Photo Credit: Mammoth Cave National Park| Facebook
Did You Know? Original Tour Guides Of Mammoth Cave National Park Were Enslaved
Black cave expert, Jerry Bransford, is a ranger who has an extensive family legacy at Mammoth Cave National Park, established in 1941.
His great-great-grandfather, Materson Bransford, was one of the original cave dwellers who went on insightful journeys to research the newly-found cave in the mid-1800s. Materson was enslaved and hired for work to take visitors of, what is now, Mammoth Cave National Park on tours, even though he was enslaved by an Englishman.
Despite not having up-to-date equipment, Bransford led adventurous journeys down the cave and explored uncharted areas of Mammoth Cave prior to anyone else.
Jerry Bransford grew up very close to the park and became more knowledgeable of his family’s legacy at the historical site. At 74-years-old, he has been an active ranger at the cave for over 15 years and uses tours to educate visitors on his grandfather’s contributions.
“We find their names seven miles out in the cave down on level three and four,” Jerry Bransford remembers.
After Mammoth Cave became a national park in 1941, Jerry’s great-great-grandfather was no longer allowed to provide tours. Bransford’s legacy wasn’t going to be forgotten under his grandson’s willpower, so he is making sure visitors of today are aware of his impact.
“I believe I’ve been chosen as a representative to tell their stories, things that went untold for more than 170 years,” Jerry Bransford states.