‘No End in Sight’: New Passages Discovered in the World’s Longest Cave
The world’s longest cave has just been discovered to be considerably longer than previously thought. The Cave Research Foundation’s mapping and study of the Mammoth Cave system uncovered eight extra miles of passageways, according to the Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. There are now 420 kilometers of passageways that have been discovered.
“When it comes to Mammoth Cave discoveries, there is definitely no end in sight!” said the Facebook post.
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The Cave Research Foundation is an official partner with the park, according to the National Park Service. Mammoth Cave has been documented and explored since the late 1950s, but it wasn’t the first to investigate the channels.
The National Park Service noted, “Prehistoric American Indians were the first to access the cave around 5,000 years ago and explored over 19 miles of cave route within what is now Mammoth Cave National Park.”
Stephen Bishop, an enslaved Mammoth Cave guide, drew one of the first maps and identified additional passages for travelers to explore in the 1840s. He came upon the Bottomless Pit and discovered unmapped portions of the cave system, according to the US Department of the Interior.
For years, the cave system was full of these kinds of finds. According to the National Park Service, two guide families spent their leisure time exploring “lost” tunnels and contributing what they discovered to the known distance.
Explorers eventually uncovered a link between the Mammoth Cave system and the Flint Ridge Cave system in 1972.
To uncover the connection, a group of explorers trekked into the cave for 12 hours, arriving from the Flint Ridge side. John Wilcox, the group’s leader, discovered a spacious room and recognized a tourist route, which he informed the others about. This established a link between the two cave systems.
They understood they were in Mammoth Cave and had scaled the Mt. Everest of the caving world as they all rushed through the channel to join Wilcox, according to the National Park Service report.
Other linkages with smaller cave systems were made as a result, according to a news statement from the National Park System. This is a condensed version of the information.