The poor weather continued the whole time we were in the Texas Hill Country, but we found a way to escape the elements and still enjoy nature at the same time by heading underground for a guided tour of Longhorn Caverns.
Our guide was fantastic! He shared with us the history of this limestone cave, its legends, and its many interesting geological features. In the photo above he is pointing out one of the tiny bats that lives in this cave.
We all took a look at the bat, but I didn't snap a closeup. There is a very small population of Eastern Pipstrelle bats living in the cave. They do not hang out together and never leave.
There are several chambers in the cave. One of the largest is the Indian Council Room that was used by the Comanche for ceremonial purposes. The dark layer of hard rock running through the limestone in this room was used to make tools and arrow points.
Through the years, Longhorn Caverns has served many purposes. It was a place to manufacture and store gunpowder during the Civil War. It is said to have been a hideout for several outlaws including Sam Bass. During the prohibition era, it was used as a speakeasy, complete with dance floor, bandstand, and restaurant. And when Lyndon B. Johnson was president, it was designated as his underground bunker, should he ever need one while he was at his Texas ranch.
It is easy walking through most of the cave. However, there is 20-foot section of the tour where the height of the ceiling averages about four feet. It is referred to as the Lumbar Tunnel, because you have to walk bent over to get through it. I wondered if I would feel claustrophobic through this part when we were told about it at the beginning of the tour, but it turned out to be wide enough that I never felt closed in and no one else had trouble with it either.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) worked to clear the passages in the cave and make it what it is today. According to our guide, they were paid a dollar a day—$30 at the end of the month, $25 of which they sent home to their families, keeping only $5 for themselves.
Our tour of Longhorn Cavern was the highlight of our trip. I've been in other caves before, some with more colorful formations, but this is by far my favorite!