Alamo Village is six miles north of Brackettville on the Shahan Angus Ranch in Kinney County. This replica of an old Texas town was first a set for a Western movie on the battle of the Alamo, but it remained a tourist attraction for almost fifty years. The idea for the complex was developed by James Tullis (Happy) Shahan after he was elected mayor of Brackettville in 1950. The town's economy had been ailing since the army deactivated Fort Clark in 1946. Shahan persuaded Paramount Studios to film Arrowhead at Brackettville in 1951. Two other movies followed before John Wayne filmed The Alamo on Shahan's ranch near Brackettville. From December 1957 to September 1959, when the filming of The Alamo was begun, the Batjac Company preproduction crew supervised a $12 million building program that involved up to 400 workmen at one time. Artisans from Mexico made adobe bricks as they were made three centuries ago. More than a million bricks were used to construct 200,000 square feet of permanent buildings. The Alamo replica was based on careful research that included obtaining plans sent to Spain by the Catholic priests who built the mission. There were no "false front" streets. Electrical and telephone wiring was concealed in more than ten miles of underground casing.
After production of The Alamo Shahan acquired the set, which housed a cantina and restaurant, a trading post, an Indian store, a church, a jail, a blacksmith shop, museums of western artifacts, and a gallery of celebrities who performed on the dusty streets of this little village. Alamo Village was filled with antique tools and vehicles. A herd of longhorn cattle contributed to the Old West atmosphere. Although several movies, television shows, documentaries, and commercials were made on the set since The Alamo was filmed, Alamo Village operated primarily as a tourist attraction. From Memorial Day to Labor Day live entertainers were hired to perform country music, Western melodramas, and stage shoot-outs. Horseback and stagecoach rides were available. The activity of the summer months culminated in the Labor Day Horse Races, which drew the largest annual crowds to Alamo Village. All of the buildings and facilities were open to the public year-round.
After Happy Shahan's death in 1996, his wife Virginia assumed caretaking responsibilities until her death in 2009. In August 2010 Alamo Village closed permanently.
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Mike Blakely, "Alamo Village," Texas Highways, May 1985. New York Times, October 4, 1959. San Antonio Express-News, August 31, 2010. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin (Brackettville).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 28, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
November 1, 1994