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Step back in time at the Buggy Barn Museum

 
Step back in time at the Buggy Barn Museum
HARRY & LINDA KAYE PEREZ Dennis Moore’s passion has turned into a museum and transportation business. Visit the Buggy Barn Museum in Blanco, and ride in style down Memory Lane in one of his horse-drawn carriages!

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the horse--drawn carriage was king. Carriages, designed for comfort and elegance, were reserved for the rich or businesses, such as funeral homes. A public passenger vehicle was called a stagecoach; working four-wheeled vehicles were wagons; and two-wheeled vehicles were carts. But the general terminology for all of these horse-drawn vehicles is “buggy.” Buggies started to disappear as steam engines began to generate interest. Steam power quickly won the battle against animal power and buggies have all but vanished from general use. There are, of course, exceptions, such as the Amish communities or ceremonial events.

Head up the road

Believe it or not, there is a museum just for buggies a short distance outside the town of Blanco, a 65-mile drive from La Vernia. After you pass through downtown Blanco, keep your eyes left or you might miss the Buggy Barn Museum -- dedicated to the restoration and preservation of many of these treasures from the past, so all of us can experience just a small moment in time. It is said to be the largest collection of buggies in the United States. Some of these buggies, carriages, and wagons have been used in major motion pictures and television movies, including “True Grit,” “Lonesome Dove,” “Abraham Lincoln,” and “There Will Be Blood.”

Dennis Moore is the driving force behind the Buggy Barn; he calls it a “labor of love.”

“I got my first horse, a Shetland pony, when I was six years old, along with a little cart, which I drove all over my hometown of Blanco,” he said. “It became my addiction.”

Dennis is now, as we write this, on location in Louisiana with 10 horses and several buggies, filming a movie about the Underground Railroad. As soon as he finishes with that, he will begin work a remake of the “Magnificent Seven.” Dennis has even had a few small parts in some movies, along with his prized horses and buggies.

Riding in style

Inside there are more than 100 buggies, carriages, and wagons for you to look at -- up close and personal.

The Hearse came from Europe. In the 1860s, it would have been drawn by either two or four black horses, and was known as the Black Brigade. The one on display here is fairly elaborate and most likely was reserved for royalty.

The 1903 Studebaker, the largest of the Rockaway Carriages, had glass enclosures and could carry six passengers.

The Canadian-made Jump Seat Buggy could be configured in two ways -- either with two rows of seats or the front seat could be folded down and the main seat would slide forward over the jump seat, giving the driver more comfort.

Work wagons

There are also many larger wagons outside, including a stagecoach and a Conestoga wagon. The Conestoga wagon was first built by Mennonite-German settlers near the Conestoga River Valley in Lancaster, Pa., in the mid-1700s. These wagons were heavily used in the westward expansion of the United States, because of their load capability.

Take a spin

To complement the museum, Dennis and his wife, Kelly, own and operate K and D Carriages, offering carriages and costumed drivers for weddings, family reunions, proms, and quinceañeras. They also offer 20- to 30-minute unforgettable rides in one of their buggies around the local area -- $25 for a family of four, by appointment only.

Plans are already well under way to construct an entire old Western town just behind the museum, so guests can be totally immersed in the past. Yeeee-Ha!

Harry and Linda Kaye Perez are freelance writers from just down the road from Floresville. Together they share a passion for traveling and writing, and discovering the very best in all corners of the world. Email them at Harry-Linda411@att.net.

Get there!

Buggy Barn Museum: 1915 U.S. 281 N., Blanco, TX 78606; 830-833-5708, www.buggybarnmuseum.com

Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission: $8 adults; $6 seniors and military; $5 kids ages 6-18; ages 5 and under are free.

 
 
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