Cumberland Caverns was known as Higgenbotham and Henshaw caves during most of its history, before it was turned into a Tennessee show cave by Roy Davis and Tank Gorin in 1955 and 1956. Similar in style and content to Matthews's recent book on Dunbar Cave, this book is a nice account of the history of Cumberland Caverns, which began in the pioneer days and continued, as far as significant events go, up to the completion of the current map in 1978, at 27.6 miles. Among the appendixes are a nice gazateer and a chronological summary. Roughly half the entries in the chronology, if one ignores trivial things like forty-four entries for the annual Cumberland Caverns christmas parties, are from the nineteenth century. There is also a poem that was apparently inspired by Higgenbotham Cave in 1880. It has over four hundred lines of the good old-fashioned sort that actually rhyme and scan.
This is a slightly revised and updated second edition of a book that was originally published by the NSS in 1988. It has been reformatted to a larger page size, and the photographs, many of which are new to this edition, are much better reproduced. (A number of photographs in the first edition could not be reprinted, though, so that edition may still be of interest to serious historians.) There are many nicely drafted maps, in the style of the 1970s, of parts of the cave, but the small scale required for even parts of such a long cave would not have permitted much floor detail anyway.
Cumberland Caverns was one of the most exciting cave exploration stories during the 1950s and 1960s, and cavers as well as speleo-historians will enjoy this book.