History

Buffalo Gap Historic Village: Rural Texas Life, Heritage, & History Rolled in One

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For many years, the town of Buffalo Gap was the only one in Taylor County, Texas. Located along the famous Dodge (or Western) Cattle Trail, its courthouse building was constructed in 1879, and still stands to this day. Now an integral component of the Buffalo Gap Historic Village, south of Abilene, it speaks of a time of prosperity for the town and the many residents that once inhabited it. Ironically, it was the development of Abilene, along with the railroad that bypassed Buffalo Gap, which signaled change for this tiny Texas town. In 1880, with a population of 1,200, Buffalo Gap had the courthouse and jail, a drugstore, a carriage and blacksmith shop, a hotel, a saloon, and three or four grocery stores. After it lost its county-seat status to Abilene in 1883, its numbers quickly dissipated; 600 in 1884, 300 by 1890, and fluctuating between 250 and 400 from 1925 to 1980.

Buffalo Gap Historic Village: Rural Texas Life, Heritage, & History Rolled In One

Photo: Facebook/Taylor County History Center/Buffalo Gap Historic Village

Back in 1956, the old courthouse was purchased by Ernest Walter Wilson and turned into a museum showing Western and Native American artifacts. Before his death, he bought two additional Taylor County historical buildings and moved them near to the courthouse, subsequently creating the beginnings of the Buffalo Gap Historic Village. The property was eventually bought by Dr. R. Lee Rode who, with the help of his wife, expanded on the facility, purchasing additional historic structures from the area. By the time he retired from medical practice in 1999, he had determined to offer the village for sale, and it was purchased and kept intact by the Grady McWhiney Research Foundation with the assistance of the Taylor County Historical Foundation.

Buffalo Gap Historic Village: Rural Texas Life, Heritage, & History Rolled In One

Photo: Facebook/Taylor County History Center/Buffalo Gap Historic Village

Operated as a nonprofit educational facility, the Buffalo Gap Historic Village now contains a souvenir shop and Texas history store, the Taylor County Courthouse and Jail, and the Marshal Tom Hill House (home of Abilene’s first marshal). It also features the home of J.M. Knight (a former buffalo hunter), the Buffalo Gap Post Office, a bank including furnishings from the First State Bank of Buffalo Gap and a 20th-century print shop. A railway depot, doctor’s office, and the Bourn Texaco Service Station are also period facilities in place in the town. The station was originally constructed in Winters as a Magnolia Oil service station, and the Bourn family (owner/operators) later changed it to a Texaco.

Buffalo Gap Historic Village: Rural Texas Life, Heritage, & History Rolled In One
Photo: Facebook/Taylor County History Center/Buffalo Gap Historic Village

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