Explore Western Art in San Antonio Texas

A visit to San Antonio Texas is always a trip into history. At one time the largest city in Spanish and Mexican ruled Tejas, today San Antonio Texas offers the tourists several historic Spanish missions, historic structures such as the Pioneer Flour Mill, the King William Historic District and the very popular San Antonio River Walk. In addition to these there are plenty more historic sites to visit.

wells fargo stage coach

Wells Fargo stage coach exhibit

The Briscoe Western Art Museum

Along the River Walk there’s another quite unique venue you may enjoy visiting. This is the Briscoe Western Art Museum is located on the River Walk and whose street address is 210 W. Market Street. The museum resides in the same historic building that once housed the Hertzberg Circus Museum. At this time many people are not acquainted with this museum since it is so new.

The Brisco Western Art Museum, which actually had been planned over a ten year period, opened it’s doors in late October 2013 to a very well attended ribbon cutting ceremony. The museum came to being by a public/ private partnership which included a $4 million dollar contribution by the Brisco Family. A partnership between the national Western Art Foundation, City of San Antonio and Bexar County created the Dolph and Janey Briscoe Western Art Museum.

The Briscoe Western Art Museum is named after former Texas governor Dolph Briscoe. Briscoe was the 41st Governor of Texas. The museum is highlighted with art from the Briscoe Family collection. The museum exhibits are displayed on three different levels of the museum.

river walk san antonio boats

River Walk boat rides along the San Antonio River.

The  museum is meant to educate the public that Texas history started with the Native Americans, and then from there to the Spanish, and from there to the Mexicans, and then to the Texicans, who then became known as Texans, then the confederacy years, and after those eras to become a big part of American history.

The Briscoe Western Art Museum Campus includes the historic Museum building, the Jack Guenther Pavilion and the adjacent McNutt Courtyard & Sculpture Garden spread across 1 1/4 acres in downtown San Antonio. The museum is a gem along the San Antonio River.

san antonio river

Another view of the San Antonio River

Briscoe Western Art Museum Exhibits

If you’re interested in cattle drives, the old west and Texas history this is a museum you do not want to miss.

The first floor lobby area of the museum has an art deco / neo-classical decor.

The second floor mezzanine level features Western painting, sculpture and photography.

The museum’s third level features a chuckwagon, Alamo Battle diorama and several galleries.

Among the many exhibits is a beautiful reproduction of a Wells Fargo stagecoach, a fine restoration of a cattle drive chuck wagon, an example of classic Aeromotor windmill, saddles, spurs, firearms, sculptures, paintings, photos and a diorama of the Alamo Battle. The art collection has an excellent blend of mixed media.

See the Trips Into History articles below…

The Historic Alamo

The Resting Place of the Alamo Defenders in San Antonio

Also our Western Trips articles on the links below…

A San Antonio Historic Hotel

The Guenther House and Pioneer Flour Mill

From Trips Into History see…

Visit Luling Texas / Railroads, Oil and Watermelons

Additional Attractions Along the San Antonio River Walk

While you’re visiting the San Antonio Riverwalk and the Briscoe Western Art Museum you’ll want to see the La Villita Historic Arts Village which is also one of San Antonio’s oldest neighborhoods. La Villita was originally settled nearly 300 years ago as one of the city’s first neighborhoods. This arts village of one square block has been in existence since 1939 and features all types of art…sculptures, oil paintings, pottery and much more. You’ll also want to check out events planned at the arts village before your trip to San Antonio. La Villita Historic Arts Village is adjacent to the hotels and the Riverwalk. La Villita hosts some of San Antonio’s best parties with festivals, concerts and celebrations scheduled year-round. See their website at www.lavillita.com

san antonio texas museums

Briscoe Western Art Museum

If you take a boat ride on the San Antonio River along the River Walk, which is highly recommended, you’ll learn quite a lot about San Antonio and the construction of the Riverwalk itself. The cruise is 35 minutes long and passes by the RiverCenter Mall which is the only mall in the U.S. that actually has a river running through it.

Along the San Antonio River and the River Walk is the Arneson River Theater.  This outdoor theater directly on the River Walk becomes a festival of lights during the Christmas and New Year holiday period. You’ll also hear local sounds of folklorico and flamenco music during the summer months and especially during celebrations such as the Fiesta Noche del Rio.

(Article copyright 2014 Trips Into History)

Studebaker Cars and the Studebaker National Museum

The Studebakers were wagon makers and blacksmiths when they arrived in America from Holland. They trained their sons in that same tradition.

