Stock photograph of the Historic Entrance at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, USA
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Mammoth Cave Explorers Confirm 6 More Miles of Passages Mapped

The world's largest cave system just got a little bit bigger. The National Park Service announced that Kentucky's Mammoth Cave has just added six more miles to its total length. The massive cave system, which is one of Kentucky's top tourist attractions, now covers a staggering 426 subterranean miles.

According to a press release from the National Park Service, this addition to the cave's length came from surveys conducted by the Cave Research Foundation (CRF). The additional length was mapped through various sections of the cave. The CRF then produced new maps of the known parts of the system. Park Superintendent Barclay Trimble said the discovery was appropriately timed with an important recent anniversary celebration for the park's storied cave system. The park recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of being crowned the largest cave system in the world. Mammoth Cave was first given that distinction after explorers discovered a connection between the nearby Flint Ridge Cave system and Mammoth back in 1972. That discovery was confirmed by the CRF on September 9, 1972.

"It is very fitting that we can now announce the new miles during our anniversary events celebrating years of great work accomplished by the CRF," Trimble said in an NPS press release.

At the time of the 1972 discovery, researchers had only documented and mapped approximately 144.4 miles of the system. Explorers have continued to increase the length of the system as they've discovered new connections, some barely large enough for a human to squeeze through in the decades since then. Explorers are still searching for other connections to nearby cave systems.

Mammoth Cave is so large, and so well known, that it's not even known who the first European settler was to find the cave. There are several conflicting stories without a lot of proof to back them up. It just seems to add more mystery and intrigue to one of the world's most fascinating cave systems. It's little wonder it's one of the country's most popular National Parks. We imagine it won't be long before researchers increase the official length of this cave once again.

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