For "Travel Tuesday", let's visit the underground of TX:
History & Discovery
"In March of 1960, Orion Knox Jr., Preston Knodell, Al Brandt and Joe Cantu, four college students from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, obtained permission to explore the area that is now Natural Bridge Caverns. The students were convinced that large underground passages existed under the amazing 60-foot limestone bridge. On their fourth expedition, Orion felt a cool draft from a rubble-filled crawlway. Such air currents often indicate the presence of additional rooms or passages.
The explorers made their way carefully climbing and crawling through two miles of vast cavern passage. After making this amazing discovery, they returned to the surface to tell the landowners. The discoverers knew immediately what an astonishing find they had made and the land owners decided to develop the first 1/2 mile, the most spectacular part of the caverns, for the enjoyment of guests from around the world.
That first 1/2 mile is now the Discovery Tour. Natural Bridge Caverns Discovery Tour was developed with two main goals in mind: preservation of the cavern environment and comfort of its guests. The result is one of the world premier show caverns, and one of the most popular attractions in Texas. "
The cavern formed by an underground “river” moving slowly through cracks and pores within the limestone. Rainwater seeping through cracks started dissolving the limestone. In time, the original narrow cracks or joints enlarged to form huge underground conduits or passages.
Perhaps due to changes in climate, vegetation, or other natural forces, the water drained to lower levels within the earth. As the water left the upper passages, it moved deeper and started forming a second level. The water eventually moved to another level even deeper within the earth. As the water left the lower level, stresses within the rock led to many of the layers collapsing to form break-out domes. This final stage of collapse led to the creation of the passages our visitors now see.
Natural Bridge Caverns, while already on the list of fun things to do in San Antonio, has now been listed in the National Register of Historical Places (NHRP), a designation given by the U.S. Department of Interior for sites that have an important role in preserving cultural history.
In 1964, development-related excavations took place at Natural Bridge Caverns to enlarge the entrance, provide a walkway, and develop a trail system inside the cavern. During the original trenching of the entrance, several diagnostic projectile points dating back approximately 10,000 years were salvaged. Additionally, several other stone tools were recovered during this phase of development, including hide scrapers, gouges, knives, and drill fragments.
Staff from the Texas Memorial Museum and the Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory of the University of Texas visited the site and surface collected a sample of faunal remains uncovered by the construction. Some specimens belonged to species that became extinct about 12,000 years ago.
In June of 2003, the staff from the Center of Archaeological Research (CAR) from the University of Texas at San Antonio conducted a dig at the entrance of the caverns. Artifacts uncovered include a prehistoric looking hearth, stone tools, projectile points, and charred plant remains. People from long ago used these artifacts to hunt, cook, and make tools. They help us learn about what life was like for early inhabitants of the Texas Hill Country.
Now Hiring TOUR GUIDES"Natural Bridge Caverns has full and part time Tour Guide positions available. We are seeking outgoing individuals interested in a unique and fun work opportunity. Applicants must be responsible, dependable, enjoy working with the public and be able to give as many as five caverns tours per day. Experience in the Hospitality industry is a plus, but not required. Tour Guide/Guest relations training is provided. Please apply in person at the Natural Bridge Caverns admissions office.
For more information please call (210) 651-6101."
Natural Bridge Caverns: A Bridge to Another World. By a visitor:
"If you have seen the billboards for Natural Bridge Caverns around San Antonio, Texas, and wondered whether you should go and visit the popular local attraction, the answer is definitely yes. And, if you are wondering when you should do it, the answer is now (for reasons that will become apparent).
“The caverns have been known about since the early 1900s but their extensive [nature] wasn’t really known,” Travis Wuest, vice president of Natural Bridge Caverns, told me when I visited the site. His family has owned the surrounding land for more than a century.
“This was all ranchland and the sinkhole was just a pretty place to picnic,” Wuest said of the area spanned by the natural bridge of rock that is the namesake of the place. “It was always thought to be a small, very insignificant cave.”
“But in 1960, four college students who were amateur cave explorers heard about the Natural Bridge and the sinkhole and got permission from my grandmother to explore it,” Wuest continued. “On their fourth expedition here, on March 27, 1960, they discovered about two miles of never-before-seen cave passage, probably the first men ever to have seen it.”
Based on that great revelation, the family decided to open the caverns as an attraction. It has grown ever since and this year is celebrating the 51st anniversary of the cavern’s discovery and 47 years in business. Today, it is the largest series of caves open to the public in Texas.
