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Is Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave Haunted?

haunted mammoth cave kentucky

The largest known cave in the world, Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave features 392 miles of interconnected passages. Despite its popularity with tourists, folks know Mammoth for much more than its awe-inspiring size and stunning gypsum flowers. Legend has it a number of spooks haunt the vast cavern, including tourists from days gone by, a mischievous woman who left a man to die, and Floyd Collins, an adventurous explorer who died after becoming wedged in a tight passageway.

Tourists from Beyond the Grave
According to a report on, a few rangers in Mammoth Cave have spotted visitors who don’t seem to belong. Dressed in old-fashioned clothing, the visitors hang back from the main tour groups and disappear before everyone exits the cave. At times, tourists interrupt a ranger’s speech to ask about the strange man (or woman) lurking in the shadows. Another ranger reported that someone, or something, shoved her as she was leading a lantern-lit tour in the cavern.

Update: A reader recently shared this story of his experience in Mammoth Cave.

“This July 2018, my sister and I went on a tour in Mammoth Cave. At one point, the ranger asked everyone to turn off or cover all light sources so we could see how dark the cave was. We did, and I heard a woman’s voice behind me. She was clearly upset about something. A moment later, a man behind me said, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ Then, I felt a hand move across my wrist and cover my watch for about 2-3 seconds.

Later, when the light came back, my sister asked if I’d heard the commotion. She said that the woman claimed someone had grabbed her. I told my sister that I felt her hand touching my wrist. She swore she never touched me. We soon realized that something, or someone, touched that woman, that man, and me while the lights were off.”

Melissa’s Prank
Another legend tells of a woman named Melissa who led a friend (or ex-lover, depending on the version) deep into Mammoth Cave. As a joke, Melissa left the man to find his own way back, but the unfortunate friend never returned. Some say Melissa roams Mammoth Cave today, searching for the man she unwittingly left to die. Rangers have reportedly heard a woman’s voice calling from deep within the cave’s passageways, as well as screams and garbled voices. According to an article in Knickerbocker Magazine, Melissa confessed the sordid tale on her deathbed before succumbing to tuberculosis. Could this be why some rangers have heard violent coughing deep within the tunnels of Mammoth Cave?

Update: Turns out the tale of Melissa leaving a man behind is a short story from 1858, “A Tragedy of the Mammoth Cave” by Lillie Devereaux Blake

The Tragic Tale of Floyd Collins
By far, the most disturbing tale involving Mammoth Cave is that of the ill-fated Floyd Collins. An enthusiastic spelunker, Floyd became trapped in a narrow tunnel one day after a rock collapsed on his leg and pinned him to the spot. Floyd’s friends and family worked for nearly two weeks to set him free, and their tireless efforts attracted the attention of the media and tens of thousands of curious onlookers. Sadly, the effort was all for naught as Floyd died just three days before rescuers reached him. To add insult to injury, the man who purchased the cave and family farm from Collins’ father exhumed Floyd’s body and displayed it at the entrance to Crystal Cave for many years. At one point, the body was stolen but was eventually recovered, minus the injured leg. Is it any wonder, then, that Floyd reportedly haunts the area, screaming for help and begging to be rescued from his stone tomb?

Have a weird experience at Mammoth Cave? Share your story here!

Want to read more? Check out Scary Stories of Mammoth Cave.



Ghost and Ghouls

by cnkguy
Is Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave Haunted?

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