For those who appreciate the connections between interactive fiction and cave exploration, I wanted to mention that Jerry Bransford is running a fundraiser to build a memorial to the Bransford family guides and their contributions to Mammoth Cave. There is a direct link from their sacrifices and achievements to the IF community; think about what it would mean for us to help make this project a reality. The fundraiser is less than $3,000 away from its $10,000 goal. I have already contributed, and I hope you will as well.
The original Bransford guides, Mat and Nick, were brought to Mammoth Cave as slaves, leading tours along with Stephen Bishop. Despite their oppression, they became well known and respected as guides, and their descendants continued to lead tours after emancipation until the segregated National Park Service took over the park in the 1930s. Jerry Bransford returned to the cave in 2004; he is a fifth generation guide and has reclaimed his family’s complicated heritage with Mammoth Cave.
Today the graveyard where the Bransfords rest is in a sad state and some of the original markers have deteriorated to the point where they are illegible. For comparison, Stephen Bishop’s tombstone was donated by a visitor to Mammoth Cave named James Mellon, who recycled an unclaimed Union soldier’s marker (and got the date of death wrong).