This time on People that Went to Penn, we’re looking back a couple (hundred) years to one of our most interesting alumni. John Croghan, a graduate of Penn Med Class of ’13 (1813 that is) was the proud owner of the longest cave in the United States. If, like us, you have no idea what/where the longest cave in America is…it’s Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.
Croghan, researching treatment for TB, was an excellent multi-tasker and used the cave as both a place to treat patients and…attract tourists! Apparently the ghostly-pale TB patients were quite the spectacle, as were the wood and stone huts they lived in deep in the cave. Although this treatment plan sounds like sheer madness, Croghan did believe that the cool, steady climate might help alleviate some of TB symptoms.
Sadly, he was incredibly wrong. The patients got worse due to the cold, and worse still from the smoke they inhaled from the fires they lit in an attempt to keep warm. If you haven’t had enough irony yet, Croghan himself died from TB a mere six years after his crackpot experiment failed.
But, if you’re interested in seeing those fabulous huts, two of the eight remain standing today in Mammoth Cave.