Essa y .................... Down in the Hole Outlaw Country and Outlaw Culture by Max Fraser And loud they sang , and long they sang , For they sang to wake the dead. —Oscar Wilde, “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” All images by Carmen J. Price. he earliest documented exploration of a deep cave in eastern North America occurred roughly five thousand years ago, in the limestone r- i ch hills of the Upper Cumberland Plateau along what is now the border between Kentucky and Tennessee. Car - ry T ing torches lit with charcoal made from river cane, one or two small groups of hunte gr ath - erers entered a cave mouth in present- day F entress County, Tennessee, and ventured thousands of feet into the p bla itc ch- k inte rior, traversing complicated passageways to which later speleologists would give impassablesoun - ding names like “Only Crawl” and “ Towering Inferno.” Charcoal remnants amenable to radiocarbon dating, and, rather more poignantly, some 274 footprints, preserved in the moist clay of the cave floor for thousands of years, have allowed researchers to reconstruct the movements of these ancient cavers— although not, precisely, their motivations for entering
Southern Cultures – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Oct 11, 2018
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