A family trip to Alamo Village (seven
miles north of Brackettville on Hwy. 674) a while back provided a
great weekend of memories.
village, open year round except for several days in December, was
Texas’ first permanent outdoor movie location. It was built in the
1960s by James T. “Happy” Shahan, specifically
for John Wayne’s epic The Alamo, but numerous movies and commercials
have filmed there in the years since. It has often been referred to
as the “movie capital” of Texas.
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Alamo Village sits on the 18,000 acre
Shahan HV Ranch and is a complete town with jails, saloons, general
stores, hotels, stables, church, bank, school, undertakers and
blacksmith shop. The town features full-scale buildings with
complete interiors, not merely building facades like many “old west”
locations. Near the town site, the Alamo mission replica and several
Alamo compound buildings were recreated with great attention to
detail. According to literature available there, Happy Shahan built
the village with a complete dedication to authentically replicating
San Antonio during the early 1800s. One of the buildings houses a
John Wayne Museum which features photos and props from the Alamo
filming. There is also a cantina and store.
In 1999, special ceremonies were held
at the village in honor of the 40th anniversary of the filming of
The Alamo. Among those on the program were James Drury, star of The
Virginian, who spoke eloquently of Wayne and the other stars of the
Alamo. Also on hand were Happy Shahan’s widow, Virginia, and one of
movies filmed at Alamo Village through the years, include Bandolero,
Houston-Legend of Texas,
Thirteen Days to Glory, Lonesome Dove, Bad Girls, Good Old Boy, and
Streets of Laredo.
There have also been numerous
television shows, documentaries, travelogues and commercials filmed
there. According to Alamo Village officials, some of the companies
who filmed commercials there include Shepler’s Western Wear,
Pontiac, Shakespeare Fishing Rod, Uncle Ben’s Rice, Kodak, Texas
Army National Guard, Marlboro, Jax Beer, A. J. Foyt, Mercury, Peace
Corps, El Charrito, and Wrangler.
Through the years, the collection of
buildings has served as forts, haciendas, modern European villages,
frontier towns and Mexican villages for various filming endeavors.
Alamo Village also has a huge collection of wagons, surreys,
buckboards, stagecoaches and buggies, and well-equipped prop rooms.
In October of 2007, in a telephone
interview, Virginia Shahan, 91, said she still operates the ranch,
and the village, with help from her two daughters and one son.
“And I now have five grandchildren, and
11 great-grandchildren,” Shahan said, “and everyone just helps out
where they can. It just depends on who’s here at the time. They all
bring me such happiness. I have so much to live for. I feel like the
richest person in the world.”
The village is open daily from 9 a.m.
to 5 p.m. except for the week of Christmas. For more information,
including ticket prices, call 1-830-563-2580.