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Tour groups hear echoes from the past at Longhorn Cavern State Park

The officers quarters at Longhorn Cavern State Park where visitors have photographed the figure of a young girl looking out through a window. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

(This story is part of The Picayune’s “Haunted Highland Lakes” series in October. Read previous stories on the “Chainsaw House” in Kingsland, Dead Man’s Hole in Burnet County, “Stretch” at Old Oak Square in Marble Falls and the Badu House in Llano.)


BURNET — When the lights go out, you’re never really alone. Especially if you’re in Longhorn Cavern.

“We’re not here by ourselves. People have come out of the cavern, on a regular tour, and said they’ve felt the hair on their neck go up as if somebody had just moved by them,” said Chris Utley of Longhorn Cavern State Park. “And others have said they’ve felt a hand on their shoulder, but when they turn around, there’s nobody there. We hear stories all the time.”

People have used Longhorn Cavern for eons, well before it earned its current moniker. But there are some folks who say a few of the earlier users still might have a presence in the cavern.

“The Austin Paranormal Group in 2009 asked to investigate the cavern, and they ended up getting more than they bargained for,” Utley said.

During the initial investigation, the group set up recorders and began asking questions. When they returned to their headquarters and began going over the recordings, even they were a bit amazed that they heard voices – even responses to their questions.

One of the voices apparently belongs to Logan Vanderveer. In the early half of the 1800s, Vanderveer was a Burnet County settler. He was a rancher, pioneer and ranger. As the settlers moved into the area, they often found themselves crossing paths with the Native Americans, and not always in a positive manner.

According to reports, during a raid on the area settlements, a band of Native Americans kidnapped a woman, Mariel King, and held her in the cavern.

The local band of rangers, including Vanderveer, enacted a daring raid and rescued the woman. Some stories paint Vanderveer as the hero of the rescue.

“(The paranormal group members) asked questions including ‘who are you?’ and they could hear him say his name on the recording,” Utley said. “Another one of the voices is apparently from Mariel. They both seem to have a presence down there.”

And it’s not just the paranormal group that hears things – or even records anomalies. People on regular cave tours often recount hearing what sounds like a group of children running and laughing through the cavern. But when they look where they hear the laughter, there are no children.

“But none of it’s threatening,” Utley said.

And it’s not all underground. People taking photographs of the officers quarters are often amazed when they look at their pictures and see, there in one of the windows, the figure of a young girl looking back at them. It would be easy to chalk this off as a young visitor making her way through the quarters, but the building is locked, and nobody is allowed inside.

“I don’t know how many times people have come in here and showed me pictures of the girl in the window,” Utley said.

The paranormal group and Longhorn Cavern State Park offers would-be ghost hunters or just interested people a chance to check some of the ghostly activity for themselves. They park hosts guided paranormal tours a few times a month. But since it’s Halloween, people can actually take one of the tours Oct. 31 at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.

“The (Austin Paranormal Group) guides get the emails from all the people on the tour, and then they all begin emailing photos back and forth from what they saw,” Utley said. “And people do get a lot of interesting photos. It’s really incredible.”

While it might seem scary at first, Utley said the tour is an educational one. But some things do happen on the tours. During one of them, the group had gathered and began asking questions of the spirits. At one point, a small rock dropped from an overhang to the ground among the group.

“People do experience something when they go down there,” Utley said.

Go to for more information or to purchase tickets.

1 thought on “Tour groups hear echoes from the past at Longhorn Cavern State Park

  1. Oh please. I just visited Longhorn Caverns and there was nothing of the sort. Spectacular sights yes, but they are of smooth rocks, cave crystals and tiny bats. I took hundreds of photos and those are what I captured. I wasn’t there looking for ghosts, and our tour guide didn’t mention anything of the sort. However, I did fall behind several times in an attempt to get more photos, so I may not have heard everything. Also, there is no mention of a paranormal tour, unless that is strictly a seasonal attraction. Nope, just a pleasantly cool adventure through a unique cave formed by water underground. People do like their stories though.

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