Caves on display at welcome center
Published 10:53 am Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Visitors to the Mississippi Welcome Center have a chance to step back in time.
Since June 1, a replica of one of the caves Vicksburg residents used for shelter during the 47-day siege of the city in 1863 has been on display in the welcome center.
Construction of the cave made of black plastic took several days and was the result of a popular request from tourists to visit caves in the city, said Debbie Dolan, supervisor of the welcome center.
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All the caves that were homes to residents in 1863 have even been filled in or deemed unsafe for people to enter.
“Since we couldn’t send the tourists to the caves, we thought we would bring the caves to the tourists,” Dolan said.
During the siege, cave construction became major business in the city.
“Caves were all the fashion — the rage — over besieged Vicksburg. Negroes who understood their business hired themselves out to dig them from $30 to $50, according to size,” Mary Loughborough wrote in “My Cave Life in Vicksburg, ” her memoir of life in the war-torn city.
The caves were typically large enough to hold a houseful of people, and residents brought in all the amenities of home.
“They would bring their household furnishings in,” Dolan said.
The dimly lighted replica cave on display features fine china, rugs, paintings and other household items.
Because of the caves, few civilians were killed during the siege.
“They were safety tucked away in the caves,” Dolan said.
The repolica cave will be on display though this weekend.