Founded in 1852 as the H & C Studebaker blacksmith shop in South Bend, Indiana, the organization was incorporated in 1868 under the name of the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company. Their business was as a producer of wagons for farmers, miners, and the military.

studebaker wagon

Authentic Studebaker wagon

The Studebaker brothers, Henry and Clement, began in business as horse drawn wagon makers and achieved a great deal of success. The Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company built horse drawn wagons at a time that the American population was on the move.

The 1850′s were a time of great western expansion and there were many of the Studebaker brother’s products that made the trek over the popular Overland Trail. In a large way the California Gold Rush and it’s demand for transportation launched to Studebaker brothers into the wagon building business. Studebaker wagons became known as some of the most reliable of their kind and were the chosen way to cross the continent from East to West.

Studebaker was a major contractor to the Union Army during the American Civil War. It’s also believed that the very first chuckwagon was designed and built by legendary Texas rancher Charles Goodnight. Goodnight reportedly used a surplus Studebaker wagon from the Civil War for his first chuckwagon.

1951 studebaker commander

1951 Studebaker Commander

After years of constant urging by a Studebaker family member who thought it was time to enter the horseless carriage business, Studebaker the carriage maker entered the new automobile business in 1902. An interesting side note is that Studebaker had the distinction of manufacturing electric powered cars during their first two years in business. At the time the Studebaker brothers felt that electric was the way to go. The company switched to gasoline power just a few years later in 1904. On February 14, 1911, the company was organized into the Studebaker Corporation.

An interesting note is that the Studebaker’s were building all types of wagons from simple farm wagons to elaborately built closed carriages.Some of these wagon models were named the Phaeton, the Victoria and the Brougham and these same style names were used by various automobile makers during the 1900’s.

studebaker commander

Another view of the Commander

The 1920’s Meant Major Changes for Studebaker

Studebaker ended their horse drawn carriage business in 1920. The 1920’s also saw the company moving it’s production from Detroit Michigan to South Bend Indiana. The 1920’s were a very good decade for the Studebaker Manufacturing Company. Studebakers were popular throughout the ’20s and the company usually ranked among the top 10 auto makers. The 1930’s were a different matter. As was the case with several other automakers, the Great Depression took it’s toll. Studebaker had to go into receivership in 1933. Company Vice Presidents Paul Hoffman and Harold Vance were appointed receivers and led Studebaker back to solvency just two years later in 1935.

Some of the icon Studebaker models included the 1939 Champion, the 1947 Starlight Coupe, the 1950 “Bullet Nose”, the 1953 Starliner Hardtop and the 1963 Avanti. Another important fact was that Studebaker was the first automaker to introduce new post war designs in 1947.

studebaker wagon 1800's

Iron suspension of the Studebaker Wagon

The Studebaker National Museum

Visiting the Studebaker National Museum offers you a very unique historical experience. Learn all about the company that began building wagons that were used by pioneers and successfully transitioned into an automaker whose brand continued into the 1960’s. If you are into antique cars this museum is definitely a must see. The museum grounds are beautiful and you’ll be able to explore three floors of history and cars

The Studebaker National Museum is home to four of the presidential carriages: The Grant, Harrison, Lincoln and McKinley carriages can be seen at the museum.

For children the museum features an interactive exhibit named the Studebaker Super Service Center. This exhibit allows children to pretend to work on automobiles and is  designed for children ages 3 to 10.

The Studebaker National Museum is located at 201 Chapin St, South Bend, IN.

See the Trips Into History articles on the links below…

Studebaker Frontier Wagons

Luxury Cars of the Great Depression

Also see articles on our AutoMuseumOnline site on the links below…

The 1951 Studebaker Commander

The 1955 Studebaker President Speedster

A very good book regarding the Studebaker brothers and their wagon and automobile business is Studebaker: The Complete History by author Patrick R. Foster.

1955 studebaker president

Stylish 1955 Studebaker President

Studebaker’s Last Days

Studebaker production in the U.S. ended in 1963. The company had been in financial trouble ever since the 1950’s and had merged with Packard in 1954.

The last cars produced by Studebaker were the 1964 model year GranTurismo.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 Trips Into History)


Pacific Coast Lighthouses / Point Pinos

Historic Point Pinos Lighthouse

If your travels take you to the beautiful Monterey Peninsula in California, you’ll want to add a visit to the Point Pinos Lighthouse to your west coast trip planner.

