Mammoth Caves

January 25, 2016

The Mammoth Cave in Kentucky is the world’s longest cave system and said to be known as one of the scariest places on earth, with a documented 150 occasions of unexplainable paranormal activity. And rightfully so, as the stories that surround this hiking trail and cave system are even more disturbing than the unexplained ghostly encounters.

Violet City Lantern Tour

Tuberculosis Hut in Mammoth Cave

Tuberculosis Hut in Mammoth Cave [image: nhigh / Flickr]

This trail system consists of three separate trails; the first one being the Violet City Lantern Tour. This land was bought by a Dr. John Croghan in 1839. He and his slave, Stephan Bishop, were some of the first people to explore the system. While exploring, the doctor came up with a very interesting idea. He believed that the cave’s constant 54° temperatures was the answer to curing Tuberculosis. This motivated him to try to build a hospital within the cave system. By 1853, he had built 11 patient rooms and 15 patients moved in under the impression that they had found a miracle cure.

Unfortunately, there was no miracles that happened within this cave system. Within the first year, two of the patients died and the remaining patients continue to get worse. Dr. John Croghan also fell victim to tuberculosis 20 years later.

A few of the cabins still exist and can be viewed during the tour. In front of one of the cabins is a stone where the bodies of the dead tuberculosis patients were placed before they were removed from the cave. It is called “Corpse Rock” and some say if you listen long and hard enough you can hear coughing in that section of the cave.

Heritage Trail [image: Mike Buford / Flickr]

Many of the tour guides that work within this cave system have reported several strange and ghostly happenings while giving the tours. They believe that the caverns are haunted not only by the deceased tuberculosis patients, but also by the explorer Stephan Bishop who is buried not too far from the cave’s entrance.

Heritage Trail

The caverns are not the only things that are haunted in this area, park employees have also spotted strange occurrences on the Heritage Trail. One instance involved them seeing a pair of legs that was walking down the trail with no body attached.

Sand and Crystal Caves

The last trail in this park’s story is even more disturbing than the first, on the Sand and Crystal Caves trail, a man named Floyd Collins fell to his untimely death. Collins was a poor Kentucky man who believed that he could find a passage in between the Crystal and Sand Caves and then sell guided tours. During his exploration, on January 30, 1925 he became trapped by a 27 pound rock.

Still alive he struggled to get himself free from the cave but he couldn’t as his arm was trapped. The rescue efforts went on for over a week, and as time passed Collins got more and more desperate for his freedom. He sobbed and begged his rescuers, the media, and other spectators that crowded around to come join him as he needed company to ease the loneliness and whiskey to ease the pain. Yet, he got neither of those and by the time rescuers were able to reach him he had already passed.

William Collins Tombstone

William Collins Tombstone [image: Dave Riggs / Flickr]

If that tragic story wasn’t enough, he also wasn’t allowed a proper burial. For 64 years, his body was on display as a tourist attraction. Until one night a group of midnight grave robbers stole his body from the caverns hoping for some kind of financial gain. His body was later found by the Green River mangled and entangled and minus one leg. At that point he was moved to the cemetery of Flint Ridge.

Many cave explorers and Park service employees have come across several encounters with him after his passing they state that they’ve heard him crying out phrases like “help me, Johnny, I’m trapped!” Outside of the wailing screams they have also felt his presence on several different occasions.

Information from:

Haunted Hikes: Spine-Tingling Tales and Trails from North America’s National Parks by Andrea Lankford


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