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Mammoth Cave Saltpeter Works
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Mammoth Cave Saltpeter Works is the epic story of enterprising young frontiersmen whose fortunes were made in one of the largest nitrate mines in America. It chronicles the last six years (1810-1816) of pioneer saltpeter mining and business history in the worlds longest cave. Mammoth Cave achieved fame during the War of 1812, as the preeminent saltpeter factory in the nation, and international fame with the discovery and exhibition of prehistoric Indian mummies dug up by the saltpeter miners. Tourists began visiting the cave in 1816, the nations second oldest commercial cave. Mammoth Cave Saltpeter Works covers new ground unraveling day-to-day working conditions, utilizing state-of-the-art Swiss and French technology and mining methodology to manufacturer better quality saltpeter than any competition. The saltpeter works were wrecked during the New Madrid earthquakes. Management had to rebuild the factory along with coping with labor strikes, shipping delays, resource depletion, and hostile business takeover, all the while trying to supply saltpeter to the DuPont Powder Factory during the first part of the War of 1812. African-American slaves provided the majority of labor by working under harsh conditions. Toiling their craft underground and living there as well, 24-hours a day, every day, and rarely came out to the light of day. The business associated with the manufacturing of saltpeter and gunpowder helped to change the way people conducted commerce from barter to a cash economy at the start of Americas Industrial Revolution. Professional geologist and spelean-historian Angelo I. George, is a recognized authority on the early pioneer history of Mammoth Cave
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