Cascade Caverns


Useful Information

Location: 22km NW of San Antonio. Between San Antonio and Boerne Texas. I-10 west exit 543 then W.
Open: Labor Day to Memorial Day Mon-Fri 9-17, Sat, Sun 9-18.
Memorial Day to Labor Day Mon-Fri 10-16, Sat, Sun 9-17.
[2010]
Fee: Adults USD 11, Children (4-11) USD 7.
Groups (20+): Adults USD 8, Children (4-11) USD 6.
[2010]
Classification:  Karst cave,  River cave,
Light: electric
Dimension: T=20°C.
Guided tours: D=60min.
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography: August Siemering (1876): Ein verfehltes Leben, San Antonio, Texas, Freie Presse für Texas, 1876.
August Siemering (1932): The Hermit of the Cavern: A Novel of the Early Sixties..., Early German Settlers in Southwest Texas, translated and adapted by May E. Francis. San Antonio, Tex.: Naylor Printing, 1932.
Address: Cascade Caverns, 226 Cascade Caverns Rd., Boerne, TX 78016, Tel: +1-830-755-8080, Fax: +1-830-755-2422. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
Last update:$Date: 2015/08/30 21:59:19 $

History

 
09-FEB-1842land first chosen by the land speculators William H. Steele and Ludovic Colquhoun.
1875purchased by Dr. Benjamin Hester, a well-known physician.
~1880cave renamed Hester's Cave.
Fall 1931exploration by Alfred Gray and Bernard Cartwright.
23-APR-1932opened to the public, renamed Cascade Caverns by Attorney-General James V. Allred, later Governor of Texas.
1986sold to Jim Kyle and Jill Beardsley of Florida.
1992fifty-year flood, heavy-duty pumps installed in the Cathedral Room.
DEC-1992part of the movie Father Hood with Patrick Swayze was filmed on location.
2009new owner Scott Kyle begins renovation.

Description

The special feature, which gave Cascade Caverns its name, is a 30m high waterfall. It is viewed as the finale of every tour. Other highlights are several crystal clear pools. But pools and waterfall may be dry during longer dry weather conditions.

Short after the Declaration of Independence of Texas in 1837, every houshold received a piece of land. Patent #64 with Cascade Caverns on it belonged to Jose Ramon Arocha. It was unallocated and so William H. Steele and Ludovic Colquhoun, two land speculators bought it. During the following years the land was sold several times, but most likely none of the owners ever saw it.

The first owners who really lived on the land were Dr. Benjamin Hester and his wife Jennie Knox. He died a few years later and his widow sold the ground, but as he was the first owner the cave was renamed Hester's Cave after him.

At the same time the German author August Siemering (1830-1883) published a story called Ein verfehltes Leben (An Unsuccessful Life) in the Volksblatt, a German newspaper published in Cincinnati, Ohio. The author lived in this area between 1847 and 1853, so he knew the cave. The story tells about a hermit, who lived in a cave during the American Civil War (1861-1865). In the foreword he tells, that the story is based on events which happened in the early German settlements of the Hill Country. He does not tell the name of the cave, but many readers considered it was Hester's Cave. We also read about a German immigrant, who used the cave as a hideout during the 1840s, after he had tried to kill his wife's lover. We guess that is just a twisted version of Siemering's story, or his story is based on the legend. The official website of Cascade Caverns and even libraries mixed up the title of the story, and wrote Ein verstehltes Leben. The word verstehlt does not exist in German, and is most likely a misspelling based on the gothic font in which the German newspaper was printed. In gothic letters the s and the f look very similar. However, the story became widespread in 1932, when the English translation by May E. Francis was published under the title The Hermit of the Cavern.

In 1929 the ground was purchased by the family who still own the cave. Alfred Gray purchased the land and established Graymead Dairy which he operated until it was shut down by the Great Depression. At this time he remembered the cave at the far end of his ground, and wondered if this could become a source of income. He contacted Dan and Bernard Cartwright who explored caves in the area and had become quite knowledgable. The cave was originally a round hole on the pasture, explorers descended into the cave by rope. Later the side of the cliff collapsed and it was possible to climb down the ramp of debris. Right behind the entrance there was a huge stalagmite blocking the main passage. Visitors covered this part of the cave with graffitti and names, but before anyone had returned at this point. Alfred Gray and Bernard Cartwright explroed the cave with the goal to find more. They prepared well, with ropes, waders, flashlights, and a camera. Candles and matches were used to test the quality of the air. And they discovered passages, huge chambers, speleothems and the cascade.

Bernard Cartwright published a detailed article about the discovery with pictures in November 1931 in a San Antonio newspaper. Alfred Gray was poor, his dairy bankrupt, but Frank Nicholson read the article. He had worked at Carlsbad Cavern before, so he knew how to develop a cave and he found an investor, E. A. Drake from Canada who financed the development of the cave. It was developed in a few months, opened to the public in April 1932. The last chamber contained a silent lake and seven little waterfalls forming a gentle cascade. The huge chamber looked even bigger as it was reflected by the surface of the dark lake. The wife of the owner, Edith Gray, named the chamber Cathedral Room and renamed the cave Cascade Cavern because of this cascade. However, regular floodwaters have changed the room completely since then.

Since 2009 the cave has a new owner, the Richmond architect Scott Kyle. He started to renovate the site, which is now lighted by a modern light system with LED lamps.

There are legends that the cave was known to native Indians who regularly took refuge here. A chimney in the cave ceiling works like a natural chimney, so this was a comfortable shelter. This is probably based on the many findings in the cave, but actually the natural entrance was not very comfortable, as it was simply a vertical collapse doline in the middle of the field. Probaly the Indian remains were washed into the cave or thrown into it. Another legend may be true: the owner before the Grays, L. W. Menn is said to have lowered visitors in a bucket on a rope, which was lowered and lifted by a winch on his truck.

The cave is a rich source of Pleistocene fauna remains. The tusk of a mastodon, a mastodon shinbone, bones of saber-tooth tigers, and bisons were discovered. The story of the tusk is again a little fantastic. Legend tells, that several years after the original development the original passage was widened. The workmen discovered a 1.80m long tusk, which circled around a rock. It was covered by flesh and hair, but as it was contacted by air it disintegrated very fast. The tusk was broken and fragile, so it was decided not to move it. Today there are only a few fragments of it left, due to early souvenir hunters and flooding.

There are numerous endemic animals living in the cave. A salamander found in the lake room was named Cascade Caverns Salamander after the cave. Also two kinds of frog have been discovered, Cliff Frogs and Leopard Frogs. Cave Ground Beetles, Cave Harvestmen, and Cave Crickets also live in the cave. Prominent cave visitors are Eastern Pipistrelle Bats.


See also


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