Caves Owned by TCC

The Texas Cave Conservancy currently own two caves, Avery Ranch Cave and Dies Ranch Treasure Cave. Stairs, decking and lights have been installed in Avery Ranch Cave and Dies Ranch Cave. The photo below shows caver Bill Larson in Wilcox Cave #3.

Bill Larson in Wilcox #3

Avery Ranch Cave

On September 18, 2011 Photographer Benedict Kim, Eunice Kim and Mike Walsh went to the Texas Cave Conservancy owned Avery Ranch Cave to allow Benedict to photograph the cave. The result is this amazing photo display of the TCC owned educational show cave.
To check out his other work go to:

Avery Ranch Cave Panoramic View

Two times a year, on CAVE DAY, it is open for public visitation.

History of Avery Ranch Cave

Avery Ranch Cave

On May 2, 2001 contractors, excavating a one-meter wide trench for a sewer line at Avery Ranch in Williamson County, cut into the side of a small, highly decorated cave. Caver Kimble White was summoned to check out the cave. He found a room twenty- five to thirty feet in diameter, up to eighteen feet high and filled with formations.

The following is Kimble's account of what occurred next:

"It was hit during trenching of a sewer line on May 2, 2001. I was the first to enter and explore it that evening. Hub Bechtol, Brad Sappington, and Kristin White returned with me the next morning and helped map it. We took clean shoes into the cave with us and changed into them after making it past the muddy trench...we used a long piece of bamboo to place the end of the tape at various locations for our survey shots so as not to have to climb on the speleothems.

To their credit the developer re-designed the sewer trench and the road it followed to avoid the cave. They gave up three lots on top to protect the cave and had the hatch installed on top to keep the speleothems from drying out. Others who entered the cave in that first week were Sylvia Pope and some others from COA, and Heather Beatty from TCEQ. Mike Warton came out later when I recommended him to the owners for installing the hatch.

An interesting anecdote: While Sue Hovorka (Edwards Aquifer expert with the UT Bureau of Economic Geology) was rewriting the TCEQ guidelines for conducting Geologic Assessments in the recharge zone, we took her to a couple of our field sites to help her with some ground level input on the methods involved. We probably walked right over this cave in the process of inspecting several of the previously identified CEFs that are sign of it at the surface whatsoever.

It's also interesting to note that we are very lucky that the trench intersected the cave where it did. Had it done anything else but just knick the cave then it may not have been salvageable, not to mention the fact that the trencher could have taken a serious fall."

On March 6, 2006 the Avery Ranch Homeowner's Association transferred ownership of this small, one room cave to the Texas Cave Conservancy. Since there was no observable cave life, Avery Ranch Cave became a potential site for an educational show cave. In July of 2007, the Texas Cave Conservancy signed a grant contract with the U.S Fish & Wildlife to develop Avery Ranch Cave as an educational show cave. Later that year the TCC started developing this site as an educational show cave, available to cavers and members of the public at no charge.

The developer had placed a concrete cap over the trench and a moisture barrier door on the cave. In addition, they installed concrete stairs part of the way down into the cave. During the trenching three 400-600 pound flat rocks had fallen below the stairs. The TCC moved the rocks to form a flat deck and Bill Larson installed rocks steps up to those put in by the developer. A plastic deck was installed in the cave to allow visitors an easy access. In addition, lights were placed throughout the cave.

On CAVE DAY September 15, 2007, members of the Maverick Grotto-Ft. Worth, Texas took over 500 visitors into the new educational show cave. TCC Staff member, Curtis Bullock headed up the first visits and continues today. Even though it is considered to be a small cave, most visitors were surprised to see "how large it is and how many cave decorations were in the cave".

Over the next few years, hundreds of Austin area visitors enjoyed the cave. The TCC had been assured by the vendor that the plastic decking would not mold or mildew, however by summer of 2009 the deck had to be replaced. Today the new decking shows no sign of problems and is still part of CAVE DAY. The TCC plans to expand the use of the cave that will allow more visitors.

History of Dies Ranch Treasure Cave

Dies Ranch Treasure Cave

This large sinkhole has been part of Williamson County history for a number of years. Located near the top of a hill, it was definitely a landmark. Over the years a number of people were involved in the digging both in the cave and nearby. Were they looking for Sam Bass gold or were they just looking for water? An eight foot diameter shaft fifty to sixty feet deep was hand dug about thirty feet south of the sinkhole.

Dies Ranch Treasure Cave

The cave will be available for public access when cavers are in the cave and during the two times per year CAVE DAY activities. The cave was part of the old Jack Dies Ranch. His father Martin Dies was a Texas Senator. The City of Cedar Park now owns the old Dies Ranch Headquarters located off Volente Road. The cave has been the site of extensive old excavations, perhaps searching for treasure or hidden gold. They have been looking for the gold coins hidden by outlaw Sam Bass before his death. The information below is posted on a sign inside the fence at the Dies Ranch Treasure Cave.

Dies Ranch Treasure Cave

Welcome to the Dies Ranch Treasure Cave Preserve. This lot was set aside to protect one of the most impressive cave entrances in the Buttercup Creek area. The Texas Cave Conservancy obtained the cave on May 16, 2006. Please feel free to visit the cave any time that cavers are on the site. Cavers and firemen will use the site for vertical rope training. In addition, from time to time, the public will be allowed in the cave. The cave was part of the old Jack Dies Ranch. The City of Cedar Park now owns Dies Ranch Headquarters.

Dies Ranch Gold Coins

The cave has been the site of extensive old excavations, perhaps searching for treasure or hidden gold. The tailing piles are evidence of the efforts. A fifty-sixty foot deep hand dug well was located thirty feet south of the cave. What may have started this search for lost gold?

The local outlaw Sam Bass and his gang robbed a train at Big Spring Station, Nebraska on September 18, 1877. They found 3000 newly minted $20 gold pieces in the safe. Over $60,000! After splitting the gold six ways, Sam Bass and Jack Davis left for Texas. Bass continued to rob trains while in Texas. He is said to have lived in a cave near Prairie Dell, Texas. While in Round Rock, Texas to rob a bank, he was shot and captured. He died on July 21, 1878. His body was brought to Austin for display.

The infamous Sam Bass was dead. Where was his gold? For several years following his death, people searched and excavated a number of caves in Williamson County. No gold was located. Today those 600 coins would be worth over $350,000. Feel free to keep any gold that you might find while visiting the Dies Ranch Treasure Cave.

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