“I’ve grown up here doing it and so it’s very much my life,” said Wuest, who is his 30s. “It’s a fun industry to work in.”
“The caverns themselves are spectacular,” Wuest said. “And they are absolutely stunning right now because of all the rain we’ve had. So, the pools of water are full, water is dripping and flowing, you’re going to get water dripping on you in various places. This is a really beautiful time to see the cave under pretty much ideal conditions. Because the water just adds a dimension to it and makes it even prettier.”
There are currently five different guided tours of the caverns available:
* The Discovery Tour begins at the mouth of the original cave, beneath the natural bridge, and goes through the first half-mile of the area discovered by the St. Mary’s University students half a century ago. Chambers as much as 250 feet long, forests of towering stone pillars as tall as 50 feet, and bridges over darkened chasms are among the highlights of this 75-minute trip through the underworld.
* The Illuminations Tour descends 180 steps down into a strikingly beautiful half-mile section of caverns known as the Hidden Passages that were discovered seven years after the main section (part of which is pictured here and in the next picture, below). Highlights include the glistening Diamond River, delicate, hollow soda straws as much as 10 feet in length, and all sorts of strange and unique formations.
* The Lantern Tour, which runs each morning at 9 a.m., is a new feature that is offered just once a day. In it, guests are guided only by a lantern and can get a sense of what some of the earliest explorers of the caverns experienced.
* The two Adventure Tours are for the most hardcore of visitors and start where the other tours end, going off the beaten path into parts of the two subterranean complexes that are not generally open to the public.
“Those are reservation-only caving trips to undeveloped sections of the caverns,” Wuest said. “You’re down and dirty, rappelling, crawling, climbing, hiking. It’s a great, great trip. Very different, though. On those, it’s down and dirty, you’re going to be very sweaty and muddy, and you’re going to be crawling. They’re a riot, a lot of fun.”
Natural Bridge Caverns is located just north of San Antonio at 26495 Natural Bridge Caverns Road, off of FM 3009 and eight miles north of that road’s intersection with IH 35 at exit 17. For more information about this great site, call (210) 651-6101 or go to www.NaturalBridgeCaverns.com. Amenities include a giftshop, snackbar, various informational exhibits, and the “Watchtower Challenge,” a climbing tower equipped with two 350-foot ziplines.
More about Natural Bridge Caverns:
Texas, Underground By U.S. Sen. John Cornyn
"The Natural Bridge Caverns take “deep in the heart of Texas Hill Country” to a whole new meaning. With depths reaching 260 feet underground, it is Texas’ largest-known cavern and consistently ranks as one of the state’s top tourist destinations. Discovered in 1960 by students at St. Mary’s University, the cavern, located just west of New Braunfels, has delighted visitors for decades with lantern-led tours, archaeological gems, and natural formations like “soda straw” stalactites occurring along hidden passages."
More at: http://cornyn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=TexasTimesWeeklyColumn&ContentRecord_id=4cbacba2-0516-4d04-be31-c9f1201b1490&ContentType_id=aadcc985-2f5a-4200-95bc-db553944e893&Group_id=d61fe758-2344-4644-91da-fc2bb3eaabbe&MonthDisplay=7&YearDisplay=2011
Well, we didn't go crawling underground, Jay and I went up in the storeroom attic and sorted out some stuff up there. We brought down the packages of blankets and comforters that had been earmarked for the yard sale. There is still a enormous amount of yard sale items to get down from that attic.
Most of the electric appliances have been stored in a hutch in the storeroom, and we displayed them on the card tables on the closed-in side of the RVport.
The breakables were put on the shelf above to keep them safe from little fingers. We haven't put the clothes poles up in the car port yet, and I now find out that Jay is bringing a lot of clothes, so we might have to move the appliance tables so that Jay can use this clothes pole under that shelf.
On the open side of the RVport, we attached the green tarps to their hooks on the other side of the lattice fence, so that the items can be covered up quickly at night, or if it rains.
Rain has been predicted for the last few days, so it didn't make sense to work on the cargo trailer which is out in the open, and have to roll up the tools in a hurry, then drag mud all over.
We only got about 20 drops yesterday, but it has obviously been raining for a while this morning, and our weather station says that we have had 0.28", so far.
We still don't know when we will have the yard sale, but everything is hidden and protected until that day.