There are many caves scattered across this region, and in a few of them saltpetre was mined in the years 1813-15. The most well-known and productive of these was owned by Alexander Spottswood, grandson of one of the colonial governors of Virginia by the same name. This cave is known as Saltpetre Cave, situated about 9 miles south of Glasgow near Temple Hill. I plan to cover this cave more extensively at a later time.
Saltpetre was drawn from Mammoth, Long, and Short caves, and other places, and was hauled by wagon through Lexington, KY to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There were also mummies found in Long and Short caves, one in each, and they were brought to Glasgow by Archibald Miller, then conveyed in a saltpetre wagon to Mr. Charles Wilkins, Lexington, KY.
There were skulls and other human bones found at Never Sink, on the north side of the Barren County railroad (Glasgow Spur), about 20 yards from it, and about one and a half miles from Bell’s Tavern. It is 110 ft. from top to bottom, nearly perpendicular, and of well shape, terminating in a cave, with a stream of water running from east to west. The bones and skulls, both male and female, were found up the stream, about 100 yards from the bottom of Never Sink. There are at least two theories how the skulls came to be there. One is the belief they were thrown into Never Sink, about 10 ft in diameter, by fellow Indians, as a punishment for crimes. The more plausible one is that they fell in while walking or running over the spot, which was concealed by the tall grass of the area.
During the rainy season, or after a particularly heavy downpour, water fills Never Sink and backs up the stream running into it. The stream is one of many that forms the Hidden River system, an underground river that runs under the city of Horse Cave, and through Mammoth Cave. The Never Sink cave is fairly certain to connect to that “World Wonder” Mammoth Cave, or at least the nearby Diamond Caverns.
I discussed in Drums Across the Barrens the largest Indian fortification in this area being on the Jewell farm, now under the lake at the junction of Peter Creek and Big Barren River. Another smaller settlement is situated in a bend of Skaggs Creek, 5 or 6 miles south of Glasgow. If I am not mistaken, this is near the Buffalo Ford, between Oil Well Road and Hwy 249.
About 7 miles from Glasgow, near the old road to Bell’s Tavern, in one of those places called the slashes, a well was partly dug for salt water. An Indian war-post stood here before Barren county was ever “settled.” It was discovered by the first military surveyors, and they called this 100 acre survey the War Post Lick Survey.
All of these have either been farmed over, built over, or just forgotten as the older generation overheard of their existence, and some of them have been rediscovered over the years.
Floyd Collins was an avid cave explorer, and had been exploring caves all of his life. It ended very tragically in a collapse that trapped him in Sand Cave. I recommend the book “Trapped,” which tells about this incident.
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