In June, 1935, Center Chamber of Commerce was
working for the designation of a State Park for Shelby County. The chamber
wrote to the State Park Board for information regarding the improvement of
the Neuville Cave as a park. It was the state policy that 500 acres be
donated on the proper site, a CCC camp would be established, and the area
worked over for a park would include the building of roads, shelter houses,
tables, benches and dams where practical. Neuville Cave was bypassed as a
state park and nothing more became of the proposal.
In the 1930's and 1940's the cave became a place for teens and young grown-ups to visit. Rumor is that Sam Houston hid in the cave from the Indians, and that Davy Crocket spent the night there. It is also said that the Declaration of Independence was drafted in this cave, and that the first sermon preached in Texas was preached directly in front of it. General Taylor, on is way to Mexico, spent one night here, Immediately over the cave is a large tree, it is said, under which General Robert E. Lee spent one night on his return from the Mexican War. A rusty and blood stained knife was found in the cave and with this knife in this cave Sam Houston cut Santa Anna's throat. This was after Santa Anna had escaped from the field and was captured in this cave. I leave it to you --- "believe it or not."
The Neuville (Gunnels) Cave is located on
private property south of what once was the old Gunnels farm house. The
cave itself is a unique attraction for East Texas. It is approximately 270
feet long, and has two parts. One part tunnels through a hill and opens
into an immense sink-hole covering an area of at least two acres, and with
an average depth of 40 feet. In the sink-hole several springs have their
origin, and the small stream goes through the main tunnel and out the west
In the cave is one long room, 20x40, and the ceiling is approximately 290 feet high. The roof of the whole cave is arched, and the hard sand and clay deposits offer a solid wall that appears to be safe from cave-ins.
The western end of the cave opens into a deep canyon that contains some of the tallest trees of all descriptions to be found in East Texas. Other springs in the ravine add to the volume of the water in the creek which would make a beautiful lake possible at the lower end of the area; perhaps a mile southwest of the cave.