1887 – 1925
Who was Floyd Collins?
William Floyd Collins was a celebrated pioneer cave explorer in central Kentucky, an area that is the location of hundreds of miles of interconnected caves, including the Mammoth Cave National Park. On January 30, 1925, while trying to discover a new entrance to the system of underground caves that were a popular tourist attraction in Kentucky, Collins became trapped in a narrow crawlway 55 feet below the surface. The reports about efforts to save Collins became a nationwide newspaper sensation and among the first major news stories to become a major sensation on the new technology of amateur radio.
After four days during which Collins could be brought water and food, a collapse in the cave closed the entrance passageway to everything except voice contact. Collins died of exposure, thirst, and starvation after about fourteen days underground, three days before a dug rescue shaft could reach his position. Collins' body was recovered two months later.
Collins is also noted for having discovered Crystal Cave in 1917, although another caver received credit for many years. Crystal Cave is now part of the Flint Ridge Cave System of the Mammoth Cave National Park. Collins is sometimes referred to as "The Greatest Cave Explorer Ever Known", and this is inscribed on his tombstone.
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