This area of California is uniquely scenic and draws tourists from the world over. Monterey California and the Monterey Peninsula offers some of the best golf found anywhere in the world, a tremendous selection of restaurants, whale watching and historic sites and a Spanish mission. To be sure there’s plenty to see and do there and a visit to Point Pinos is one of those attractions.

point pinos lighthouse

Point Pinos Lighthouse

Point Pinos has the distinction of being the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the West Coast. The lighthouse was built with a round concrete tower rising from the roof of a 1-1/2 story stone Cape Cod type house.The beacon began operating on February 1, 1855.

The California coast is rocky and the Point Pinos Lighthouse beacon has flashed for well over 150 years giving warning to shipping off those rocky shores. In  2006, ownership of the lighthouse was transferred from the Coast Guard to the City of Pacific Grove.The lighthouse has been beautifully restored and is now maintained by the Pacific Grove Historical Society.

The Pacific Coast Lighthouses

The United States took possession of California from Mexico as the result of the Mexican-American War during the 1840’s. It’s interesting to note just how relatively soon after the takeover that Point Pinos was established. Alcatraz actually was the first California lighthouse established in 1852. The lighthouse, also built in a Cape Cod style, was damaged during the 1906 earthquake, rebuilt as a tower, and today is an automated beacon.

fresnel third degree lens

The third order Fresnel lens on the Point Pinos Light.

Shipping of course increased dramatically due to the California Golf Rush. The only way to reach the gold fields from the east coast was either an overland journey that could prove quite lethal for many reasons or by ship either around Cape Horn or to Panama and through the dangerous jungles to a port on the Pacific side. From there it was a journey up the western coastline.

This influx of shipping and the general growth of California made it clear that lighthouses were needed.

A Series of California Coast Lighthouses

The California coast lighthouses were built at the most dangerous points along the coast. Lighthouses actually evolved from single lights in homeowners’ windows to fully-automated, independent structures on prominent peninsulas and sea cliffs.

Below is a list of just a few of the magnificent California lighthouses you can still visit today.

In addition to Alcatraz and Point Pinos, another California lighthouse of note is Battery Point near Crescent City and the Oregon border. Built in 1856, Battery Point was important to protect lumber shipping destined to San Francisco from the northwest forests.

point pinos pacific grove california

An old buoy exhibit at the Point Pinos Lighthouse

Another California lighthouse on the coast north of San Francisco is Point Arena. Point Arena Light was built in 1870 and is located on a narrow strip of land that juts out into a portion of the Pacific Ocean filled with dangerous reefs. Point Arena light was automated in 1977. Today you can visit Point Arena Lighthouse which is privately owned and tour the light and enjoy their historical museum. The address is 45500 Lighthouse Road
Point Arena, CA.

The Point Reyes Lighthouse is located on the Point Reyes headlands which jut out into the Pacific Ocean about ten miles. This site is considered to be one of the windiest points on the California coast. Point Reyes is just north of San Francisco which meant that many vessels had to navigate around this headland. Reportedly there have been some eighty shipwrecks off the point which had been very dangerous to mariners for over 100 years. Before the Point Reyes lighthouse could even be built, a suitable flat site was blasted out of the rock about 300 feet below the cliff. The Point Reyes Lighthouse is located within the Point Reyes National Seashore.

According to the National Park Service, Point Reyes is the windiest place on the Pacific Coast and the second foggiest place on the North American continent.

See More Historic California Travel articles from our Western Trips site on the links below…

Point Reyes National Seashore

Mission San Juan Bautista on the Old Spanish Trail

A Visit to Carmel-By-The-Sea

A Visit to the Gatekeeper’s Museum / Tahoe City CA

point lobos shoreline

A look at the rocky Pacific coast shoreline from Point Lobos

The Los Pinos Fresnel Lens and Light Sources

The lens at the Point Pinos Lighthouse was manufactured in France in 1853 and is a third order Fresnel. A larger, second order light had been planned, but delay in shipment caused the present light, originally destined for the Fort Point Lighthouse in San Francisco, to be installed instead. The first light source was a whale oil lantern in which the oil was forced up from a tank by a gravity-operated piston. Lard oil soon replaced whale oil and then the light source became kerosene in 1880. Electric lights appeared there in 1915.

The Point Pinos light is 89 feet above sea level. The present 1000 watt bulb is amplified by the lenses and prisms to produce a 50,000 candlepower beam. Reportedly the light can be seen up to 15 miles under good conditions. In addition, a Class D radio beacon operated continuously which had a range of up to 20 miles. The light also had a fog horn which could be turned on manually. In 1993, when GPS navigation came about, the radio beacon and the foghorn were deactivated.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 Trips Into History)