Ever wonder just how the Central Texas Hill Country got to be the Hill Country? Visit Wonder World Park - you’ll not only discover the answer, you’ll get to see it for yourself.
Go from Wonder Cave to the Observation Tower here and you can see the power of an earthquake. How powerful? The one that happened here about 30 million years ago is what created the Hill Country.
Go underground almost 100 feet and see the actual Balcones Fault Line, the result of that earthquake that thrust up the earth west of the fault, then climb more than 100 feet above the ground to see how clearly the Hill Country’s Edwards Plateau separates from the relatively flat Coastal Plains east of the fault.
And that’s not a trivial matter. That difference meant travel was difficult to the west, easy to the east; that farming was good to the east, impossible to the west; that the Hill Country was sparsely populated while the Plains boomed. Even today, as you drive along Interstate 35, you are traveling the same route as El Camino Real, the Royal Road built by Spaniards hundreds of years ago along the edge of the impassable escarpment.
Mark Bevers discovered the cave in 1896, using it to hide his illicit distilling and gambling enterprises. Next came W.S. Davis who opened the cave in 1903 and gave the first tours by candlelight. A.B. Rogers bought it in 1916 for $50 and a gray horse. He developed the cave by putting in paths, handrails, and lighting. The cave was then sold to T.J. Mostyn in 1958.
“We have the opportunity to show something no one else can,” says Buddy Mostyn, president of Cav’n Club, Inc., the company that owns Wonder World. “Wonder Cave is unique among show caves. You can see an earthquake here and see the magnitude of it. You can see the Balcones Fault Line from space.”
Wonder Cave is a cool place. No, really... because it’s always 72 degrees inside the cave regardless of the temperature on the surface. Caving aficionados also find it cool because it’s the nation’s only true example of an earthquake–formed cave.
It was also the very first caves opened to the public in Texas. Other caverns followed, all but one in the Hill Country – Cascade Caverns and Cave Without A Name in Boerne, Caverns of Sonora, Inner Space Caverns in Georgetown, Longhorn Cavern State Park near Burnet, Natural Bridge Caverns near New Braunfels, and West Cave Preserve near Round Mountain.
It remains Texas’ most visited cave. Why?
One reason is because it is unique and educational, says Buddy, now in his 54th year running Wonder World.
“Except for size, whether you visit Mammoth Cave or Natural Bridge Caverns, all other show caves are the same, but not us. We’re unique and we educate visitors on earthquakes, devastating phenomena that happen all over the world.”
Wonder World offers something else that makes it popular: it has something for visitors of all ages in its 22 acres.
In addition to the cave and the tower, a new Earth Science Center tells the story of the headwaters of the San Marcos River and the Edwards Aquifer.
The Express Train takes you through Mystery Mountain to the Texas Wildlife Petting Zoo where you can feed deer and peacocks.
Then there’s the Anti-Gravity House, where everything is topsy-turvy and water appears to run uphill. Even when you know it’s an optical illusion, you can’t shake the feeling that gravity doesn’t apply here.
Wonder World also claims their souvenir shop is the largest in Texas and you’ll believe that when you see what’s inside — jewelry, rocks, magnets, toys, books, hats, and walking sticks to name a few of the 10,000 items.
“Wonder World is also the perfect place for family groups, office gatherings, birthday parties and weather does not matter,” Buddy says.
The bottom line about Wonder World is that after you go there, you’ll wonder why you never went before.
Wonder World is located at 1000 Prospect Street in San Marcos. For more information, visit the web site at www.wonderworldpark.com or call 512-382-6711.