Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Living Reminder at Mammoth Cave National Park

On Saturday, my wife, son and I visited Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky on the tail end of a week-long vacation. As we were walking down to the entrance of the cave, I noticed large clumps of daffodils growing in the hillside. I remember thinking to myself that planting all those bulbs would have been a chore, and that there didn't seem to be much rhyme nor reason for their placement.

Later in the tour, another visitor asked our guide about the daffodils. It turns out that they are a living reminder of the thousands of private landowners who once called the park home. Before Mammoth Cave was established as a National Park in 1941, eminent domain was used to forcibly evict many families from their land. Not surprisingly, this subject remains sore for many local families, nearly 70 years after the park's founding.

There is no doubt that Mammoth Cave National Park continues to enrich the lives of millions of visitors each year by exposing them to both the human and natural history of the area. These daffodils emerge each spring as a bittersweet reminder that there is always a price attached to the common good.

I certainly will never again look at a daffodil without wondering a bit about the person who first gave it a home.

4 comments:

  1. I'm glad you wondered and that someone asked about them. So bittersweet...

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  2. Where there are daffodils growing in the "wild" in the US, someone once lived there. While it can be traumatic and sad to have to give up property in situations like this it should be remembered that landowners were/are compensated and often provisions are made for the homeowner to live out their lives in their homes. We hold landownership a bit too tightly. No one can own land forever! This is a reminder too that Native Americans were mostly forced off their lands with no compensation by European immigrants. Land currently owned was once the property of someone else. Susan
    I hope you got a chance to visit Cedar Sink. It is an awesome area in the park that is known for it's variety and profusion of wildflowers. Due to the protected nature of the area (it is a collapsed cave)the growing zone there is one to two zones further south.
    When our son was sixteen he and my husband went on a volunteer vacation to the park. They did trail work with a great group of volunteers. It was an awesome experience and they got to see some of the caves not open to the public. It was also warmer there in late March than it was in MI!

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  3. Chris, I left the comment above as anonymous. I do not mind adding my name (Susan)to the post but can't figure out what to put in "comment as" with just an email.Could you post how to do this?

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  4. The landowners were not necessarily compensated sufficiently to allow them to purchase comparable land outside the park.

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