The NSS Bulletin - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 45 Number 2: 19-33 - April 1983

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Archaeological Investigations in Sand Cave, Kentucky
George M. Crothers


The Sand Cave site (Smithsonian no. 15BN19) includes Middle- to Late-Woodland aboriginal debris overlain and intruded by the remains of the 1925 cave rescue attempt to save Floyd Collins. It lies within Mammoth Cave National Park, in Central Kentucky.

Aboriginal materials are restricted to the sandstone rockshelter at the cave entrance; those collected from the surface in 1980 included a bone fragment, a shell fragment, and 64 stone implements and flakes. Historic 1925 materials were collected from the cave floor and from excavations made to reopen the cave passage; all historic artifacts found were removed, excepting 2 nails, electrical wiring, and shoring posts. Aboriginal materials have been deposited in Mammoth Cave National Park (Washington University nol 80-2352B); historic materials also have been deposited in Mammoth Cave National Park (Washington University no. 80-2353A).

Amerind artifacts collected in 1980 are too few to permit detailed reconstruction of the local culture and economy. Materials known to have been collected previously were not available for study. Historic artifacts found in 1980 corroborate the written record of the rescue attempt. They are tangible witnesses to the 1925 local culture and to the cave rescue techniques of that era.

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