Travel – Mega Caverns, Louisville, Kentucky

Hello everyone, it’s Jeff again and this time I’m posting about our recent trip to Louisville, Kentucky and a visit to the Louisville Mega Cavern.  (Barbara may be planning on writing a post on the caverns, but I thought I would beat her to it!). The Louisville Mega Cavern offers visitors several adventure opportunities, such as zip lining rope courses, it is a little pricey but alot of fun!!  In this post I will talk about the history of the caverns and the available entertainment.

History of the Mega Caverns in Louisville, KentuckyLouisville-1942-590 The mine was first known as the Louisville Crushed Stone Company in the 1930 which provided construction material for the building of the roads and bridges around the Midwest.  The mine shut down in 1972 100 acres of materials had been removed and the space left about 17 miles of underground space.  It was purchased in 1989 and it became the Louisville Underground, LLC. which was a company designed to provide ultra-safe, ultra-secure storage.

The caverns are huge, over 4 million square feet and the space was used for several purposes such as a dumping ground / recycling center for inorganic materials, a worm farm, a storage facility for the city’s road salt supply, secure temperature controlled storage and my favorite, a huge civil defense shelter!  The caverns were slated to house over 50,000 people should there be a nuclear attack on the United States. The city of Louisville had about 788,000 people at the time it would have only been able to house about 16% of the local population so not everyone was invited.  You needed to be on a secret list which included the governor, soldiers from Fort Knox, important people and supposedly Colonel Sanders of KFC fame!

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More recently the owners decided to stray away from storage and started installing some first class entertainment!  After backfilling some 50-60 feet of the cavern, Louisville Mega Caverns were born.  The attractions include a tram ride, “Mega Quest” – a rope adventure area, “Mega Zip” – underground zip lines and opening soon, “Mega Underground Bike Park”.  The bike park is a great idea in my mind because it will be available year round – weather will never again be a factor!

The Facility

The facility is a big cavern (cavern, not cave as it is man made) that has been partially filled in over time.  It is the largest building in Kentucky and one of the most eco-friendly as the large amount of limestone which provided insulation for keeping the facility at a constant 58 degrees.


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There is a decent parking lot close to the entrance and a small covered area, which I assume is where you meet for the tram rides.  The entrance takes you down a long hall with posted lists on facts for visitors to read and be entertained.  The corridor is made of fairly plain sheetrock with no real embellishments, but it is just getting you to the real entrance.  Before you get there however you pass part of the storage area and some really HUGE fans!  Those really impressed me.  They are probably 15 feet tall!


The entrance to Mega Quest / Mega Zip is quaint, but when you get in the facility is nice.  There is a seating area with tables that will fit a large number of people.  They section parts off for “private” parties.  There is a small gift shop and an area serving snacks and drinks with free refills.  Take advantage of this – “mega questers” will get thirsty with all that strenuous activity.

The staff is very nice and helpful and they operate more like a family business that a corporate machine giving the place a very nice feel.  I’ll talk a little more about the specifics of each attraction as I get there.

Mega Tram

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When we visited Mega Caverns it was winter and the tram was not running, but here is the description stolen shamelessly from their web site:

The Historic Tram Tour will take you on an underground adventure rich in history, geology, mining, recycling, green building technology, and just simply HUGE in scale!

The man-made cavern spans under a number of roadways above and is part of 17 miles of corridors located beneath the city of Louisville, Kentucky. It’s a great tour for all ages—whether you want to learn about science and history or simply want to see what a giant man-made cavern of this magnitude looks like!

You’ll hop on an SUV-pulled tram and be joined by a MEGA Cavern expert who will guide you on your underground adventure. It’s a 60-70 minute tour, strategically lit to enjoy highlights such as:

  • Some Early Cavern Formations
  • A Historic Replica of the Cuban Missile Fallout Bunker
  • A Worm Recycling/Tasting Room
  • Sights and Facts of the Early Mining Operation
  • Hear About our Storm Dog and Pigeon Eating Hawk
  • And More Surprises Wait Around Every Corner!

Mega Quest


Mega Quest was the purpose of our visit.  We thought our daughter would enjoy it.  Our family enjoys exploring caves (see these posts on Wind and Jewel Caves and Mammoth Cave)  I’m guessing the facility was about 9,000 square feet, which would have been impressive in itself, but it was also 20 – 30 feet tall!  It was lit with cool blue, red and green lights.  It felt like the lights kept changing colors, but I am really not sure about that.  You climb around on 76 different challenges with a small zip line on one side of the course.  My daughter and her friend spent three hours there and would have continued had they not been so tired!


I was extremely impressed with the safety measures they have in place.  First, they provide  visitors a helmet and harness, but they go way beyond that.  They have a double hooked, self-managed belay system and seriously train everyone to always keep one hook attached.  The mechanism is also built to prevent both hooks from being detached at the same time.  I felt perfectly safe while my daughter was 30 feet in the air dangling on a thin rope bridge or zipping 100 feet on her own.


