There is no such thing as a quick trip through Buffalo Gap Historic Village just eight miles south of Abilene, Texas. It is, in fact, a village. Each building on the land is a museum in itself. The village complements Abilene’s Frontier Texas! by taking up the history of the West Texas frontier where the other museum leaves off. From the late 19th century up through the 1920s, visitors are guided through old shops, schools, and other long past businesses and institutions.
The village began as a museum in the old Taylor County courthouse erected when Buffalo Gap was the county seat. That solid rock building housed a courtroom that might have been used for Hollywood westerns. There is also a jail cell with iron bars that no file could work through. The main attraction of the old courthouse jail, however, is the vast collection of vintage firearms that includes everything from buffalo rifles to tiny Derringers that make visitors think about the poker games that night have been ended by one of those.
Other buildings on the site were moved into the museum grounds as it began to grow. There is the old Nazarene church still used today as a wedding venue. The old post office seems ready to accept letters and make deliveries in the antique mailboxes. There is the ubiquitous telegraph office with the Morse Code machine ready to go. In the old train station, visitors see the shameful signage that insists on segregation of blacks and whites.
In the barbershop one of the curios is the curtained off area where dusty cowboys could come in for a five-cent bath in an old galvanized tub. Down the street there is an old buffalo hunter’s cabin still intact made of weather beaten logs and charred from open fires used for cooking.
The doctor and dentist offices are filled with old medical equipment mostly donated by local medical people. The old one room school house from the 1920s seems to echo the voices of all age school children right out of scenes from old westerns where the school ma’rm wore long calico dresses and the kids wore overalls.
One of the most interesting and cluttered buildings is the old building that houses all kinds of modes of early transportation. Returning to the main building, visitors get the feel of the old general store that also houses a book store where they can purchase volumes about the old west. The authenticity of the entire museum grounds seems like a time warp to years long gone by.