Floyd Collins Grave - Mammoth Cave National Park
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member ChapterhouseInc
N 37° 11.870 W 086° 04.400
16S E 582238 N 4117221
Quick Description: The grave of a famous man that is one of the reasons you came to this National Park.
Location: Kentucky, United States
Date Posted: 8/3/2009 11:01:54 AM
Waymark Code: WM6XVW
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Mark1962
Views: 8

Long Description:
A pin on the Ky map redirects you to the story about the museum.
(visit link)
William Floyd Collins
Born Juny 20, 1887
died April 26, 1925
Trapped in Sand Cave Jan 30, 1925, Discovered Crystal Cave Jan 18, 1917
Greatest cave explorer ever known
Floyd Collins
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
William Floyd Collins (July 20, 1887(1887-07-20) – c. February 13, 1925) was a celebrated pioneer caver in central Kentucky, USA. On January 30, 1925, while trying to discover a new entrance to the system of underground caves that is a popular Kentucky tourist attraction, Collins became trapped in a narrow crawlway fifty-five feet below the surface. Efforts to save him became a worldwide media sensation, the first such of the 20th century. After four days where he could be fed, a cave-in closed the entrance passageway to everything except voice contact. Collins died of exposure and starvation after about fourteen days underground, three days before a rescue shaft could reach his location. His body was recovered two months later.

Collins is noted for having discovered Crystal Cave in 1917, although someone else received credit for this discovery for many years; Crystal Cave is now part of the Flint Ridge Cave System of Mammoth Cave National Park. He is sometimes referred to as "The Greatest Cave Explorer Ever Known" and this epitaph is inscribed on his tombstone.

Trapped in Sand Cave
The Collins family owned Crystal Cave, a tourist cave in the same general area as Mammoth Cave. Although particularly beautiful, Crystal Cave experienced a disappointingly low amount of business because of its relatively remote location. Collins wanted to find another entrance to Mammoth or a new cave along the road leading to Mammoth in order to more easily draw off some of those tourists. Collins made an agreement with three farmers with land closer to the main highway in the area: if he found a cave with commercial potential on their land, the owners would pay to develop the cave, and Collins would share in the proceeds from operating it as a tourist attraction. Working alone over a period of three weeks, he explored and expanded a hole that would later be dubbed "Sand Cave" by news media.

On January 30, 1925, after a few hours work, Collins managed to squeeze through various narrow passageways: he claimed that he had discovered a large chamber, though this claim was never verified. Because his lamp was dying, he had to leave quickly, before exploring the chamber. He became trapped in a small passage while on his way out. He accidentally knocked over his lamp, putting the light out, and then he dislodged a rock from the ceiling, pinning his leg. It was later discovered that the rock weighed only 26½ pounds (12 kg), but it was wedged in such a manner that neither he nor rescuers could reach it.

He was trapped only 150 feet (50 m) from the entrance. After being found the next day by friends, hot food was taken to Floyd, and an electric light bulb was run down the passage to provide him light and some warmth, and he survived for over a week while efforts to rescue him were made. The cave passage used to reach Collins collapsed in two places on February 4. The rescue leaders, believing the cave to be impassable and too dangerous, began to dig an artificial shaft to reach the chamber under Collins. The 55 foot (18 m) shaft and subsequent lateral tunnel actually intersected the cave just above Collins, but when finally reached on February 17 he was found dead from exposure and starvation. Because they did not reach Collins from the rear, the rescuers still could not remove the rock from his leg. Deciding it was too dangerous to remove the body, the rescuers left it where it lay, and hastily filled the shaft with debris. A doctor later estimated he had died three or four days previously, Friday February 13 being the most likely.

After the body was left in the cave, a funeral service was held at the surface. However, Homer Collins was not satisfied with Sand Cave as a final resting place for his brother. Two months later Homer and friends reopened the shaft, dug a new tunnel to reach the opposite side of the cave passage, and retrieved the body on April 23, 1925. On April 26, Floyd's body was buried on the Collins homestead near Crystal Cave (renamed Floyd Collins Crystal Cave). In 1927 Floyd's father, Lee, sold the homestead and cave. On June 13, the new owner moved Floyd's body into a glass-topped coffin and exhibited it in Crystal Cave for many years. On the night of March 18–19, 1929, the body was stolen from Crystal. It was soon recovered but the left leg was missing. After this it was kept in a more secluded portion of Crystal in a chained casket. In 1961, Crystal Cave was purchased by Mammoth Cave National Park and closed to the public. Most of the family had long objected to Floyd's coffin being placed in the cave. At their request the National Park Service re-interred Floyd Collins in nearby Flint Ridge Cemetery on March 24, 1989. It took a team of 15 men three days to remove the casket and tombstone from Crystal. There was some objection to this from cavers in Europe, where notable explorers are often buried in caves they discovered.

Reporter William Burke "Skeets" Miller from the Louisville Courier-Journal participated in and reported on the rescue effort from the scene, talking with and interviewing Collins in the cave, for which he received a Pulitzer Prize. His reports were picked up by newspapers around the country, and the rescue was followed with regular news bulletins on the relatively new medium of radio. Shortly after the media arrived, the publicity drew crowds of tourists to the site, at one point numbering in the tens of thousands. Vendors set up to sell food and souvenirs, contributing to a circus-like atmosphere. The Sand Cave rescue quickly grew into the third biggest media event between World War I and World War II. The biggest media events of that time both involved Charles Lindbergh – the trans-Atlantic flight and his son's kidnapping – and Lindbergh actually had a minor role in the Sand Cave rescue, too, having been hired to fly photographic negatives from the scene for a newspaper.

The notoriety of the rescue helped fuel interest in the creation of Mammoth Cave National Park, of which Sand Cave became a part. For decades fear and superstition kept cavers away from Sand. Eventually the National Park Service sealed the entrance with a welded steel grate to ensure public safety. Expeditions into Mammoth Cave revealed that portions of Mammoth actually run under Sand Cave, but not even a hint of a connection was discovered. In the 1970s, cave explorer and author Roger Brucker and a small group of explorers entered Sand Cave to conduct research for a book about Floyd Collins. The team surveyed Sand, and in the process discovered an opening in the tunnel collapses through which small cavers could crawl, revealing that it likely would have been possible to feed and heat Collins after February 4, 1925. They proceeded as far as the passage in which Collins was trapped, finding it choked with gravel debris and unsafe to excavate. In April 1983, George Crothers led an archaeological investigation that documented the many 1925 artifacts in the cave. The artifacts were then removed for preservation.

The life and death of Floyd Collins inspired a musical by Adam Guettel and Tina Landau, as well as at least one film documentary, several books, a museum, and many tales and short songs by cavers. Ace in the Hole is a 1951 film by Billy Wilder based on the media circus surrounding the attempted rescue of a man stuck in a cave; although this film depicts a fictional (but similar) incident, Collins is explicitly mentioned by name in the film's dialogue. The life of Floyd Collins is also documented in the books, Trapped! The Story of Floyd Collins by Roger Brucker and Robert K. Murray (ISBN 0-8131-0153-0), and The Life and Death of Floyd Collins by Homer Collins, as told to Jack Lehrberger and published by Cave Books. He is specifically mentioned in two novels by Kentucky writers Robert Penn Warren and James Still: The Cave and River of Earth respectively.

Kentucky-based rock band Black Stone Cherry has a song entitled "The Ghost of Floyd Collins" on their 2008 album Folklore and Superstition.

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ChapterhouseInc visited Floyd Collins Grave - Mammoth Cave National Park 2/4/2006 ChapterhouseInc visited it
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