San Antonio, TX 78209
Great fun for kids
Children played a role in the early days of the South Texas frontier, and at the Robert J. and Helen C. Kleberg South Texas Heritage Center at the Witte Museum, there are plenty of exhibits that offer a glimpse at what life was like here for kids in the 1800s.
From a ranching teenager talking about his first cattle drive to a hands-on lesson in loading up a burro, the South Texas Heritage Center offers young people a chance to experience life in the early days of San Antonio and South Texas.
Here are some of the Center's highlights for kids and families:
A burro in the Center's main plaza exhibit area offers an interactive activity to test a skill from frontier life. Families can work together to balance a load on a donkey's back. When the load is arranged properly, the donkey's tail moves to the "green" or good range. Overload the donkey and hear him bray as his tail swings into the "red" zone.
- A wagon display offers a "peek inside" crate full of mail-order goods, including a doll and enamel ware from the late 1800s.
- A life-sized Comanche horseman greets visitors in the exhibit area on life in rural South Texas, with a saddle for visitors to try to get a feel for riding the open range. This is one of three saddles in the Center that visitors can climb aboard and compare the differences between each style.
- A colorful Comanche headdress stands on display, representing what was once the most dominant culture in South Texas.
On the Trail
- One exhibit lets visitors take a turn carrying two buckets of water with a yoke like kids in early South Texas did. Another hands-on activity shows how much water a pump could produce.
- Five "lift open" cases tell the story behind some interesting South Texas cattle brands, with distinctive markings that showed which ranch cattle belonged to. Visitors will learn about George Saunders, who registered the Rocking 10 brand because he got 10 cows when he turned 10 years old.
An interactive display lets visitors navigate the hazards facing riders on a cattle drive, a journey lasting weeks or even months to take cattle to sell in other cities and states.
- Listen to a rancher talk about striking oil on his land as explosions go off in the background. Dynamite was an early method of oil exploration before seismographic technology offered a more precise and less invasive way to search for oil deposits on South Texas ranches.
- Hands-on activities and touch screen displays give kids a chance to interact with exhibits, while videos and special presentations will further bring to life the history of South Texas in its early days of settlement.
San Antonio, TX 78209