Journal of Cave and Karst Studies - ISSN 0146-9517
Volume 59 Number 2: 91-94 - August 1997

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Examining Early Nineteenth Century Saltpeter Caves: An Archaeological Perspective
M. Susan Duncan


During the War of 1812, the southeastern United States experienced a drastic need for saltpeter to be used in gunpowder. The limestone caves of Kentucky became the focal point of a brief, but vital, mining industry. Two production models are drawn from the extant literature and compared to Saltpeter Cave, an archaeological case study site in northeastern Kentucky. Equipment types, production systems, and water-transport systems are discussed vis--vis their function in each production model.

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