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Longhorn Cavern State Park provides illuminating experience
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
Staff from Texas Parks and Wildlife, Longhorn Cave Tours Inc., area chambers of commerce, as well as volunteers and dozens of guests were on hand at Longhorn Cavern State Park July 19 to cut the ribbon and ceremoniously “reopen” the popular Hill Country destination, following a major renovation of the cave’s lighting system.
Some $700,000 of low-voltage quartz halogen lights, sophisticated switches, and miles of new wiring provide not only dramatic new views inside the cavern, but the system’s low heat output is better suited to help protect the cave’s delicate ecosystem balance. The renovation marked the park’s first lighting upgrade since the original incandescent bulbs were installed by the Civilian Conservation Corp during the 1930s.
“This is fantastic; it’s like coming down into the cave for the first time,” said Terry Rodgers, superintendent of the Inks Lake Complex, which oversees operations at the Cavern, which is operated by a private business contract concessionaire, Longhorn Cave Tours. “The new features outlined in the light are incredible.”
Once home to mammoths, ancient peoples, Confederate soldiers, and allegedly even Old West outlaws, Longhorn Cavern State Park today attracts tens of thousands of visitors to its 645 acres above and below ground. And park operator Michelle Devaney thinks that the improvements will help draw even more folks.
“The new lighting system puts into place a way for visitors to go through this cavern and see the features illuminated in a way that brings to life the geology and beauty. Taking out the old lighting also helps to protect and preserve this amazing resource for a long, long time,” she said.
For more information about Longhorn Cavern State Park, call (830) 598-CAVE (598-2283), or visit http://www.longhorncaverns.com, or http://www.texasstateparks.org.
More about the caverns
Longhorn Cavern State Park features Longhorn Cavern, a Texas Hill Country wonder created over thousands of years by the dissolving and cutting action of water on the limestone bedrock of the area. Fossil remains show that many Ice Age animals once occupied the cave.
Earliest records indicate that the Comanche Indians were the first to use the cavern. They came in about 400 years or so before anyone else did.
In more recent history, the cavern was used as a Confederate stronghold where gunpowder was manufactured in secret during the Civil War. The cavern is also rumored to have been the hideout of Sam Bass, a legendary Texas outlaw.
Longhorn Cavern is one of the few river-formed caverns in Texas.
Longhorn Cavern State Park is located on Park Road 4 in Burnet, Texas. You can access Park Road 4 by two different routes. Take U.S. 281 between Burnet and Marble Falls and exit to Park Road 4.
For more about the park, visit www.longhorncaverns.com.
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