Monday, April 29, 2013

Did your ancestors take a vacation that illustrates a national trend of the time?

Mammoth Cave river tour, National Park Service

NOTE: This post is the fifth in a series of excerpts from the road trip diary Hazel Pierce kept on her honeymoon trip with husband Don Vickers in 1926. Along with the excerpts are some observations and comments from this blogger.

After Hazel Pierce and her husband Don Vickers left Alabama, they drove through the Tennessee cities of Columbia, Nashville and Gallatin. In her diary, Hazel noted “pretty fields of wheat, rye and tobacco, also some lovely apple orchards.”

Hazel and Don left Tennessee and stopped at a Kentucky cave that had become a national attraction: Mammoth Cave.

“This is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. We first went into the office and a man showed us a blue print and explained to us about the cave. He sent a guide with us and carried a gas light and gave use one. They had the Delco lights part of the way.

“This cave was quite a mystery. There was different formations that resembled flags, bacon, turkey, Niagara Falls and many other things. There was one room called the radio room and they have the radio in there sometimes. There was some parts where the ceiling would be as smooth as could be and other parts very rough.

“We went down 250 feet below the ground and walked about 2½ miles. There was (Echo) river down in there and the guide took us for a boat ride. One place we passed through was very small and this was called ‘Fat Man’s Misery.’ This was a very interesting trip. We were about 2 ½ hours on this trip.

“We were given souvenirs at the office and the guide showed us a little girl which was petrified. She was found in the cave and it is believed she was captured by the Indians and rather than endure their torture she sacrificed her life. We went a short piece from the place where Floyd Collins was trapped in the cave We drove on to Cave City and spent the night at the Dixie Hotel."

According to Dave Tabler’s Appalachian History blog, Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave is the country’s
oldest touring cave. Formal guided tours started in 1816. The cave remained in private ownership until 1941
Book on
and grew into a prime tourist attraction. Because Mammoth showed how profitable cave tourism could be, it spawned a number of rivals in the 1920s, the dawn of the automobile vacation era.

In 1925, Kentucky farmer Floyd Collins became trapped in Sand Cave while searching for a cave entrance on the road from Cave City to Mammoth. The effort to free Collins drew attention and reporters from around the country. Reporters set up headquarters in Hotel Dixie, the same place Hazel and Don spent one of their nights on their honeymoon road trip.

Did your ancestors take a vacation that illustrates a national trend of the time?

The next post will be the final excerpt from Hazel's honeymoon road trip diary.

1 comment:

  1. This is the first time I've heard about Mammoth Cave. It sound both exciting and frightening. So they couldn't get Floyd Collins out of Sand Cave?

    I never knew it was one of the Seven Wonders of the World, either. (I couldn't name them, actually). Hazel is brave to take the entire tour, including through the narrow passage of "Fat Man's Misery."

    Our family once went to St. Augustine. Maybe that illustrated a natural trend of the times...

    Hazel has such an equable temperament. Her writing is always very calm.