LONGHORN CAVERN. Longhorn Cavern is in Longhorn Cavern State Park nine miles southwest of Burnet on State Park Road 4 in southwestern Burnet County. The area was once part of D. G. Sherrard's pasture, and the cavern was called Sherrard's Cave. When Backbone Ridge was formed several million years ago, water seepage formed holes in the underground limestone. By about a million years ago, these holes had become wide enough to form connecting rooms. The seepage became an underground river, and erosion and stalactite formation continued. The cave had several natural entrances. The number and kinds of bones found in it suggest that it was used as a refuge by predatory animals. In more recent history the cavern was used by Comanche Indians-hence the name "Indian Council Room" given to one of the chambers. The constant 65° F temperature and the layer of flint, useful for making tools, doubtless made the shelter very attractive. The Indians were driven out in the 1860s by the Confederate Army, which then used the cavern as a place to manufacture gunpowder. After the Civil War Indians again made use of the cave. Several outlaws, including Sam Bass, are thought to have sought shelter there as well. In the 1920s and early 1930s part of the cavern was used as a dance hall, night club, and restaurant. One of the rooms was used for theater presentations and religious services. In 1931 the state of Texas purchased the cavern and the surrounding ranchland for a state park. The Civilian Conservation Corps worked from 1934 to 1938 to clear the passages in the cave, to build levees for flood control, to dig drainage holes, and to install a lighting system. In 1932 the cavern and park were opened and operated as a concession by the Longhorn Cavern Company. Several private groups have had the concession during the years; in the 1990s the cavern and park were overseen by Longhorn Cavern, Incorporated. Eleven miles of the cavern has been explored, although the guided tour (offered several times daily, except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) is only a 1¼-mile round trip.
Image Use Disclaimer
All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.
For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl, "Longhorn Cavern," accessed May 31, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/rql01.
Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Get Texas history every day,
with day by day
Each day's email tells a little bit more of the story of Texas and links to our collection of more than 27,000 articles