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Renfro Valley Bugle
Volume 20 Number 4

January 1967

Restoration Begins On Great Saltpetre Cave

Work has begun in earnest on the development of Great Saltpetre Cave. A crew of men is engaged in enlarging the main entrance and leveling off a bigger spot of ground in front of it. Being on the side of a rather steep hill with a difficult approach, it has been hard to get a bulldozer to some of it and much of the work has had to be done with pick and shovel. A better approach is now being plated out so that machinery can betaken inside the cave to level off the floor of its biggest room. This will be made into a sort of assembly room and museum, with enough room in it to take care of a good-sized audience. We may even hold shows in it or make it the scene of an occasional broadcast.

Before the end of this month, we expect to begin exploring the cave more thoroughly and perhaps excavating for artifacts and other ancient objects. It is our intention to invite nearby universities to send classes in to help us for the experience they will get out of it.

With all these things, however, the cave will be for the most part left exactly as it has been through the millions of years it has been in existence. Most of the work we do will be along lines of restoration. We will rebuild enough of the old leaching vats and wooden pipe lines to show how saltpetre for gunpowder was extracted from material found in this cave but what is left of the other old vats will be untouched. We are lighting the cave with electricity for the benefit of the workmen but when the cave is opened to the public it will be lighted by torches as it has been since its discovery by white men in the late seventeen hundreds.

Many people predict that the Great Saltpetre Cave, when ready to officially open, will be one of the greatest natural attractions in the Kentucky Mountains. We will do our best to live up to their expectations.

Scanning and OCR work done by Andy Niekamp

Article Courtesy of Renfro Valley Entertainment Center

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