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Profs & Pints: Trapped in the Earth
The Bier Baron Tavern
Washington, DC
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Profs & Pints: Trapped in the Earth
Profs and Pints presents: "Trapped in the Earth," with Alyssa Warrick, public historian and former instructor at Mississippi State University and guide at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky.

Oh, come all you young people,
And listen while I tell,
The fate of Floyd Collins,
The lad we all knew well
-Andrew Jenkins, "The Death of Floyd Collins"

The soccer team members recently rescued from a cave in Thailand were hardly the first to be trapped deep below. Come hear the tale of Floyd Collins, whose 1925 entrapment in Kentucky led to nationwide changes in environmental conservation and served as a cautionary tale for how not to conduct cave rescues.

From the 1890s to the 1920s, rural landowners in south-central Kentucky sought to make money by guiding visitors to their region through the caves beneath their feet. They descended into a ruthless competition for tourist dollars known as the "Cave Wars," which at times involved breaking into caves owned by their rivals to destroy precious stalactites and stalagmites. Among their chief prizes was Mammoth Cave, which, despite being a natural wonder, was not seen as large enough to be worthy of the national park status conferred upon Western sites such the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Yosemite. It was managed at the time by the husband of a Washington socialite.

In February 1925, Floyd Collins, a local cave owner, became trapped in a cave while exploring it. The effort to rescue him was the biggest human interest story of the year and would eventually inspire songs, movies, and even an off-Broadway musical. It failed, however, to bring salvation to poor Floyd, who died during the rescue effort. His body was eventually hauled out and put on display by the dentist who purchased the cave Collins had owned.

The death of Collins convinced many that the area's poor locals did not know how to manage the caves, eventually inspiring Congress to establish Mammoth Cave National Park. It also transformed cave exploration in ways designed to prevent such mishaps. Come to the Bier Baron Tavern to hear from a scholar of the incident and its impact.


The Bier Baron Tavern (View)
1523 22nd St NW
Washington, DC 20037
United States


Education > Classes
Other > Green
Other > Political

Kid Friendly: Yes!
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!


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