|Joppa Baptist Church, Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky © Doug Hickok|
There was a time in the 19th century when the Kentucky hills, in the area that is now Mammoth Cave National Park, were populated by several scattered communities of settlers. Many had small churches like this for sanctuary on Sundays. Although the original church of 1862 no longer exists, this simple country church was built around 1900. A church such as this often served as a center for community activities as well. Country churches in this region typically had two entrance doors, one for men and one for women. Many a God-fearing soul has walked the creaky wooden floors past the pews shown here. The communities have gradually disappeared, but this little church and the cemetery next to it survive and are still used occasionally for special gatherings. Surrounding the church are miles of dense woodlands that conceal what lies beneath.
Located under this church is the largest cave system in the world. 390 miles of caves have been explored so far. Only about 10 miles are open to the public, who can see the caverns on guided tours. We didn't have enough time to join one of these tours while on our road trip, but later this week I will show you the sink hole we hiked to.
Because, really, what IS a vacation without a visit to the local sink hole?