San Antonio has a number of offbeat, upbeat and can’t be beat landmarks. One such example is The Buckhorn Saloon & Museum. I’ve been to The Buckhorn on different occasions to eat, drink beer, shop the gift shop and see the museums. After all, it is in my hometown and I used to work within walking distance.
Today’s visit to The Buckhorn Saloon & Museum was mainly driven by my sister-in-law’s fascination with the TV show Walker, Texas Ranger. The Buckhorn houses The Texas Ranger Museum. The TV show has some peculiar overlaps with the real Texas Ranger history. For example, There really was a Texas Ranger named Walker who really had a mentor named C.D. Parker.
The rest of the TV show is mostly inspired by a mix of actual and imagined events. Regardless of historical accuracy or even parallels, the show made for good entertainment. I watched this show when it came out in the early nineties.
I wanted my sister-in-law to get the full tour so we started with the gift shop.
The gift shop has evolved over the years and is now more focused on gift items related to the saloon, extra attractions and the museums (yes there is more than one museum). The sister-in-law bought a Texas Ranger coffee mug with her name on it. I bought a shopping bag showing the saloon from the street corner.
Out-of-towers always seem to be amazed at the enormous size of the bar itself, the mirrors behind the bar, the three story ceiling and all the crap hung up on the walls. While we didn’t get food, in the past the food service was slow and the food was below average compared to other restaurants in the area.
Texas Ranger Museum
The Texas Ranger Museum has a number of source documents (actual and photocopies) to read and what appear to be newspaper accounts of well known Ranger exploits. Around the source material there artifacts, typically guns, and pictures of the person or persons being described. This isn’t The Smithsonian. However, it all comes across as being quite sincere and genuine. In the olden days, the Texas Rangers were a force to be reckoned with. By today’s standards, some of their tactics would be considered illegal.
I found the material discussing how the Rangers handled the Langtry Prize Fight held on a sandbar in the middle of the Rio Grande River to be a nice tie in to the whole Judge Roy Bean mythology.
A likeness of Teddy Roosevelt wearing his San Antonio Rough Riders uniform is in the entryway. Having just completed the first volume of the Edmund Morris biography of Teddy Roosevelt (The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt Series Book 1), I thought how ironic that a museum devoted to the stuffed carcasses of large mammals would have Teddy Roosevelt in the entryway because he was famous and in San Antonio getting ready to invade Cuba and not because he was a great killer and stuffer of large mammals.
Since the last time I had been in The Buckhorn Museum, they have added stuffed fish. The variety of fish seemed overwhelming even though the amount of floor space devoted to fish is considerably less than floor space used for mammals.
Since the last time that I had been at the Buckhorn, they have added a “Carnival of Curiosities” and “The American Sideshow.” The carnival includes some rooms that are built at weird angle that take mess with perception. In one room, based on where we stood in the room, either myself or my sister-in-law would look huge while the other would look small. The funniest aspect of the room was trying to walk because the floor was tilted while the perspective in the room tells your brain that the floor is level.
The sideshow had crazy things like a two headed lamb and a mummified woman who looked like a dried out mermaid.
They also had some arcade games. One game I played was a skeet shooting game with shotgun sized laser pointers used to mark on the big screen where the virtual buckshot would land. I was able to blast a fair amount of skeet.
The Buckhorn staff is superb. Prices are not unreasonable for a touristy type of business. I will bring out-of-towers here again.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!