Place

Floyd Collins Homestead

A simple wooden house with green paint and two front doors, sitting in a grassy field.
The Floyd Collins Homestead is one example of the early 20th century tourist boom to see show caves.

NPS Photo/ Deb Spillman

Quick Facts

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The Floyd Collins Homestead provides a valuable link with the early 20th century tourism of Mammoth Cave and has played an important role in early exploration of the expansive cave system. 

After Floyd Collins discovered the entrance to Great Crystal Cave in 1917, he and his family started a show cave business and began living at the Floyd Collins Homestead. The business ran for eight years until the death of Floyd Collins in 1925 in nearby Sand Cave. This tragedy brought a lot of attention to the Mammoth Cave area, including interest in the Great Crystal Cave, which the Collins family still owned.  

In 1927, Dr. H. B. Thomas purchased the Collins Homestead and Crystal Cave, renamed the cave to “Floyd Collins Crystal Cave,” and continued the tourism business. Dr. Thomas and his descendants operated the Floyd Collins Crystal Cave as a private show cave from 1927 until 1960 when it was purchased by the National Park Service to be included within Mammoth Cave National Park.  

The Floyd Collins Homestead also plays a significant role in cave exploration and cave science. The homestead was the first headquarters of the Cave Research Foundation, a group dedicated to the further exploration and understanding of caves and cave science. The Cave Research Foundation used the Floyd Collins Homestead as a base of operations for many of their expeditions to explore the Flint Ridge Cave System. In 1972, a famous expedition occurred that connected the Flint Ridge Cave System with the Mammoth Cave System and proved that Mammoth Cave was the longest known cave with a length of 144.4 miles (232.4 km) at the time of the discovery Since that time further exploration by the Cave Research Foundation and other organizations has extended the known length of Mammoth Cave to over 400 miles (643 km). 

Last updated: March 29, 2021