Horse Cave, Kentucky

Horse Cave, Kentucky

Infobox Settlement
official_name = Horse Cave, Kentucky
settlement_type = City
nickname =
motto =

imagesize = 250px
image_caption = Downtown Horse Cave, December 2006, looking Eastward down Main Street/HWY-218. The cave opening is to the right.


mapsize = 250px
map_caption = Location of Horse Cave, Kentucky

mapsize1 =
map_caption1 =

subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = United States
subdivision_type1 = State
subdivision_name1 = Kentucky
subdivision_type2 = County
subdivision_name2 = Hart
government_footnotes =
government_type =
leader_title =
leader_name =
leader_title1 =
leader_name1 =
established_title =
established_date =

unit_pref = Imperial
area_footnotes =
area_magnitude =
area_total_km2 = 7.7
area_land_km2 = 7.7
area_water_km2 = 0.0
area_total_sq_mi = 3.0
area_land_sq_mi = 3.0
area_water_sq_mi = 0.0

population_as_of = 2000
population_footnotes =
population_total = 2252
population_density_km2 = 292.7
population_density_sq_mi = 758.0

timezone = Central (CST)
utc_offset = -6
timezone_DST = CDT
utc_offset_DST = -5
elevation_footnotes =
elevation_m = 193
elevation_ft = 633
latd = 37 |latm = 10 |lats = 34 |latNS = N
longd = 85 |longm = 54 |longs = 22 |longEW = W

postal_code_type = ZIP code
postal_code = 42749
area_code = 270
blank_name = FIPS code
blank_info = 21-38008
blank1_name = GNIS feature ID
blank1_info = 0494572
website =
footnotes =

Horse Cave is a city in Hart County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 2,252 at the 2000 census.


The city is best known for the large natural cave opening located on the south side of Main Street, from which the town's name is derived. As for the historical reason for the odd name, various legends are told. One has it that Native Americans historically hid horses in the cave. A similar tale is that an early carriage may have lost its horse to an accident, when the horse fell into the cave opening. Another, more likely, reason for the name is that the word horse was simply a 19th century adjective implying huge. The cave opening is large, and this is the most likely reason for the odd name. ("Hoss" is a Swedish word for "big in stature and big in spirit"; in the 19th Century, "Hoss", or "Horse", over time, became the Southern equivalent word, implying something that was huge or large.)

The cave itself has figured prominently in the history of the town. Around the World War I period, the world's only air-conditioned tennis courts were located in the entrance of the cave. Likewise, many of the early buildings alongside Main Street derived their air-conditioning from the cave. Inside the cave is a large, fast-flowing river, and the cave itself is also known as Hidden River Cave. This energy source provided the energy to drive a dynamo, and, for a while in the late 19th Century, Horse Cave was the only town outside of Louisville to have electric lights in Kentucky.

The town's drinking water was also taken from the cave. Unfortunately, due to an incomplete understanding of the underground water flow in the region, sewage seeped into the cave, and hence into the drinking water, and the cave became severely polluted. The outcome was that the cave was shut down for tours for over 50 years. During the 1960s, the stench was so bad that pedestrians would cross to the other side of Main Street, rather than walk near the cave's opening. Birds flying over the cave's opening could be seen struggling to breathe, falling from the sky into the opening of the cave. Fortunately, efforts made to prevent polluting ground water in the region, coupled with the natural regenerative effects of the running water, have largely restored the cave to a pristine condition. Tours have resumed once more, the outcome of a successful anti-pollution effort by various levels of government.

The town of Horse Cave dates only to around the time of the Civil War. A stop on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad at this location led to the development of commerce. For at least a short period of time, the town was also known as Caverna, before returning to the name of Horse Cave. The local school district, which is an independent school district crossing three counties and encompassing Horse Cave, Cave City, and Mammoth Cave, is still known as the Caverna Independent School District.

Historically, Horse Cave has been a major center of agricultural commerce for Hart County, Metcalfe County, Green County, and the northeastern part of Barren County since at least the 1870s. Tobacco warehouses located here have provided the majority of the income, although factory work has been growing since the 1970s.

Tourist attractions include the Kentucky Repertory Theatre, [ Kentucky Down Under] /Kentucky Caverns, and the nearby Mammoth Cave National Park. Civil War Days are an annual tourist event, during which time parades down Main Street and re-enactments of a [ Civil War battle at Rowlett's Station] , between Horse Cave and Munfordville, Kentucky are staged.

Horse Cave is also the birth place of former NBA player Clarence Glover.


Horse Cave is located at coor dms|37|10|34|N|85|54|22|W|city (37.176230, -85.906143)GR|1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.0 square miles (7.7 km²), all of it land.


As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 2,252 people, 977 households, and 601 families residing in the city. The population density was 758.0 people per square mile (292.8/km²). There were 1,091 housing units at an average density of 367.2/sq mi (141.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 80.91% White, 17.94% Black or African American, 0.27% Native American, 0.04% from other races, and 0.84% from two or more races. 0.58% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 977 households out of which 28.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.2% were married couples living together, 18.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.4% were non-families. 34.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.21 and the average family size was 2.84.

In the city the population was spread out with 21.8% under the age of 18, 8.8% from 18 to 24, 26.4% from 25 to 44, 22.6% from 45 to 64, and 20.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 81.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 72.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $21,134, and the median income for a family was $28,026. Males had a median income of $25,905 versus $18,457 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,861. About 24.1% of families and 27.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 36.8% of those under age 18 and 22.5% of those age 65 or over.


External links

* [ Hart County's Newspaper "News-Herald" - Local newspaper]

A large Bamboo Research Station is North of Horse Cave . It is said to contain, the states largest collection of bamboos .

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