Fangs don't feign Nearby cave tells the 'Real Story' of foothills history
Discovered a century ago this coming December, Hawver Cave's mysteries are being unlocked again.
Gene Lorance, a state Department of Parks environmental resource specialist, has been overseeing a project for the past 1½ years that is shedding renewed light on a cave that yielded a treasure trove of prehistoric animal bones from 1906 to 1910 but has been out of the public eye since then.
In recent weeks, the Parks Department has moved to install gates on the entranceways to limestone-mining tunnels leading to the storied cave. Lorance said that those gates could eventually swing open to the public for tours, with an electric train taking passengers into its darkened reaches.
Lorance's research has taken him into the cave itself as well as a nearby one that paleontologists are hoping to excavate. His work has also put him in contact with relatives of Auburn dentist-paleontologist J.C. Hawver, who found the cave in December 1906. That gave him access to Hawver's personal journals from that time.
Lorance has traveled to the University of California, Berkeley, where he has photographed much of the school's collection of more than 400 bones taken from the cave. The list of animals includes extinct sabertoothed tigers, ancient cousins of the armadillo and ground sloths as well as bisons, mountain lions and other species. Four human skeletons were also taken from the caves and determined to be 10,000 years old.