A man trapped in a tiny underground passageway suffered the ‘worst ever’ death as 50,000 visitors watched on.
Floyd Collins from Kentucky, USA, began exploring caves when he was only six-years-old, which developed into a life-long hobby.
Back in the 1920’s, the US state was known for having ‘cave wars’.
Locals were inspired by the popular Mammoth Cave and began competing to uncover more locations in a bit to attract tourists.
And in 1917, Collins had discovered Crystal Cave. Hidden beneath his dad’s farmland, he went about developing it into an attraction for visitors.
But it was just too remote.
He wouldn’t give up though, instead setting his sights on Sand Cave.
Sand Cave’s location was way more desirable and it was right along Cave City Road – meaning tourists on their way to Mammoth Cave would be able to sop by on their way.
Collins agreed with the farmer who owned the property where the cave was found to share the profits, but the reason why it became such a tourist attraction wasn’t exactly what he’d had hoped for.
On 30 January 1925, he went into the cave for the first time.
With nothing but a single kerosene lantern, he squeezed himself through very tight passageways.
He discovered the cave opened up just 300 feet from the entrance into a mega 80-foot high subterranean coliseum, according to the Kentucky Guard.
However, Collins’ light was running out and he needed to get out before everything went dark.
In his rush, he dropped the lamp and tragically, in attempt to grab it, knocked a 27-pound rock which pinned his foot, leaving him trapped 60 feet underground.
A day later, it was discovered that he was stuck, launching a desperate rescue mission as engineers, miners and geologists arrived to help get him out.
Soon, people were showing up just to watch.
The rescue mission was a mess – arguments broke out between leaders on how to approach the situation and the workers also had to deal with horrible weather conditions.
Louisville Courier-Journal reporter William Miller, known for being pretty small, crawled into the dark to speak with Collins for a series of interviews that led to him winning a Pulitzer Prize in Journalism.
“My flashlight revealed a face on which is written suffering of many long hours, because Collins has been in agony every conscious moment since he was trapped at 10 o`clock Friday morning," Miller wrote, the Chicago Tribune reported at the time.
It soon became the top story in the nation, with the Kentucky Guard describing it as a ‘carnival atmosphere’, with vendors showed up to sell food and souvenirs.
With 10,000 to 50,000 people present at times and the national guard called in for crowd control, part of the cave collapsed on 4 February.
Eventually, when rescuers reached Collins on 16 February, they discovered that he was dead.
The family eventually removed his body in April 1925 to lay him to rest on the farm.
But two years later, a new owner of the land exhumed the body and placed him in a glass-topped coffin in the centre of Crystal Cave.
People actually tried to steal his body and eventually did in 1929.
But in 1989, Collins was finally given a ‘final’ burial at Mammoth Cave Baptist Church Cemetery.Featured Image Credit: National Park Service/ Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images