Just south of Abilene, Texas, is the town of Buffalo Gap. The sleepy little community of fewer than 500 residents has an exciting history, a living history museum, and a restaurant that served several U.S. presidents.
Buffalo favored this gap in the Callahan Divide. As a result, it became a preferred place for Native Americans.
U.S. soldiers, hide hunters, and cattlemen arrived in the 1870s.
Like many frontier areas, Native Americans were forced off the land, and buffalo all but became extinct from excessive hunting. Then European-descendant settlers arrived. The land offered abundant water and grazing land.
A new town called Buffalo Gap was established. The first capital of Taylor County, a county courthouse, a two-story limestone structure combining a courtroom and a jail, was completed in 1879.
Soon trains arrived in nearby Abilene, and the county seat was moved to the new city in 1883.
Taylor County History Center
Today, Taylor County History Center is the best place to understand how things were in Buffalo Gap in the 1800s and early 1900s. It was started by Ernest Walter Wilson in 1956 with the purchase of the courthouse building, where he established a small museum of Native American and Western artifacts.
The site was purchased in 1977 by Dr. R. Lee Rode and his wife, Ann. The Rodes continued to expand the site by acquiring more historic structures from the area. When Rode retired from the medical profession in 1999, the village was sold. Thanks to the assistance of the Taylor County Historical Foundation, the museum town was kept intact and acquired by the Foundation to be operated as a non-profit educational facility.
When I visited, I was able to see the inside of several buildings and their historical artifacts. The famous courthouse, a doctor’s office, train station, a church, a home complete with period furnishings, and a circa 1925 two-room schoolhouse.
Perini Ranch Steak House
Another reason to visit Buffalo Gap is the famous Perini Ranch Steak House. Featured in national magazines and on the Food Network, serving several U.S. Presidents, and offering such deliciousness as steak, catfish, shrimp, ribs, and beef tenderloin. So, make sure you add the restaurant to your itinerary and don’t forget to make a reservation.
Since 1983, Perini Ranch Steakhouse has served as home to America’s best chuck wagon-style food.
Buffalo Gap is quiet, friendly, and proud of its history. Their growth stopped when the county seat was moved to Abilene, but the folks here will never forget what was and what is in their welcoming community.Tags: Texas