A Geological Wonder
By Walter Beneze
The Natural Bridge Caverns in Central Texas are a geological wonder to witness firsthand. Located between San Antonio and New Braunfels near Canyon Lake, Texas, they are accessible by anyone with a vehicle and a desire to explore.
In 1960 four college students were exploring an area under a 60-foot limestone bridge on a ranch. On the fourth trip to the site, one of them felt a cool breeze blowing up from a small hole in the rock, a passageway to the underworld caverns.
Crawling into the small 2-foot opening and down into the earth the way they went in is something I could never imagine doing. Thankfully they did, and in the process, discovered two miles of passages through the caverns.
The first half-mile has been developed with handrails and walkways big enough to walk thru and showcases some of the most spectacular formations I have ever seen. They installed doors at both ends to control access, and more importantly, to keep the humidity levels at a constant 99%. While this makes an ideal environment for the cave to continue developing, it is hot when reaching the lowest level of 180 feet below ground. Passing so closely by stalactites and stalagmites offered the opportunity to see and take pictures; however, the guide stated that collecting any of them is a class 3 felony. Needless to say, don't grab anything for your collection.
The more extensive caverns opened to massive columns and chandeliers, with flow-stones and soda straws appearing in other places. Pictures do not do justice to the raw beauty of the site; a trip to see it in person is the only way to appreciate the cavern fully.
To top off an exciting cave tour, lying in a flower bed next to the gift shop was the largest fully polished piece of petrified wood I have ever seen. This trunk was a y shaped piece at least five feet long and almost two feet around.
Story and Photos by Walt Beneze