Reconnecting at Mammoth Caves
The Tennessee Aquatic Project is a youth organization that engages at-risk and inner city youth with a wide range of outdoor and civic activities to enhance personal development.
After meeting up at the Breaking the Color Barrier Conference last September, Ken Stewart of the Tennessee Aquatic Project (TAP) and Jerry Bransford, a Mammoth Cave National Park guide, decided to join forces and send over sixty youth on a trek up to the Caves. The youth were able to hear first hand the intriguing story of Bransford’s slave ancestors who were important contributors to the cave site.
“African Americans played a vital role in the development of cave tour routes and the visitor experience throughout the 19th and early 20th century. The first black guides were slaves, and through their efforts opened up the golden age of cave exploration for Mammoth Cave” (NPS website) The TAP youth camped out the rest of the weekend, enjoying outdoor activities led by Stewart during the day, and joined by Jerry Bransford in the evenings to hear more about his family history at the caves.