The Mammoth Cave Railroad
A Train Ride to Remember
Jerry remembers going with his father as a young child to get on the nonfunctional Mammoth Cave train and pretending that he was an engineer.
The Mammoth Cave Railroad was in operation approximately from 1887 until 1926. Jerry’s father, David Crockett Sr., grew up on the ridge near Mammoth Cave and remembered being excited when the train would come up and chuck, steam, and smoke. One penny was a round trip fair from Park City (at that time known as Glasgow Junction) to Mammoth Cave, bringing distinguished guests from across the country to visit.
A colored man rode in the all-white section of a train on the way from Louisville, Kentucky to Chicago, Illinois in 1893. This was highly illegal at the time.
No one questioned him, no one suspected him, and—most importantly—no one caught him.
The colored man, on the train, was William Bransford, the second cousin of Jerry Brandsford. Will was on his way from Kentucky to The World’s Fair in Chicago. Will said he didn’t want to go to Chicago. He didn’t have a choice. He was a slave.
Mat, the main patriarch of the Bransford family, always hoped to start a family of his own day. He finally met his future wife Parthena and made that dream come true.
Slaves were allowed to have children with other slaves in the 1800s, with the approval of their masters. In the end, the masters had the final say on what would come about of the children.
Three out of four of Mat’s children were sold from him without his consent.
The Mammoth Cave Community
The best souvenir from Mammoth Cave in the 1870s was an eaten corncob that graced the ground. These weren’t just any ordinary corncobs though. These cobs were from the War of 1812.
After slavery ceased, many members of the Bransford family stayed in the Mammoth Cave area. It was a place that many called home.