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Horse Cave

Trip Planner USA  /  Kentucky  /  Horse Cave
(800+ reviews from 3 attractions)
Zoos & Aquariums Museums Nature
Horse Cave is a home rule-class city in Hart County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 2,252 at the 2000 U.S. census.HistoryThe town was settled by Maj. Albert Anderson in the 1840s. The landowner donated land for an L&N station in 1858 on the provision that it be named after nearby Horse Cave. The community around the station developed quickly, so that a post office was erected in 1860 and the city was formally incorporated by the state assembly in 1864.The cave for which the city is named is located on the south side of Main Street. Various explanations are given for its unusual name. One is that Native Americans or outlaws hid horses in the cave; another is that an early carriage may have lost a horse when it fell into the opening by accident; a third reason involves the 19th-century use of "horse" as slang for anything big or huge, related to a similar use of the Swedish hoss. The cave has also been known as Hidden River Cave, for an underground stream located inside. That stream was used to power a dynamo and, for a while in the late 19th century, Horse Cave was the only city in Kentucky apart from Louisville and Ashland to have electric lights. Around World War I, the only air-conditioned tennis courts in the world were located near the entrance of the cave. The stream also provided the town's water supply but mistaken development caused raw sewage to seep into the water and forced the closure of the cave for fifty years. The stench was so bad in the 1960s that pedestrians typically crossed to the other side of Main Street rather than walk near the entrance and birds would sometimes fall from the sky. The problem has been largely solved in recent years.
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