In 1881, seventeen-year-old Albert Friedrich, a bartender and bellhop at San Antonio’s Southern Hotel on Main Plaza, decided to open his own saloon across the street. Little did Friedrich know, over 130 years later his Buckhorn Saloon and Museum would be one of San Antonio’s top attractions and continue to entertain tourists from all over the world.
Shortly after opening The Buckhorn Saloon, Albert learned that many folks traveling off the ol’ dusty trail didn't have much money in their pockets. Albert had the brilliant idea to accept horns and antlers in exchange for a free beer or whiskey from his saloon. From then on, The Buckhorn collection grew to become one of the world's most unique and largest collections of horns and antlers. The impressive horn and antler collection lined every wall and ceiling, which is why it is known as the Buckhorn Hall of Horns.
In 1922, the first year of Prohibition in the United States, the Buckhorn made its first move to the corner of Houston and South Flores Streets. Many saloons, unable to serve alcoholic beverages, closed their doors, but Friedrich used his collection and his creativity to keep the Buckhorn afloat. Friedrich replaced the revenues lost from liquor sales by selling non-alcoholic beverages, lunches and by creating a curio store as unique as the collection itself. Such ingenuity made the Buckhorn more popular than ever and locals and tourists alike continued to pour into the Saloon and Hall of Horns.
Albert’s wife, Emile got into the family business as well. She began to accept jars of rattlesnake rattles in exchange for a drink. She would use these to create works of art that, to this day, can be seen on display at The Buckhorn.
In 1956, the Lone Star Brewery of San Antonio purchased The Buckhorn and built a facility to house the original bar and collection that would serve as their hospitality and sampling room. The collection continued to grow and the Buckhorn persevered as one of San Antonio’s most popular tourist attractions.
In 1996 Stroh’s Brewing Company, decided to divest itself of the historical collection. The future of the Buckhorn looked bleak until Mary Friedrich Rogers, granddaughter of Albert Friedrich, and her husband, Wallace committed to preserving this important part of San Antonio history, stepped forward to purchase the collection. While the Buckhorn continued to entertain more than 150,000 visitors a year at its former location, the new owners felt that a more central downtown location would be advantageous. The Buckhorn Saloon and Museum and its entire exotic animal collection (and even the original cherry-wood bar and marble columns) were moved to the corner of Houston and Presa Streets where it remains today. The Buckhorn’s new home has more than 40,000 square feet of exhibit space, but also a surprising 8,000 square feet of convention and private event space.
In 2006, The Buckhorn Saloon and Museum expanded again when an additional museum, The Texas Ranger Museum was added onto the attraction. The Texas Ranger Museum features hundreds of authentic Texas Ranger artifacts including automatic handguns, shotguns, badges and more. The museum also features a recreation of San Antonio at the turn of the century in Ranger Town. The town includes a replica Buckhorn Saloon, a jail cell, blacksmith and a replica of the 1934 Ford V8 Deluxe—the famous Bonnie & Clyde getaway car.
The Buckhorn Saloon and Museum has been enjoyed for more than a century, and with the continuation and expansion of the Buckhorn Museum, it will continue to delight patrons for generations to come.