Treasured Texas Cave Feature Known as the `Butterfly' Vandalized
at Caverns of Sonora
SONORA, Texas-(Business Wire)-December 13, 2006 - One of
America's greatest speleological treasures was vandalized last month
at the Caverns of Sonora, a family-owned attraction in west Texas.
The Caverns of Sonora is a National Natural Landmark due in part to
the phenomenal display of speleothems known as "helictites" and in
particular "bladed helictites," rare and beautiful cave formations.
Cavern officials believe on November 21, 2006, a group of
visitors intentionally and knowingly distracted a tour guide with
the intent of destroying the cavern's most famous formation, know as
the Butterfly, a bladed helictite.
A piece of the upper right wing of the formation, which measures
approximately 4 1/2 inches long and 3 1/2 inches wide was broken off
in an act of senseless destruction. "This particular formation is
what the Caverns of Sonora is known for — the Butterfly is our
trademark," said Seco Mayfield, co-owner of the caverns with sister
Gerry Ingham. "We are now seeking to find the individuals
responsible for this act and trying to recover the missing piece
that has taken many thousands of years to be created," Mayfield
Cavern officials are working with local, county and state
officials to retrieve records related to visitors on the day the
vandalism occurred. A preliminary investigation revealed a visitor
from the Houston area as a possible suspect. Sutton County officials
ask anyone who has knowledge of this crime to contact them at phone
The national caving community is also getting involved, including
the National Speleological Society that made a $1,000 pledge.
Mayfield's son Ed said that people from all over the country are
interested in helping and as a result, his family has set up a fund
for contributions. "The support shown has been huge," said Ed
The $20,000 reward will be issued for information related to the
safe return of the formation.
The Caverns of Sonora is a natural cave that is one of the most
active caves in the world. The attraction is situated on Mayfield
Caverns Ranch, approximately 8 miles west of Sonora, Texas. For more
information or to see additional photos, please visit
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