I arrived at the Mammoth Cave visitors center about 10 AM. I walked in with a “so now what do I do?” look and within seconds a park ranger walked up and made it plain that one of the supreme joys of his life was to help folks like me get the most out of their visit to the park. Within 15 minutes I was off on the 2-hour, 2-mile Historical Tour of Mammoth Cave.
The trip was interesting and the rangers guiding the tour were great. Now I have this cool “historical graffiti” joke to tell.
As I finished the tour there was one piece of unfinished business. I walked over to Ranger Rick and asked the one question that had been weighing on me: “Is Floyd Collins still down here?”
You see, when I was a kid I read this book about cave exploring that ended with the story of Floyd Collins. Floyd was a great cave explorer who got stuck in a tight space. People could hear him, but not get to him. He died in the cave. All these years, I’ve had the image of Floyd Collins all alone in that cold, dark cave.
Ranger Rick explained that Floyd died in Sand Cave, a cave that’s part of the Mammoth Cave National Park, and that Floyd’s body was eventually found and removed, put on display for a while, and finally buried in a nearby churchyard. I didn’t have time to stay for the Sand Cave Tour that afternoon, but I did walk down to the Sand Cave entrance and thought about Floyd Collins for minute and was glad they got him out.