Horse Cave, (population 2,250) is located on the southern edge of Hart County. The town is centered on a cave from which it derived its name and water supply. It was an oasis of water, cool air and shelter. There is no certain source for the name. Several have been suggested. The most plausible source is that the word “horse” was frequently used in the 18th and 19th centuries for something extraordinarily large: horse-laugh, horse chestnut, etc. The entrance to the cave, located on Main Street in downtown, is the largest natural opening in the entire cave area.
In 1850 Major Albert Anderson purchased all the land (535 acres) which is now Horse Cave. He marked off the streets and sold $40,000 worth of town lots and donated the land for the railroad and depot. The narrow, non-connecting streets are attributed to Anderson.
Horse Cave’s charming downtown commercial district has more than 50 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Colorful awnings and Victorian gingerbread decorate the town. If you look closely, you can trace the pathway of the cave under your feet! Along the pathway of the cave is the award-winning Horse Cave Stories Cell Phone Tour that tells the story of a town that grew on top of a cave.
Hidden River Cave, the largest privately operated cave in Kentucky, is located right on Main Street in historic downtown Horse Cave. A tour of Hidden River Cave takes you through one of the state’s most scenic cave entrances to a subterranean river flowing 100 feet below ground. You can take a leisurely tour or get “down and dirty” on their “Wild Cave Tour.” Or you can zipline across or rappel down the largest cave entrance in the region.
Adjacent to the cave is the American Cave Museum, honored by The Nature Conservancy Magazine as “a little bit of Smithsonian in rural Kentucky”. You’ll enjoy their state-of –the-art exhibits of cave bats, blindfish and other cave animals; prehistoric and modern cave explorers; the history of cave country; and the “cave wars”.