BURNET, Texas – Along the rolling terrain of the Texas hill country sits a sought after sinkhole in Burnett County. Known today at Longhorn Cavern State Park, this subterranean site in the Lone Star State has been must see for many, many years.
Evan Archilla gets to call this place his office and he started our stop with a visit to these unique buildings on the site that were built during the great depression.
“One of the things we’re most proud of at the park is the legacy that the Civilian Conservation Corps left behind for us, Evan said. “We have some of the best examples of CCC architecture here. They left a great legacy and it’s really one of the best places in the state that you can go to see that.”
The CCC was a public work relief program created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt that put thousands of Americans to work and is credited with creating many of the national and state parks.
“These great buildings you see were designed by national park architects in that NPS rustic style that you would see at Yellow Stone or any other national park that grew up in that kind of heyday of the 30s,” Evan said.
These hardworking labors also helped clear out the cave making Longhorn Cavern what it is today.
“These guys pulled 30,000 cubic yards of debris out of this cavern by hand and helped to develop it for people to enjoy,” Evan said.
Cosmo Omsoc doesn’t just have a palindrome for a name, he also sort of has that kind of personality. Whether he’s above ground or below, he is passionate about this place. So we went spelunking with this underground tour guide.
“The look on people’s faces when they come through the cave and get to explore it for the first time makes this job worthwhile,” Cosmo said.
In the 1920s and 1930s people threw parties in the cavern complete with dinner, dancing and a full band and orchestra, according to Evan. However, it turns out two stepping under the Texas ground isn’t the only great tale to come out of here.
“Everything from Comanche Indians and Texas Rangers and rescues happening down in the cave,” Evan said. “We had an underground ballroom and restaurant back in the 30s. We had the Confederates mining bat guano for making gun powder. Not that long before I was born we actually had the Department of Civil Defense down there with supplies for around 2,000 people that could, in theory, weather a nuclear blast during the cold war down in the cavern as a fallout shelter.”
During the winter months you will find a few Tri-Colored Bats, also known as Eastern Pipistrelle. These mouse like mammals won’t mess with you but they will melt your heart. As long as they sit really still. The real treat is getting a half mile into the ground and seeing some great geological gems including the Hall of Marble and Hall of Diamonds.
“This is not marble,” Evan said. “It is actually dolomite or dolomite rock. We call it marble because when the conservation corps first got here they thought they found marble. It’s not, it is actually calcium magnesium carbonate, but what’s fascinating about it is how smooth it is.”
From its amazing natural beauty, texas sized tales, and national park service rustic style architecture, Longhorn Cavern State Park takes the bull by the horns when it comes to hotspot on The Texas Bucket List.
“If you want to look at a unique cavern environment, if you want to explore the hill country, if you want to hear some truly Texan stories – every Texan should come to Longhorn Cavern state park,” Evan said.