Whenever you’re traveling, one exciting thing that you can do is explore mother nature and witness the beauty she has to offer. Luckily, the city of San Antonio offers that kind of experience. The Natural Bridge Caverns are the most significant commercial caverns in Texas, USA. The name of this attraction is derived from the 60 feet natural limestone slab bridge that reaches the amphitheater setting of the cavern’s entrance. The Natural Bridge Caverns is full of several unique geological formations and speleothems, and it is located in Comal County, Texas, near San Antonio. The temperature inside the cave stays at 21 degrees Celsius, all-year-round with a humidity rate is a constant 99 percent. You can take a public tour here where you can go at least 180 feet below the surface. In this article, we are going to know more about Natural Bridge Caverns.
Students Preston Knodell Jr., Orion Knox Jr., Joe Cantu, and Al Brandt from St. Mary’s University discovered the caverns on March 27, 1960. During their fourth trip to the caverns, they found a passage that stretches for over a mile. Following explorations revealed that there are at least 2 miles of the journey, and today, it is known as the North Cavern.
After that, Orion Knox Jr. decided to assist the landowners in obtaining information as well as suggestions on how the place can be developed. The landowner named Clara Wuest wanted to show everybody the cave that is located in her property. That is why Orion decided to approach the Texas Park System and the National Park Service. Both entities agreed that the cavern should be under substantial and merited development.
However, they also told the landowners that they do not have enough funds to develop the location. That is why Mrs. Wuest decided to organize a fund development drive, and Orion dropped out of school to help her. Together, they started developing the cavern in 1963. The next year, they opened the cavern, and up until today, they still own and operate the cavern. In 1971, the cavern was declared as a United States National Landmark.
Explorations in the Caverns
When the entrance trail was being excavated, arrowheads, a human tooth, and spearheads all the way back from 5,000 BC were discovered. Aside from that, a femur and jawbone of the extinct species of a black bear were also found. This leads the experts to believe that the cavern’s uppermost areas were used as shelter by early animals and people.
In 1967, experts did some test drilling, and they confirmed that a large void that is about 90 feet beneath the surface existed just at the southern extent of the North Cavern. They also sent down a camera on the narrow shaft. The photographs that were taken revealed a large chamber filled with formations in the said location. That is why experts decided to ream out at least 22 inches of the original shaft and lower three men. They saw a large breakdown chamber, as well as several formations.
Further investigation of the chamber revealed a strong chance of another passage that existed beyond a pile of boulders and rocks. That is why in 1968, experts drilled through the area and sent another exploratory shaft into the ground. They discovered another half-mile of a cavern that extends to the south, and they decided to call this the South Cavern.
In 2008, the management decided to change the name of the passages. They called the North Cavern the Discovery Passages and the South Cavern the Hidden Passages. The development of new caverns continues.
Wildlife and Sinkhole Site
The Bracken Cave, which is located near the Natural Bridge Caverns, is home to one of the two large bat colonies in the State of Texas. The bats that inhabit the cave are called Mexican free-tailed bats. These bats help control the insect population, make an excellent food source for other animals, as well as help pollinate plants. That is why this bat specie is an essential part of the ecosystem.
Besides the caverns, you can also see the Natural Bridge Caverns Sinkhole Site, an archeological site on the National Register of Historic Places. However, the site’s exact location is not disclosed to the public to preserve artifacts that are important for ongoing research.