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Permanent Gallery

Robert J. & Helen C. Kleberg South Texas Heritage Center

Dive deep into the rich history of Texas. Travel from San Antonio’s bustling main plaza to the wild frontier; meet freighters, store clerks, oil workers, chile queens and cattle kings. Explore Texas through an artist’s eye in the changing art gallery or meet the people who built the Texas cattle industry.

Welcome to San Antonio’s main plaza in 1849. Explore hundreds of artifacts that illustrate what life was like in the commercial hub of Texas and the largest city in the region for more than 100 years. Stores, saloons, fandango houses, theaters and hotels lined the plaza. Vendors set up tables selling fresh produce, butter, eggs, cotton, wool, hay, and firewood. People speaking Spanish, English, German, Polish, Czech, French and Chinese in the Plaza reflected the city’s growing immigrant population. Listen to sounds of the bustling plaza while hearing accounts firsthand from store owners, hotel workers, Mayor Juan Seguin, flour millers and chile queens.

Travel outside the city and hear from plains tribes, women on the cattle drive, ranchers, traveling newspapermen and oil workers. Explore the open range, where land was unfenced and ownership not clearly defined. Wildlife and ranch animals roamed free until the 1880s, when large, fenced pastures began to take shape. Find out what cowboys ate on large ranches and trail drives, what early law enforcement was like, how access to water changed South Texas and which inventions located oil and gas deposits deep underground.

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