Put away that time machine.
Visitors to the Buggy Barn Museum in Blanco can feel as though they have landed back in another century by wandering among the many old-fashioned vehicles parked there. As well, an Old West-style town built on the property is used for filming movies and for other events.
About an hour from Central Austin — making a nice weekend jaunt — the museum has about 200 buggies, wagons and carriages displayed inside and outside. Big, small, black, white, elegant, weather-beaten. Even baby buggies. They date from the mid-1800s and into the early 1900s. New ones keep being added to the collection, with some requiring a bit of fixing up.
"You have to kind of use your imagination," said Jack Rogers, manager of the museum. "There’s just so much here. … I can’t pick out a favorite."
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Walking among the huge wheels, tourists can find out about the history of many of the buggies from detailed signs.
A highly ornate royal hearse from Czechoslovakia is black with large windows. Carved angels adorn the corners.
"The royal hearse only carried royalty, not the so called ‘common folk,’" a sign reads.
"It came to us in bubble wrap," Rogers said. "I did the main restoration."
Then he declares: "It’s actually haunted," pointing to a photo of the hearse with a cloudy spot of a vaguely eerie image.
The museum’s collection also shows off a jump seat buggy, a "Hotel Bus" with curtains in the windows, and a Clarence Brougham, among numerous others. And, indeed, fans of the musical "Oklahoma" will be thrilled to find a surrey with the fringe on top.
Visitors can take a tour or wander around themselves. On a Friday in September, the museum was nearly empty of visitors, in fact, with room to social distance.
"You can spend an hour to two hours depending on how much you want to look at all the buggies," said owner Dennis Moore. In addition, buggy rides can be arranged ahead of time.
Prior to COVID-19, about 50 people a week would visit the complex and linger at the museum, which opened in 2011, Rogers said. The numbers are picking back up nowadays, he said. The museum draws all ages, though plenty of signs warn visitors not to climb on the buggies.
Indeed, on a recent weekday, the buggies kept the interest of two young kids who were wandering around with a couple of adults.
Studebaker, the company well-known for cars, had its beginnings in making wagons, with many of its vehicles displayed at the museum. "The Studebaker brothers built hundreds of wagons for the North during the Civil War, and by the time the U.S. was 100 years old their company was the largest producer of horse-drawn vehicles in the world," the sign reads.
Visitors can stop and admire every vehicle, each with its own story. A white 1900 Portland cutter sleigh looks dainty, with a purple seat covering. Elsewhere, a sign for a "children’s runabout" explains, "Runabouts were small and light carriages for pleasure or (to) do quick errands."
Those getting a close-up look can find details that distinguish some buggies, such as decorative trim, neatly upholstered seats, lanterns or buggy whips. On one vehicle, a small metal hand holds a bar used for a fancy door opener.
The museum has been featured on "The Daytripper" on PBS. As well, the museum is listed on the website for the Carriage Association of America.
Also on the grounds, the Pine-Moore Town Old West Studios — with a windmill, bank, livery, store and other such buildings — is used for movie sets, re-enactments and more. It’s used often for "little, independent films," Rogers said.
"We’ve had a couple little weddings here," Rogers said.
"You can rent the whole town," Moore said.
Some of the museum’s old-fashioned vehicles have appeared in movies such as "There Will Be Blood" and the remake of "True Grit." A "Rockaway" carriage was used for the film "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter." As well, the museum’s other artifacts — such as saddles — have been used for props in various productions.
Visitors can also wander around the re-created Old West-style town.
They seem to like exploring the past, and Moore likes preserving the history. "I was amazed at all the different types of carriages," Moore said. "It’s just something I enjoy doing and seeing people out here enjoying what I have."
Recently, men outfitted in cowboy hats and boots moseyed up the streets with horses as a few onlookers watched the closed set for shooting the movie "Showdown on the Brazos."
It started when additional room was needed to store buggies, Moore said. He bought several old portable school buildings, and since then it’s evolved, he said. "In the back of my mind, I thought it would be neat to have an Old West town."
Also on-site, visitors might spot a longhorn hanging out; meanwhile, Burly R. Buffalo can greet all comers.
"He’s our mascot," Moore said.
The museum, which charges admission, is on U.S. 281/Main Street, and its sign could be easily missed, so drivers should pay close attention. For a longer stay, tourists can stop at a number of other places close by. Also in the area, breweries and distilleries can be found, and Blanco State Park is nearby, too.
After a visit, folks can hop in their late-model automobiles, perhaps with 120-horsepower engines, and head back to the modern-day world.
General information about the museum complex, such as hours of operation, as well as information about a Nov. 7 Family Fun Day event, can be found at the museum’s Facebook page, on the website www.buggybarnmuseum.com, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 210-862-1132.