The frontier of Texas has a wild and extraordinary history, and visitors to Abilene can experience that in a unique way at interactive museum Frontier Texas.
This western heritage center is in historic downtown Abilene, known as the Key City or the Friendly Frontier and the gateway to the Texas Forts Trail, a 700-mile loop.
A walk through the frontier
Walking up to the museum, explorers of history will notice that Frontier Texas was built to look like part of a historic fort. The tall chimneys in front of the building represent the ruins of the forts of the frontier, especially nearby Fort Phantom Hill, which was destroyed in the early 1850s and only the chimneys remain today. The buffalo sculpture by T.D. Kelsey in front of the building is one-and-a-half times the size of a real buffalo — the icon for Frontier Texas.
The frontier experience begins in 1780 and takes a walk through the next 100 years. Beginning with the film at the Blood and Treasure Theatre, visitors will be taken on a historic journey by Buck Taylor, a former “Gunsmoke” and western movie star, as he narrates a 12-minute video that introduces the spirit guides located throughout the facility. These holograms represent real people of the time and speak to visitors, giving a detailed overview of what it was like while they lived on the frontier.
Upon entering the museum, visitors receive a card giving them a profile of a person from a time and place of the frontier. Find out how your person lived, what they did and, upon leaving the museum, find out their fate.
A highlight during the tour is the Frontier Experience Theater. Visitors are surrounded by movie screens. Instead of the typical theater seats, history explorers sit on stools that swivel so they can spin around, taking in all the screens and the action. During the theatre experience, action surrounds visitors as stories are told of the old west. The time in the theater provides a thought provoking, educational experience.
The variety of multimedia used at this museum allows for the Old West to come to life for all ages.
More to see
When coming into Abilene, make Frontier Texas your first stop. It acts as the visitor center for the city. The friendly staff is knowledgeable and can offer a vast list of things to do in this city of almost 122,000 residents. Get a look at the Crossing at CatClaw Creek sculpture and longhorn steer head in the lobby. Bugles are played hourly, which represent the signals that would have been given in a fort of the frontier. Cowboy tunes play in the lobby, as well as Spanish ballads and Comanche songs. The general store offers items representing the times, and Abilene products.
Check frontiertexas.com for cost and hours. During this time with COVID-19 hours have changed. The visitors center portion of the museum will remain open to assist travelers Mondays through Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A sanitized restroom is available, and maps and other information can be delivered to your vehicle by calling 325-437-2800.
For information on places to stay, eat and visit in Abilene, go to abilenevisitors.com.