Robber Baron Cave Nov 6


Robber Baron Preserve Web Site and History             

CLICK HERE to View  NEW "cave memories" from the sixties

Nov 6 PHOTOS can be found at our private shutterfly share site

Re-Cap:  - WOW! FUN!  We split into two groups for different experiences, both challending, but one a bit more challenging.


THANK YOU Emily for the yummy lunch spread by Emily's Catering

Spelunkers in our underground Tour:

Gordon Stevenson, organizer
Toni Schmid Stevenson
Mike Lyman
Karen McNish
Joan Lyman (Mike's 84 yr old mom - WOW! )
John Heaney
Gary Gates
Sasha Gates (Gary's daughter)
Mary O'NEILL Kimball
John Kimball
Bob Comer
Bill Harshenay
plus 4 TCMA Volunteers to guide us and keep us safe

Up Above Ground Team:  Emily Miller Scano & Max Weir

pitch dark, we were glad to have our headlamps.  Gordon behind John, behind Toni

Mike Lyman followed by our guide

John Heaney crawling through a narrow passageway, followed by Bill Harshaney

Toni keeping 3-point contact - 1 butt, 2 feet - to scoot through this passageway

Bob Comer ducks through a low spot. We did plenty of ducking, crouching, crawling, scooting, climbing as we made our way.

Sunday, November 6 - AHHS Class of '71 and their Guests:  Visit Robber Baron Cave - in conjunction with our Class Reunion

Tour descriptions below

Non-cavers - Claustrophobic?  Bad knees?  If crawling around down under make you queasy, no worries, you're the majority.  Come join us at the ABOVE GROUND visitors' park, and learn about the history of this infamous cave.  No RSVP necessary if you staying above ground.

Cost per person for underground Tour:  Donation to the Preserve (we will collect on Nov 6th)

Make your Underground Tour Reservations NOW.  TCMA is opening the cave just for us.  It is normally not open to the public. 

RSVP to to reserve your spot in the underground spelunking tour.  Each tour is limited to 15-20 participants.  First Come First Serve.

Tour Descriptions & Logistics from Robber Baron Preserve Manager, Joe Mitchell 

General Information

Robber Baron Cave is a wild cave located in the middle of a well established neighborhood in San Antonio, just north of Alamo Heights. The cave has a long and storied history dating to the 1800’s and was a commercial cave in the 1920’s and 30’s and a speakeasy during prohibition. The cave is also home to two endangered species found nowhere else in the world. The cave is currently owned and protected by the Texas Cave Management Association to preserve the cave, its wildlife and its history. 

TCMA has developed the surface of the cave as a park, open for public visitation. The cave itself is only open for special tours. Helmets, headlamps, kneepads, and gloves will be provided. Visitors should wear durable footwear such as boots or sturdy shoes with good soles for rough terrain. Long pants such as jeans are highly recommended. The cave is warm with 100% humidity so a short sleeve shirt is preferred. Visitors are welcome to bring cameras and water with a small pack being preferred to keep your hands free.

* Bring plenty of water for hydration.
** Prepare to get dirty, so a change to clean, dry clothes afterwards is recommended.

Note that entering the cave involves sliding while sitting or crawling though the approximately 20" x 20” gate.

Tours BEGIN 10:00AM - We will split our tour into two groups:

Cost: Donation to TCMA (cash or check)

Adventure Tour:  This tour will be more strenuous including significant crawling, some climbing and traversing. Participants in this tour should be in good physical condition. 

Introductory Tour:  This tour will mostly be walking over the uneven and rough floor of the cave. However, there are a couple of short sections of hands and knees crawling, a stooping duck under, and one short climb over a rock of about 5 feet.  Entering the cave involves sliding while sitting or crawling though the approximately 20" x 20” gate.

Additional Information:

The cave is not open to the public.  Open only when TCMA takes groups down, by appointment.

Click for Google Map Location, Directions, and Photos of the Cave
155 Camillia Way.  off Nacogdoches Rd., across from Cave Lane

People of many ages, sizes, and shapes have gone through this cave

Photos of spelunkers on TCMA site

More photos on Facebook

Click to view map of passages  PDF Map    JPG Map

side note:  We gain an extra hour of sleep Sunday morning.  Daylight Savings end at 2am.
Remember to set your clocks to "fall back" an hour.


