Hidden River, state’s largest privately owned, scenic cave

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By Kentuckytourism.com

Horse Cave, population 2,250, is located on the southern edge of Hart County. The town is centered on a cave from which it derived its name and water supply. It was an oasis of water, cool air and shelter. There is no certain source for the name. Several have been suggested. The most plausible source is that the word “horse” was frequently used in the 18th and 19th centuries for something extraordinarily large: horse-laugh, horse chestnut, etc. The entrance to the cave, located on Main Street in downtown, is the largest natural opening in the entire cave area.

Horse Cave’s charming arts and shopping district has more than 50 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Colorful awnings and Victorian gingerbread decorate the town. If individuals look closely, they can trace the pathway of the cave under their feet.

Hidden River Cave, the largest privately operated cave in Kentucky, is located right on Main Street in historic downtown Horse Cave. A tour of Hidden River Cave takes individuals through one of the state’s most scenic cave entrances to a subterranean river flowing 100 feet below ground.

Individuals can take a leisurely tour, get “down and dirty” on the “Wild Cave Tour, or try the zip line across the mouth of the cave and rappel down the limestone face of the cave. Individuals can even trace the pathway of Hidden River Cave beneath their feet and the development of a town on top of a cave on the award-winning Horse Cave Stores Cell Phone Tour. Visit www.horsecavestories.com for more information.

Adjacent to the cave is the American Cave Museum, honored by The Nature Conservancy Magazine as “a little bit of Smithsonian in rural Kentucky.” Individuals will enjoy the state-of–the-art exhibits of cave bats, blindfish and other cave animals; prehistoric and modern cave explorers; the history of cave country and the “cave wars.”