Disputed Cave May Have Been Stop on the Underground Railroad

February 6, 2013 / Kentucky, United States, North America
Inside Kentucky's Wentworth Cave.

Inside Kentucky’s Wentworth Cave. Photo via Kentucky Division of Waste Management

A cave which has been holding up plans to build a coal ash landfill in Kentucky is now thought to have once been used as a hiding place for the Underground Railroad, the network that assisted slaves in reaching freedom in the 1800s.

Louisville Gas and Electric has hoped to build a 218-acre coal ash landfill near its Trimble County Power Station in northern Kentucky so it can move away from its ash storage ponds that are at capacity along the Ohio River.

Those plans have been in question since the fall of 2011, when the existence of a cave on the property, potentially protected by Kentucky’s 1988 cave protection law, came to light.

LG&E maintains that the it is only a “karst feature.”

Now, a report by Alicestyne Turley, a historian and contractor hired by LG&E consultants to review markings found Wentworth Cave to be “a very real example of a ‘holding’ or way station to aid slave escapes along the Ohio River.”

She believes that the inscriptions, which give evidence of people in the cave, may have been directions to a church or other dwelling, or names and initials of slaves or key local people.

LG&E officials are not convinced, instead focusing on the speculative nature of some of the results.

We agree with the consultant’s report that there’s no hard evidence that suggests this karst feature was used as part of the Underground Railroad. Chris Whelan, LG&E Spokesman

The U.S. Army Corps who is reviewing the study and other information as part of a wetlands destruction permit required for the landfill will meet with state historic preservation officials and others later this week to discuss a resolution.

Unfortunately, even if it is agreed that the cave was part of the Underground Railroad, destruction of the cave could still be allowed following its documentation.

Disputed LG&E cave may have been part of Underground Railroad [Courier-Journal]

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