They say the course is good for everyone from about 5 to 90, but I think 5 is a bit young and while the course looked fun, I feel it is better geared to the 8 to 18 year old.  Of course I am saying this without actually having been on the course myself.

Mega Zip


My daughter and her friend were going to spend three hours on the Mega Quest ropes so I thought I would try something else.  Mega Cavern also offers underground zip lining.  I had never been zip lining, it was my near my birthday and Barbara encouraged me so I thought “Why not?”.  First, let me say I really enjoyed it.  I was in a group of 9 people, the max is 12 and it took us a good two hours to go through the course.  The guides were experienced, friendly and fun.

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The tour starts in the equipment area.  There you get your gear on and there is a short practice zip line.  As the participant you do nothing, the guides attach all the cables and basically take care of everything.  After the practice line you walk quite a way underground, past the entrance and the soon to be opened Bike Park to the first real zip line.  I believe the first is called the Highway to Hell.  It has fun, campy decorations and it is a fairly long line.  I can’t remember the names of the others but they were quite long, one was some 90 feet in the air and the dual racing at the end was fun.

What I do remember was that after the second or third line we mounted platforms and did not touch the ground until the end.  Those of you who know me might find this odd, but I am afraid of heights.  While we were kept attached to dual guide lines the entire time we were off the ground and were perfectly safe, I struggled with the challenge bridges.  I really only felt safe once I was zipping through the darkness which is the part that scares most other people.  Go figure…

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Bike Park


The latest attraction at Mega Caverns is an underground bike park.  It is an off road track designed by Jeff Perkins and offers 40-plus trail lines covering 320,000 square feet.  The park is now open (it wasn’t when we were there).  Here is the spiel from Mega Caverns:

  • The only UNDERGROUND bike park in the world
  • The largest indoor bike park on the planet!!!
  • No spectators allowed at this time
  • 320,000 square feet
  • 10 stories or 100 feet underground
  • Over 45 trails
  • Bike rental available in April 2015 (not available now)
  • Helmets are required


For the Mega Quest and Zip Lining, probably also for the bikes they offer pictures. They come in two price points – generic and personal.  The personal tag costs $10 and you get unlimited pictures.  The generic tag takes pictures as well, but they cost more at the end.  We purchased the personal tag (which you get to take home), but I was disappointed with the pictures.  There were a couple of stock pictures (see below), but most of the pictures of me and my daughter were blurry, too dark, or of someone else or I was looking away.  I  would recommend sticking with the generic tags and if you get a good picture, pay the price.

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My only complaint, although that is probably too strong a word, with the Mega Caverns is the cost.  The zip lining was $80, the Mega Quest was $40.  My choice on the pictures added another $10 to that.  For the Mega Quest it works out to about $14 an hour which isn’t too bad.  At $40 an hour for the zip line it was somewhat expensive, but I would consider doing it again.  The gift shop has items of decent quality, but of tourist attraction gift shop prices.  The bike park seems to be very reasonably priced.


Mega Caverns is a fun adventure with something for the whole family.  For those who can’t or don’t want to walk there is the tram.  For those more adventurous there is Mega Quest and if old / large enough (you need to be at least 75 lbs) there are the zip lines. The cavern has other events, particularly at Christmas and it is a decent value. Both my daughter and I enjoyed our adventures and we will go back.  Hopefully Barbara will go on the zip lines with us!

Travel – Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory

Louisville Slugger sign 1In celebration of baseball season starting at the end of March, I thought it would be a great time to let you know about a trip we took to the Louisville Slugger Museum in 2010.  There were four of us on this trip and we were excited to see the baseball bat factory tour and the baseball memorabilia exhibits, especially my husband and son.

The Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory is located in Louisville, Kentucky and is one of the city’s most popular attractions.  Outside, in front the building, visitors are greeted by a huge baseball bat to announce that it is the Louisville Slugger Factory where Hillerich & Bradsby Co. manufacture their brand of baseball bats.  The building also serves as the Louisville Slugger Museum and corporate headquarters.

In the front lobby is a Signature Wall where there are thousands of famous baseball players’ signatures that were “burned” onto their Louisville Slugger bats.  There is also a special section honoring the players and managers that have contracted with Louisville Slugger and been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.  After purchasing our admission tickets at the box office, we received a timed factory tour ticket.  We had some time before our tour started, so we went to an area in the museum called Bud’s Batting Cage.  The batting cage is named in honor of Bud Hillerich, who in 1884 made the first Louisville Slugger bat.  Visitors to the batting cage can use replica bats of baseball legends, such as: Babe Ruth and Ted Williams.

Factory tour 1

Finally, it was time for our Louisville Slugger Factory tour.  The guided tour lasts approximately 30 minutes.  To start the tour, our guide gave a brief history of the Louisville Slugger company and the baseball bat production process.  Then we had the opportunity to see the bats being made in the factory.  We stopped at the different stations on the production line and the guide explained each process.  At the end of the tour, everyone receives a miniature Louisville Slugger souvenir bat.

