Abandoned Western Movie Set for "The Alamo" at Bracketville, Texas

Published on December 19, 2022

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When you’re traveling in Texas, it’s easy to get lost in time. Sometimes, when you’re driving down a rural highway in Texas, there’s just a line now and then that you cross somewhere without even realizing it. And then before you know it, you look around, and you’re not in the State of Texas anymore. You’ve somehow traveled back in time, and you now find yourself in the Republic of Texas, standing at the wooden doors of the fabled Alamo itself. At least, that’s the feeling that you get when you look around this place. Welcome to the Abandoned Alamo Movie Set (1960), at Bracketville, Texas.

The Alamo Movie Set, or “Alamo Village”, as it’s also known, is a now abandoned movie set located just north of Brackettville, Texas. It was the very first movie location ever built in Texas. The Alamo Movie Set was originally constructed for the movie titled, The Alamo, filmed in 1960, and directed by John Wayne. The movie starred John Wayne himself, Richard Widmark, Laurence Harvey and Frankie Avalon.

The set was built by James T. “Happy” Shahan of Brackettville, Texas, who in 1995 was named the “Father of the Texas movie industry” by Governor George W. Bush. Shahan began building the set on his ranch in September of 1957 for John Wayne and his upcoming movie, which was to be titled, “The Alamo”. Construction of the set took almost two years, but in August, 1959, filming for the movie finally began.
Originally the set was to be facades of the front and sides of the buildings. However, John Wayne ran out of money and called a halt to construction. Shahan agreed to continue working while Wayne raised more money, if Wayne would agree to building full sets with four walls, floors and roofs. Wayne signed on to the deal.
The set includes a full-scale re-creation of the Alamo compound as it would have appeared in 1836, and additionally includes a representation of the village of San Antonio de Béxar of the same time period. The building of the set required over 1.5 million adobe bricks, which were manufactured on site, 14 miles of gravel road, and a 4,000-foot runway.

Shahan preserved the set after the end of the 1960 production and, over the years, more than a dozen films about the Alamo have been shot there. In addition, over 100 other western movies as well as documentaries, music videos and commercials have been shot using various parts of the set.
After the filming of the 1960 version of The Alamo, the village was also used heavily as a tourist attraction. For several decades, it served as a significant local employer and element of the economy in Brackettville. In addition to the replica of The Alamo, the now abandoned village includes a cantina and restaurant, a trading post, a church, a jail, and a blacksmith shop.
In 2004, the set was put up for sale by its owner, Virginia Shahan, that is, Happy Shahan’s widow, for $3 million. However, Virginia Shahan died on June 23, 2009 at the age of 93. At that point, Alamo Village was closed to the public while her estate evaluated the feasibility of the Village’s continued operation in the midst of the late-2000s recession. Alamo Village did temporarily re-open several times after the death of owner Virginia Shahan, but the revival of this place as a tourist attraction was to be short-lived on each occasion. At this point, the movie set is completely abandoned, and sadly, may possibly never open again as a tourist attraction.

But its legacy lives on in the hearts of all Texans, and I hope that, while exploring this place with me, you were able to, if only for a moment, transport your mind, soul, and heart back in time to the era of Davy Crockett, the Alamo, and the Republic of Texas. I know I was. Thank you for watching. Hope you enjoyed.

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What Was The Alamo Used For Originally

What Was The Alamo Used For Originally, Abandoned Western Movie Set for "The Alamo" at Bracketville, Texas.

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