Natural Bridge Cavern Tour
This was my third trip to the Cavern in the last five years, but I believe this is the first time that I have taken the time to appreciate the time line that the rock formations truly represent. Our tour guide explained that the caverns were first explored and mapped in the 1960’s and have been under continual exploration and development since that time. According to the website it is the largest commercially operated cave system in Texas, though not the largest in the United States. The original exploration of the caverns done by a group of four students from St. Mary’s University, Orion Knox Jr., Preston Knodell, Al Brandt and Joe Cantu led to over a mile of underground caverns being discovered. Over the next several months an additional two miles of caverns were discovered. Development of the caves into a public attraction started in 1963 and was funded by the property owner Clara Wuest and her husband Harry Heidemann. The family worked along with the original explorers of the cave to excavate the cave opening, install lights, and develop trails. During the excavation many items of archaeological significance including arrow heads, stone tools and some type of cooking device. Also discovered inside the cave was the Jawbone of a species of Black Bear that became extinct over 8,000 years ago. Additional drilling and exploration of the property continued to take place after the cavern opened. During 1968 drilling to the south of the main cavern detected a void that was then explored. The exploration of first one cavern and then later a second cavern led to the development of the Southern caves. Both caverns have a great variety of formations, many of which are staggering in length and or height. Several of the Chandelier formations are huge! The interesting thing about this cave system is that it is still growing and changing. There is still water flowing through the rocks from above so the formations continue to grow....
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