38 mm (1-1/2”), 36.4 grams
HISTORY: In 1972, the National Parks Centennial Commission was authorized by the United States Congress to produce a celebration of national parks and monuments with medals in both silver and bronze. Roche Jaune, Inc., of Kalispell, Montana, was selected to produce these iconic pieces of art and chose Montana sculptor Frank Hagel (1933‒ ) to create and sculpt the series, with lettering by Joseph Di Lorenzo. Medallic Art Company (MACO) was chosen to mint the series of 28 National Park medals, including 26 National Monument medals. The MACO archive number for this Mammoth Cave bronze medal is 1972-008-014.
OBVERSE: The Mammoth Cave National Park was established in July 1, 1941, and this medal was the 37th issued by MACO in celebration of that date. Located in south central Kentucky, Mammoth Cave is the world’s longest known cave with over 400 miles of surveyed passages. Humans have inhabited these caves for over 6,000 years, leaving pictograms (and the remains of their buried families) behind. Hagel portrayed two early indigenous men painting images on the cave walls. Around the rim is “MAMMOTH NATIONAL PARK” and, to the right, “1941.”
REVERSE: “1872 NATIONAL PARKS CENTENNIAL 1972” frames the top of this exceptional medal, illustrating “CAVE LIFE.” Hagel introduces us to (clockwise) a cave cricket, a salamander, a crawdad, an eyeless fish, and a Kentucky cave shrimp. These are some of the creatures that inhabit the darkness of the caves.