Longhorn Caverns

Posted on | July 20, 2010 | 2 Comments

Well, since the Goat Cave/Karst trip was a bust and J was begging to go and see a cave we decided to make the treck out to the Marble Falls area to see the Longhorn Cavern and do the tour. We packed a lunch and lots of water but not before checking the weather to make sure we weren’t going to get lots of rain. Caves and water? They don’t sound good together.

J and N didn’t know where we were going at first and then they got pretty excited when I told them. They have good memories of their last cave trip so they were looking forward to this one.

I managed my claustrophobia very, very well. I even got over my phobia of high ISO settings on the camera. Even if I did have a flash, which I don’t, they probably wouldn’t have let me use it. No flash other than the “normal” kind, no tripods, no monopods. I think the camera managed pretty well.

Here are a few of the photos but most of them are on Flickr, along with any descriptions I can remember.

This is what you see as you are heading down into the cave:

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In the 30s, the cave was turned over to the government. The state of TX brought in the Civilian Conservation Corps to clear out all of the mud in the caves and convert it to allow for the public’s visits. The CCC built the above building along with an administration building and an observation tower.

We were 2nd to the last to make it to the 11 am tour! We made it out of the bathroom with literally just a minute to spare!

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From inside the cave entrance area:

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Gratuitous “let mommy take your picture” pose and smile:

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Yes, gratuitous. They really were worried about getting left behind. The tour guide would turn off the lights behind our group as we went along and kept an accurate head count continuously. He said that three years ago, on the last tour of the day, a guide managed to forget 17 people and locked them in the cave. They got to the entrance using their cell phones as flashlights and were able to call 911. Needless to say, the guide doesn’t work there anymore.

Layers of limestone:

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Crystals:

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This is a man-made wall that now covers the original cave entrance:

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The “room” where we stood was the most used one in the caverns. It served as a meeting room for Apache Indians living in the area and they also hung out to build tools and weapons. During the Roaring 20s, a local who owned the property turned the caves into a speakeasy and the room was used as a dance hall. When the government took over, the CCC built the wall because this entrance allowed too much mud to enter the cave when it rained.

The ceiling, showing layers of limestone:

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I did miss the chance to photograph a cave cricket. “Completely devoid of pigmentation because of its environment” as our guide stated, “I’m not preaching evolution folks, this is called adaptation.” He used that phrase “I’m not preaching evolution” a lot.

The lighting in the cave wasn’t bad.

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It turns out a few years ago that someone got hurt and sued the state. So they swapped the 40 watt bulbs for ones with higher wattage. Unfortunately, that caused fungus to grow around a lot of the lightbulbs.

There were very few stalactites in the cave and no stalagmites at all. The reason was that the cave was built by rushing water running through relatively “soft” rock. The fast moving rock wouldn’t allow any stalactites to form or grow very long except for the highest parts of the cave.

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The black markings on the ceilings were left by bats. Before the speakeasy and CCC days, a colony of Mexican Free-tailed bats lived in the caverns until the noise got to them. The markings were left by the oils on their feet. Dirty feet? Yeah, me too.

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From the Rainbow Room, which looks that way because of the colored lights. When the CCC found the room, the guys thought they’d discovered a diamond mine and filled their pockets with crystals. That’s all they were, quartz crystals. This was the boys’ favorite room, by the way.

In the Rainbow Room

The “cowboy boot” on the ceiling of the hallway that lead to a chamber where the Confederates used to store gunpowder. They also used the bat guano to make gunpowder. But since the cave was so wet (way beyond damp), the gunpowder couldn’t have worked too well I think.

The cowboy boot

Back outside, having navigated the cave, the boys imagine themselves in a skateboard park:

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In and around what was the administration building, now housing an exhibit that explains the CCC and what they did for Texas parks:

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We were going to go hiking on the trail which was a little over a mile but J was tired and hot. “Didn’t we hike in the cave? Wasn’t that a hike?” Point taken.

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Investigating the observation tower:

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It doesn’t look like they used power tools to fell and mill the wood since it’s covered with hatchet marks:

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Words about these stairs: the boys would say “cool”, mom would say “textured” and abba would likely say “rickety”:

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Comments

2 Responses to “Longhorn Caverns”

  1. k.d.
    July 26th, 2010 @ 6:16 pm

    oh wow! WOW!

    what a day! thanks for all the pics! (and yea, you and the camera did a great job!)

  2. phisch
    July 28th, 2010 @ 11:02 am

    Thanks, KD. The boys and I had so much fun on that trip!

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