in a Pecan Shell|
Buffalo Gap dates from 1857. FM 89, aka Buffalo Gap Highway follows
the route of the 1874 old Center Line Trail, which ran from Texarkana
to El Paso. Buffalo Gap
also had a road running toward Fort Phantom
Hill. Buffalo traveled through the region going to gaze on the high plains
and watered here for the trip, making it a perfect location for the men who hunted
them in the 1860s and 70s.
Being the only community in the county when
it was formed made it a shoe-in for county seat. The town was sizable for the
period; boasting a population of 1,200 by 1880. The Santa Fe railroad arrived
in 1895. Buffalo Gap Presbyterian College was organized in 1883 and opened its
doors two years later.
The Buffalo Gap Live Oak began publication
in the mid 1880s followed ten years later by a second paper, called The Messenger.
The Texas and Pacific Railroad made Abilene
their company headquarters and this created a rivalry to be the county seat. Perhaps
because of the strength of the T & P, Abilene
won the 1883 election. Within a year Buffalo Gap's population decreased by half.
By 1890 the once-prosperous town was down to just 300 but it rebounded somewhat
- to 400 by 1894. The population remained at or below this figure through the
The town is well-known as a Texas cultural center mainly because
of the establishment of the Ernie Wilson Museum of the Old West which opened
in the late 1950s and the restoration of the former courthouse and jail. The design
of the 1879 jail is unique in its construction, in that cannonballs were mortared
into the walls to prevent escape. It is now listed on the National Register. The
museum is now part of what is known as the Buffalo Gap Historical Village.
Marker on West & Vine Streets, Buffalo Gap|
of Buffalo GapProbably
named for the pass in Callahan Divide (mountains) crossed by thousands of buffalo
that once inhabited this area. Besides providing the native Apache and Comanche
Indians with food, buffaloes drew the first white hunters here, about 1874. First
homes in present town were dugouts of buffalo
hunters. The community began to grow in 1878 when it was named county seat and
was located on the western cattle trail. In 1883, however, the new railroad town
of Abilene became county seat
and Buffalo Gap, like so many small
Texas towns, lost prestige.
Ernie Wilson Museum historical marker.|
Photo courtesy Terry
Jeanson, May 2005
in Taylor County's historic first courthouse and jail. Although Taylor County
was organized in July 1868, the building was not completed until May 20, 1880,
because of Indian scares and lack of funds. Scene of frequent jail breaks, lynching.
Note cannon balls (marked by arrows) keying limestone blocks.
Station in Buffalo Gap Historic Village|
Photo courtesy Mary Johnson, May 2007
front of Buffalo Gap Store, the sign says it all.|
Photo courtesy Mary Johnson,