Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Not-so-Ghostly Ghost of Mammoth Cave (KY)

Martha Washington's Statue Postcard
Mammoth Cave has sometimes been referred to as America's LARGEST haunted location. Covering 52,830 acres with over 400 miles of mapped passages, there is definitely room for plenty of ghosts! There is also plenty of historical precedent for a spooky past. For example, part of the cave was used as a tuberculosis hospital in the 1800s! Mummified human remains also seem to have a habit of popping up within the interior of the cave. And yes, over the years there have been plenty of personal experiences of ghostly noises and apparitions by both staff and visitors to the cave.

However, the cave's most famous ghost is not really a ghost at all!

According to the book, Scary Stories of Mammoth Cave, the ghostly apparition now commonly referred to as Martha Washington's Statue, was first spotted by tour guide William Garvin in the 1880s. While walking down a cave passage known as 'Broadway,' Garvin saw the glowing apparition of a woman FLOATING above the ground in front of him. He witnessed the apparition for several moments before it blinked out of existence. Bravely approaching the location where the ghostly woman had been seen, Garvin raised his cane with the idea that he might possibly have to defend himself against some spooky entity. He then realized his mistake.

Garvin had assumed he was alone in the cave at the time, but there was actually a tour group nearby. The apparition he had spotted was caused by a Bengal Light (a type of flare used before the cave was rigged for electricity) turned on by the tour group and shining through the rocks.

Over 100 years later, visitors to Mammoth Cave, especially those taking the historic tour, can still spot Martha Washington's Statue and even purchase a 1912 postcard with her glowing image, photographed by Benjamin Hains. If you've been to Mammoth Cave and have a spooky story to share, or a photograph of the famous Martha Washington, I'd love to hear from you! Share below in the comments and as always...stay spooky my friends!

Further Reading:
Mammoth Cave--The World's Largest Haunted Place, by Troy Taylor

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