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Exploration of Mammoth Cave

Unless otherwise noted, all courses are based out of Hamilton Valley Field Station, located on the border of Mammoth Cave National Park near Bowling Green, Kentucky. See Logistics page for more information.

June 16-21, 2024

This course is an intensive study of the exploration of Mammoth Cave.  A background of Mammoth Cave’s geologic history will be provided before focusing on the human history of the cave: with a special emphasis given to different periods of exploration, the explorers, their discoveries, their motivations, the cultural impacts of their exploration, and current/future exploration endeavors.  Illustrated lectures, maps, photographs, and first-hand accounts of discovery will be used to promote understanding of content prior to daily field trips.  The daily field trips will require extensive travel both on the surface and underground within Mammoth Cave National Park.   Surface travel can vary from paved paths, back country trails, and through areas with no developed trails.  The underground trips will sometimes follow old tourist trails that have not been maintained in decades, while other trips will require more strenuous travel in completely undeveloped passages requiring extended periods of crawling.  Some trips may require short climbs, but no rappelling or vertical caving will take place during this course.  Possible field trips have the potential to last up to 8 hours on any given day of the course. Participants must be in good physical condition.

Instructors: Bruce hatcher

Hatcher Bio Pic.jpg

Bruce Hatcher’s interest in caves began at an early age while

attending an elementary school program sponsored by Western Kentucky

University (WKU).  He grew up only a few miles outside of Mammoth Cave

National Park and began caving regularly at the age of 12.  He began

guiding tours in Mammoth Onyx Cave at Kentucky Down Under when he was

14 years old.  His guiding career also includes former work at Hidden

River Cave and continued part-time duty at Mammoth Cave National Park.

Bruce graduated from the University of Kentucky with a B.A. in

Geology, and received his M.S. in Geosciences from WKU.  He is an

employee of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, where he currently works as

an Environmental Scientist Advisor for the Department for

Environmental Protection - Division of Water - Bowling Green Regional

Office.  He is also a current member of the Cave Research Foundation.


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