Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Natural Bridge Caverns

We attended church on Sunday at Peace Lutheran in New Braunfels before driving to the caverns. After first sitting down I noticed many banners on the walls, for all the seasons of the year. One which particularly caught me eye was the one above the baptismal font, pictured below.
I was told later that a church member, Betty, had died recently and she was the one who had made all the banners. As a memorial to her, all of her banners are currently being displayed. The above bannerbrought me realize that it is just as appropriate to have such a banner displayed for funerals as well as baptisms. After the service and lunch we drove a short distance out of town to the caverns. Before entering the caverns we saw the natural bridge of stone by which the caverns got its name, Natural Bridge.
The entrance of the cave was discovered in the 1930s. In that area was found the bones of a black bear, the molar of a Native American, and remains of bats and rats. There are no living creatures in the caverns today. What is left of the bats in the cave are piles of black guano, which we saw during our tour there. In 1960 university students discovered passages which led further into the cave. It was discovered then that the cave is 2.5 miles long(we only walked .5 miles into the cave, but 180 feet down). The underground world of this cave is quite impressive with its natural formations. The tallest column stands at the height of 50 feet. Below is a picture of the one massive room found in the cavern. Some of the formations can be seen there.
Any time you tour a cavern you receive warnings not to touch the walls. The oil on your hands can prevent the growth of cave formations. In these caverns there are no formations in the places where there is bat guano. However, there is little to prevent plant spores from being carried in on clothes. In the caverns there is one living plant, a fern, which was probably brought in on someone's clothes. Artificial light in that part of the cave then encouraged growth of the fern. One other interesting note; this was quite a humid warm cave, like about 80 degrees. Cave temperature usually reflects the average temperature of the air and ground surrounding it.

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