William Floyd Collins (Source: Mammoth Cave National Park)
An old newspaper article about the race to save Floyd Collins.
Tour guide Colleen Olson
A view of the steps leading into the cave.
by Adam Winer
MAMMOTH CAVE, KY (WAVE) – Mammoth Cave
is the longest known cave system in the world. It's a popular tourist
destination. It can also be a dark and dangerous place.
Some people say one early explorer is
still roaming the cave, even though he died there long ago.
"Sometimes people hear things, feel
things or see things they can't explain," said tour guide Colleen Olson.
Olson has been exploring the cave
system and collecting stories about it for more than 20 years. "Stories that
were passed down," she said. "Stories I heard from other cave guides."
One legend might not be just a story,
but a haunting.
William Floyd Collins was known as one
of the great cave explorers of his time. "A man who was trapped in a sand cave,
a separate cave, back in 1925," according to Olson.
After 14 days underground, Collins
died of exposure, thirst and starvation. His body wasn't recovered for another
two months. "And then, back in the 1920s and 30sm his body was on display in a
section of Mammoth Cave called Crystal Cave," Olson said.
Some people think Collins plays tricks
on them in the cave. But guides say Collins has also been known to help prevent
them from meeting his same fate. "For example," Olson said, "there's one story
that a caver told me that she was caving near part of the cave where Floyd, when
he was alive, would go caving, and she tripped and she started to fall, and
then she felt somebody grab her and pull her back, and of course she thought it
was her caving partner. So she was about to say, ‘Thanks, Richard,' thanking
her pal, but he was way on the other side. So then, when she realized it wasn't
Richard, she said, ‘Thanks, Floyd.'"
In live, Floyd Collins helped map and
discover the longest known cave system in the world. In death, he might still
do the same.
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