* Bring plenty of water for hydration.
** Prepare to get dirty, so a change to clean, dry clothes afterwards is recommended.

T-shirts will be available for purchase from TCMA on Sunday.  $15 cash or check to TCMA  


The oldest known photo from Robber Baron
found on a hand colored postcard postmarked April 5, 1921

cave entrance 20" x 20” gate

"We have had sizable people go through the gate with no problem. Its just psychology!"

Our personal memories of "the cave"

The Cold War

" ... when the cold war was on we had bomb drills where they would have PTA moms come up to the school and park we were assigned to different cars and the Mom's were to drive us out of town and away from the bomb. My mother instructed my brother if it was a real bomb to run and pick me up ignore all the adults and run to the cave. She felt it was the best bomb shelter around. She also felt that the Moms would never make it out of town in time. She was probably right. - Winifred Reser Bishop

Rescued, and wondering what the fuss was all about ...

31 January 1967 ... when the group of girls Martha Barker [and 3 friends] went down in the cave and got trapped; I was supposed to go also but chickened out. About 7pm that night Mrs. Barker called our house asking my Mom and later me if Martha was there or did I know where she might be. I remember distinctly telling her "Oh, they were going down in the cave."  Mrs Barker very calmly thanked me for my information and I hung up the phone. The next morning the front page was them being rescued. My Mom and Mrs. Barker never made a big deal about it. I guess it was a good thing I chickened out. Ha!  I cannot remember ....  it was just getting dark outside when Mrs. Barker called.       It would have been a morning addition of the paper so maybe the Express. I am not sure if the Light was a morning or afternoon paper. It was just "the cave" to us. ...... I do think there were 4 girls. - Winifred Reser Bishop

Feb 1, 1967, The Light - front page photo of cave rescue of 4 Alamo Heights girls.  click for large image

Taylor Sealy and Company - recollections by Robin Harris

Regarding the actual sinkhole cave on cave lane… I understood there were attempts back when we were kids to fill it, but some kids(un-named herewith) kept sneaking in and digging access to the cave entrance.  You should reach out to Taylor Sealy about going thru the cave, he was an ring leader in the story below!

When we were kids, Taylor and some other kids and I all sneaked through the fence at the lot where the sink hole was located (I recall it seemed to be an entire lot but the hole was  15-20 feet deep!).  The access to the cave was a small horizontal “crack” on one side of the sinkhole that might have been ten inches high if that!  I recall one kid was just too big to fit in the crack and stayed behind.  The access was  so small in height and went for what seemed 6-10 feet into the tunnel I had to almost completely exhale in order to squeeze through to get to the large tunnel inside; pulling with my fingers and pushing with only my toes!  I recall map codes scribbled on the walls of side tunnels (circles, dead ends, etc.).  How we did not get absolutely lost in there is beyond me! 

We were in there with others hiking for several hours as I recall (seemed forever, with no end to the numerous tunnels) and finally upon exiting (another almost panic attack experience, we had the AH fire/police waiting for us outside the access as the hole was too small for them to attempt to get in and find us!  We all thought we were going to jail!  I don’t recall the outcome except a vague memory of being grounded for a small eternity.

There were conspiracies that the tunnels went all the way to the Alamo and also some saying it went to the old TMI (remember that school?)!  I also recall someone saying when they had just built the first HEB there at new braunfels/Nacogdoches triangle they hit the cave when drilling piers ( possibly doing site work and hit another sinkhole; not sure that really happened as there was no reason for them to drill piers for that type of construction but we were kids, what did we know?!).

I tell you to contact Taylor because as I recall he had been in that cave a number of times before I joined the gang... and Taylor could tell some stories! :-)

If you make contact with Taylor, ask him if he remembers us collecting tarantulas  for “pets” on a lot over in the cave lane area(?) !  A story for another time. - Robin Harris

what are your MEMORIES of the CAVE?    send to