When we exited the tour, there is an area where we walked among life-size mannequins of baseball legends like Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Joe Di Maggio, Ken Griffey Jr. and Derek Jeter.   Also in this area is the Grand Slam Gallery, where there are displays of the bats of some of the past and present greatest hitters of the game of baseball, including Mickey Mantle, Johnny Bench and Joe Di Maggio.  One interesting bat was Babe Ruth’s bat where he carved the notches for the 60 home runs that he hit within his record setting season in 1927. We took our time walking through the other exhibits of a variety of very interesting baseball memorabilia.

Babe Ruth's Bat     Joe DiMaggio's bet

World Series bats

Of course, after a tour and museum visit, there is always a trip to the gift shop.  In the Louisville Slugger Museum store there is an assortment of items, such as clothing and sports apparel, jewelry, key chains, home accessories and other collectibles.  This is also the place to order and pick up personalized baseball bats.  HINT: If you are planning on purchasing one of these personalized bats, place the order before taking the tour and visiting the museum.  That way the order can be processed, the item can be made and it will be available for pick-up before you leave the Louisville Slugger facility.

Big Bat Big Bat 1 Big GloveInformation on the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum

  • If you are waiting for a scheduled tour to start and have some time, go to the theater to see the 13 minute film, “The Heart of the Game”.  This inspiring film enjoyable insights and stories of hitting a baseball from some of the past and present top baseball players.
  • The Big Bat is located outside in the front and was positioned there, leaning against the building in 1995.  It is 120 feet tall, 68,000 pound exact replica of Babe Ruth’s Louisville Slugger, with the signature of Bud Hillerich who made the first Louisville Slugger bat in 1884.  The bat is made of carbon steel and hand painted to simulate wood.  It is hallow inside and if filled with water it would hold 30,000 gallons.
  • The Gove Sculpture is located near the parking lot elevator.  It is made from a piece of Kentucky limestone which is sculpted into a 34,000 pound replica of a baseball glove with a baseball inside.  It is 12 feet long by 9 feet wide and four feet high.  When it was delivered in 1998, the front doors of the building had to be removed to allow the massive sculpture to be positioned inside the building.
  • The Louisville Slugger Walk of Fame is located just outside the door on historic Main Street and continues for one mile to the Louisville Slugger Field located on East Main Street.  The bronze cast sculptures of a home plate are of baseball players selected by the Louisville Slugger management team.  The name and information of the inductee is engraved on a home plate with a bronze baseball bat leaning nearby.

A Breif History of the Louisville Slugger Baseball Bat

J. Frederick Hillerich emigrated from Germany first to Baltimore, Maryland in 1842 and then a move to Louisville, Kentucky in 1856.  In Louisville, he started a woodwork shop and produced everything from balusters to bedposts.  His eldest son, John Andrew “Bud” was born in 1866 who later became an amateur baseball player with a local team.

Bud began making baseball bats for himself and his team.  The legend is told that he made the first professional baseball player bat for Pete Browning in 1884.  Browning was a star player for the Louisville professional American Association team.  After Bud witnessed Browning breaking his favorite bat, Bud made an offer to make one for his hero.  After Bud made the bat, Browning used it to make three hits in the next game.  An interesting note:  Browning was as a powerful hitter with the nickname of Louisville Slugger.  Years later, as the Hillerich family began to successfully make a business of producing quality bats; they trademarked the name for their bats in 1894.

Initially, Bud’s father wanted nothing to do with making bats.  But Bud continued producing his bats for a growing number of players and he continued to make improvements on the manufacturing process.  Finally, when the bat production showed profits and increasing orders, Bud’s father made him a partner in 1897.  The name was changed to J.F. Hillerich and Son.

In 1905 Honus Wagner, nicknamed “The Flying Dutchman”, was a shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  He became the first big league baseball player to sign a contract to endorse the Louisville Slugger bats.  His autograph burned into the bat was to become a long tradition with the company.  The success of the Louisville Slugger bat was due to the fact that amateur baseball players were able to purchase a bat made exactly like their favorite big league player.

In 1911, Frank Bradsby, a successful salesman for the Louisville Slugger bats joined the company as a full partner and the company was renamed the Hillerich & Bradsby Co. and is the name that is still used today.  J. Frederick Hillerich died in 1924. Then, in 1937 a disastrous flood of the Ohio River significantly damaged one of the factories and some of the offices.  This event and the massive efforts to rebuild is said to have hastened the death of Bradsby later the same year.  Bud Hillerich died in 1946 and his son Ward took over as president of the company, but his term was short and he died in 1949.  Bud’s second son John Hillerich Jr then took over as president until his death in 1969. His son, John Hillerich III became president of the company at the age of 29 years old.