Mammoth Cave: National Treasure or National Shame

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  • Topic: National Park Service, Mammoth Cave National Park, Edmonson County, Kentucky
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Mammoth Cave National Park: National Treasure or National Shame Wanda Gregory
Soc. 320 Ethics & Social Responsibility
Prof. J. Tomassini
August 27, 2010

Mammoth Cave 1

The home of one of the most magnificent wonders of the world is one of the most economically Depressed areas in the United States. On May 22, 1936, fifty one thousand acres of Edmonson County, Kentucky was declared a national state park. The making of this park reduced the County to a total land mass of 302 square miles.(Usgwarchives.org). It uprooted and Left homeless a total of over five hundred families. (Mammoth Cave, Forgotten Stories, 1997) This paper will discuss this method of relocation, the way the government achieved it, and the Lasting effects of having a national park in the middle of your home.(Rubenstein, James M.) It Will attempt to answer the question, “Is it ethical to do an evil thing to produce good results?”. (Ruggiero, 2008)

Edmonson County, Kentucky is a small county that borders Mammoth Cave National Park On all but two sides. It has a small population of just over 11,000 people. Of the eleven Thousand residents, 20.7 % are at or below the poverty line. The average income is Just over 25,000 dollars for a family of four. (US Census, 2009). With a national treasure Like Mammoth Cave, with over 2 million visitors a year, sitting right in the middle, it seems The average income would be a lot higher. The county receives no revenue or federal Monies from the park or the tourism industry. (US Census, 2009)

In 1936, the federal government decided to make Mammoth Cave into a national park. It After all, was a natural wonder. If you took both the number two and number three cave Systems and stretched them end to end, Mammoth Cave system would still be longer By a hundred miles. (US National Park Service). Previous to 1936, all National Parks Mammoth Cave 2

Had been made in areas uninhabited by people and the set up and seizing of land was Not a big issue. This time, however, it was an issue. This land was home to over

Five hundred individual families. They had developed schools, churches, stores and The same things you would see in any other developed community. How they went About it is still a matter of anger for many elderly people in this county and many family members who are still feeling the effects of this Federal mandate. (Kyvig, D. E.)

The Federal Government accomplished the task of uprooting all these people using Several different methods. The first way they did this was by finding out how many People rented and how many people owned their homes. If the home was rented, the People were forced to move with no compensation at all and no assistance in relocation. They were forced out of their homes and made to leave with practically no notice at All. (Kyvig, D. E.)

The people who did own homes were dealt with in a different manner. They purchased Their homes and property at a price well below what would have been a reasonable Price. Even in 1936, when property was much cheaper than today’s standards, they Offered a fraction of what the property was worth. The government paid for a Portion of the property and they claimed “eminent domain” on the rest. By declaring Mammoth Cave 3

The property owned by the Federal Government they denied right of way to the Property owners. This meant that essentially a person could still own the property But in order to reach the property, you had to cross federal ground. The property owner Then would be prosecuted for breaking Federal Law. It was illegal, for all intents and Purposes, catch 22.

The third thing the Federal Government did was, in the case of a property owner that Absolutely refused to comply, more extreme. If the property owner could not Be persuaded to go along with the plan any other way, they would dismantle their home. They would wait for a time when the owner was away, church or a social event, and...
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