Buffalo Gap Historic Village
A walk into the past

Buffalo Gap, TX

April 16th, 2005

Continuing our meandering through central Texas, we came across a small town with a strange name.  Buffalo Gap, present population 561.  It got its start as a rest stop in the 1800s,  for those traveling East or West.  For centuries it was the pathway of Buffalo trying to cross the Callahan Divide. By the 1800s,  cattle had  replaced the buffalo traveling along the famous Dodge or Western Cattle Trail. In 1879, Buffalo Gap was in its heyday as the county seat of Taylor County.  It was at that time that construction of the Taylor County Courthouse and jail was started.  It was made of natural stone found in the area.  The bottom floor served as County clerk's office, Sheriff's office and contained a courtroom and Judge's room. The second floor housed the jail, which was broken down into two rooms, a small one for control of hostile or dangerous prisoners and a larger "run around" room for the general population.  Today, the second floor houses a collection of Indian artifacts and a very nice gun collection for older firearms.  The old jail stayed in use until the county seat was moved to Abilene in 1883.  Sometime later, we never determined exactly when, the townsfolk  decided to move many of the old buildings to the area around the jail.  Soon, a historic village began to appear.  The village is now divided into three parts; the 1880s, the 1900s, and the 1925 area. We entered through the old 1910 baggage depot for the Texas and Pacific Railroad at Clyde, now used as the gift shop and entrance point for the village.  After a few words with the caretaker and a few dollars for the entrance fee, we were off to see the village.   The first place we found in the 1880s section was the John Thomas Hill House.  Built in 1881, it was the home of Abilene's first marshal.  It remained in the Hill family until 1960 and is the last standing example of the box construction of that era.  The oldest structure on the property was the Knight/Sayles Cabin.  The rustic hand-hewed cabin was built in 1875 by a former buffalo hunter J.M.C. Knight for his family of 6.  It was located some 6 miles to the west and moved here.  According to the information sheet, it is an excellent example of a "single pen cabin" typical across the American South. The 1904 area contains a Doctor's office, Post office, Barber shop among other turn of the century business.  Most of these buildings were filled with the tools and products of the era. Scenes within the structures ranged from the serious to the comic.  The main attraction in the 1925 area was the Bourn Texaco Service Station.  Built in 1926 as a family owned independent station in Winters, Tx. it joined the Texaco chain in its later years. The inside of the station was filled with all those old wonderful tools and gadgets which were used back then.  There was even an old hand crank oil dispenser complete with an old oil can.  The type with the snake spout and the top lever that released the oil when the spout was in place.  Oooooops,  I'm showing my age again.  I actually got to use one of them back in the '50s on a farm in Vermont.  Laura decided that the old jalopy had been waiting all these years for someone to give it some gas, so off she went to get the hose from the ancient pump and proceeded to fill the car with the imaginary gas of the past.  People passing by stopped and stared, trying to figure out if she was really pumping or not.  It took several hours to see everything and I'm sure during the season, when the docents are acting out the parts of those who lived in these houses and stores so long ago, that this place takes on a life of its own.  For now we were satisfied to wander and look and imagine times long gone by.

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