Black Guides of Mammoth Cave Documentary

Posts and discussions related to NTS,ENTS, and WNTS members and organizations appearing in the news or popular media. Notes regarding papers, books, recordings, or articles release or published by NTS members.

Moderators: edfrank, dbhguru

Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 4217
Joined: Sun Mar 07, 2010 5:46 pm

Black Guides of Mammoth Cave Documentary

Post by edfrank » Fri Feb 21, 2014 8:50 pm

Hello NTS,

I know I have not been as active in the group recently as I once was, but hope to get back into the swing of things. I have been working on one project. I am developing and have started shooting a documentary video. It is entitled “The Black Guides of Mammoth Cave: A Documentary.”

About Us

The video is being produced by myself (Edward Frank) and my partners: filmmaker Phoebe Frear and best-selling author and screen writer Steven Barnes. I am a geologist, caver, photographer, web designer, and filmmaker http://blackguidesofmammothcave.wordpre ... est-frank/ . Phoebe Frear http://blackguidesofmammothcave.wordpre ... ebe-frear/ is a talented young filmmaker who has produced short documentary and theatrical videos with her production company Elephant Trunk Films. Steven Barnes http://blackguidesofmammothcave.wordpre ... en-barnes/ is an award winning science fiction writer, a NY Time bestselling author, and a screen writer with his work appearing on numerous television series. Steven Barnes has his own production company Dark Dreams and recently finished filming the short “Danger Word.”

NTS in the News

I was interviewed on local television about the project on Tuesday and my handsome self can be seen doing the interview here: ... Z8GAdx-_Ww

So I am an NTS in the news!

The Story of the Black Guides

The story of the black guides at Mammoth Cave is not a simple, single thread. It is the story of many people each with their own individual experiences and contributions, and tragedies and triumphs. It is the goal of the documentary to not only tell the stories of the guides and their families and of their historical legacy, but to show their humanity and to present them as individuals. We are asking for contributions to help us complete the documentary and to present the story to a broad audience.

The story begins in 1838 the new owner of Mammoth Cave, Franklin Gorin, brought three slaves Stephen Bishop, Materson Bransford, and Nick Bransford to work as guides at the cave and to work on the grounds. Stephen Bishop, the guide, became as famous as the cave itself and was requested by name to show the cave to the cultural and social elite of the day. He was the first great American cave explorer. He was the first to cross the Bottomless Pit and to discover the tens of miles of cave beyond. He discovered the River Styx and the Echo River and the blind white cave fish that lived there. His story begins the major exploration of the world’s longest cave, with 400 miles of interconnected, surveyed passage know today.

The story continues today with jerry Bransford. In 2004 Jerry Bransford, great-great-grandson of Materson Bransford, began working as a guide in the cave. The first tour he led into the cave was the first time that a Bransford had guided a tour into the cave sine his Uncle Louis had left the guide service 65 years before. Jerry is the fifth generation of Bransford to work as a guide in the cave and using this opportunity to learn about and to reconnect with his family’s history. The story includes the generations of people in between.

Indiegogo Fundraiser

Toward this end I have created an Indiegogo fundraiser to help offset the costs of the film production. Please visit the page and see what the production is about. ... ocumentary I have three video clips posted there talking about the project. If you can - donate a couple thousand dollars of your pocket change to the effort. Even if you only donate a dollar, you can be part of the effort. If nothing else please spread the word about the project among friends and social media.

The website for the project and my blog is located here:
Stop by and say hello.

Edward Forrest Frank
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

User avatar
Posts: 906
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:32 am

Re: Black Guides of Mammoth Cave Documentary

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Fri Feb 21, 2014 9:28 pm

I'm looking forward to the completion of this project!

User avatar
Posts: 1569
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:42 am

Re: Black Guides of Mammoth Cave Documentary

Post by Don » Sat Feb 22, 2014 3:03 am

You're a man of many interests!
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:

User avatar
Posts: 4550
Joined: Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:34 pm

Re: Black Guides of Mammoth Cave Documentary

Post by dbhguru » Sat Feb 22, 2014 12:23 pm


We've all understood that by formal education, you are a geologist. We have come to appreciate your computer talents, as they impact us in NTS. But they obviously go far beyond facility with databases, websites, BBSs, etc. disciplines.

We salute your efforts on this very worthy project. I was only dimly aware of the role of African Americans in terms of being guides. It is a story needing to be told.

Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

Post Reply

Return to “NTS Members in the News”