finding the connection of Mammoth Cave to Ropple Cave which is in Hart County.

These discoveries increased Mammoth Cave from 144 miles to 350 miles, which is over 3 times longer than any other cave in the world.

"Caves in the area contain about 400 miles of known passages. Some are less than a half-mile from Mammoth Cave," said Brucker.

"If you add in the major unconnected fragments and anticipated lengths of caves under other ridges, you get pretty close to a thousand miles," said Borden. "It will take some luck, but given time, a thousand miles is a reasonable expectation."

"All of these caves in the area are constantly getting closer and closer to each other through explorations," said Brucker. "We are finding out that they are connected to Mammoth Cave."

Borden, who is Director of the Central Kentucky Karst Coalition said that geologically, the region surrounding Mammoth Cave is known as the Central Kentucky Karst, which is part of a larger bed of limestone that extends from Southern Indiana into Tennessee.

Over millions of years, water draining through cracks in the earth has dissolved the limestone, creating an intricate network of underground passages. Borden said that all caves in the Central Kentucky Karst share a common drainage system that discharges into the Green and Barren Rivers.

"This is a book about discoveries and setbacks, is very suspenseful and can be enjoyed by cavers and non-cavers alike," said Brucker.

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