Meet Floyd Collins....a caver from the 1920s whose horrible death entranced a nation.
Collins was an avid caver who lived in Kentucky. His family owned the Crystal Cave, a cave which is connected to the Mammoth Cave System.
Unfortunanetly, few people visited Crystal Cave, due to its remote location.
Collins hoped to discover another entrance into the cave, one that would be more accessible to the public. This was serious business; if he could
find a better entrance, his family's fortune would be made. He found an entrance to the caverns, later named Sand Cave, and spent the better part of
three weeks widening the hole. Then, on January 30, 1925, Collins entered the cave system alone to try and find a new route to the Crystal Caves.
While squeezing through a particularly tight spot, which allowed only minimum room to move, Collins knocked over and broke his lantern. In total
darkness, he struck out with his foot to try and move himself forward. As bad luck would have it, his foot hit and broke a section of rock, which
then fell on his leg. Collins was trapped, 150 feet below the surface, in the dark.
Eventually, Collins' yells brought friends and family to his rescue. They widened the entrance, removed baskets of rocks and debris, but could not
move Collins or reach the rock that trapped his leg. They brought in a lamp to warm him, and fed him crackers to keep up his strength. Then they
called for help.
At first, the rescuers were local folks who tried to reach Collins. As time passed, news spread of the caver's plight and attracted national
attention. The story of the trapped caver quickly became the talk of the nation.
While rescue efforts continued, a Louisville Courier-Journal writer named William Burke "Skeets" Miller managed to crawl into the cave and sit
with Collins. There, for the next several days, Miller interviewed Collins on what it was like to be buried alive, trapped under the earth.
Eventually, his reports about the tragedy would earn Miller a Pulitzer Prize.
Although people were able to reach Collins, they could not move the rock that pinned his leg and kept him trapped. Each time they managed to move it,
it simply fell back into place. A surgeon was sent to try and ampute the leg, but was unable to do so in the confines of the cave. Eventually, the
cave walls began to crumble. Four days after rescue attempts began, the entrance collapsed. Collins was now buried alive, alone, in the dark. He
could communicate by shouting to those on the surface, but that was all.
Rescuers believed there was no point in trying to reach Collins from the now-collapsed entrance. Instead, they began to dig a shaft behind Collin's
position, hoping to reach Collins from the rear and remove the rock. Rescuers broke through the final layer and found Collins on February 13.
Collins was dead, starvation and exposure to the elements having taken its toll.
The rescuers did not attempt to retrieve Collins' body, perhaps fearing the task to dangerous. The shaft was filled in and funeral services held at
the cave site.
The family did not want Collins' body left in the cave. On April 23, 1925, the family managed to unearth Collins' body. He was then reburied on
family land near Collins' Crystal Cave.
When the land was later sold, the new owner dug up Collins' body and placed it in a glass coffin. The coffin was then displayed in the Crystal Cave
(now a tourist attraction) for many years. Eventually, the body was stolen. When it was recovered, the leg that trapped Collins was missing.
Afterwards, the body was kept in a chained coffin in Crystal Cave. In 1961, Crystal Cave was purchased by Mammoth Cave National Park and closed to
the public. The family had objected to Collins's body being displayed in the cave, and at their request, the National Park Service re-interred him in
Flint Ridge Cemetery on March 24, 1989. It took a team of 15 men three days to remove the casket and tombstone from the cave.
Numerous books, plays, and movies have been written about Floyd Collins and his terrible death. Currently, I'm reading Trapped! The Story of Floyd
Collins, by Roger Brucker and Robert Murray, and it is an interesting read. Another book about the event is titled The Life and Death of Floyd
Collins, by John Lehrberger. Here are some songs inspired by the event as well:
Well, ATS. I will admit this story has me captivated and sickened, all at once.
Can you imagine what it must have been like for Collins? Trapped in the dark for 24 hours before his family found him....then stuck in the cave for
four days, hoping for rescue? Only to have the entrance cave in and be reburied, left in the dark to starve to death.
That's the stuff of nightmares, in my opinion.
I ran across the story of Floyd Collins while reading this story about a caver named Ted
and what he encountered in the depths of the earth. While this story is supposedly fiction, Ted does mention Floyd Collins in his journal. That's
what sent me searching for more info about Collins.
I also read the book "The Descent" by Jeff Long (no relation to the movie). In this book, humanity discovers an entire new race of creatures that
live below the surface of the earth. This book enthralled and terrified me.
And, of course, there is the horror movie "The Descent," which also scared me witless. Here's a preview in case you haven't seen the movie:
Originally posted by smyleegrl
Wow, I thought more people would find this interesting. Oh, well. Can't always have a great thread.
Happy Sunday to you all!
Maybe they read it, as I did (well written and captivating)...but no spiritual enlightenment or alien intervention were at the end.
Sad story... Kept hoping something would turn it for the better.
One would think that the "Miller" guy should have been required to, or would have willingly shared whatever wealth he acquired on account of another
man's (& thus, that man's family's) tragedy...as Collins' legacy.
But - thanks for the read.
Are you into spelunking...or just interested in the fantasies of others' adventures?
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