Blanco hobbyist shares his passion for buggies with the world
Dennis Moore fondly remembers his first buggy: a classic little two-wheel cart, given to him by his father and grandfather when he was just six years old. “A Shetland pony pulled it,” recalls the now 62-year-old grandfather. “I could drive it all by myself into Blanco.”
As an adult, Dennis remained interested in vehicles, owning a trucking business and collecting ’57 Chevys—but he never forgot that sweet little buggy of his childhood. When they married, he and his wife, Kelly, bought an old doctor’s buggy that Dennis would later use to carry their daughter, Amanda, to her senior prom.
Old wagons, carts, and carriages began accumulating on the Moore homestead just outside Blanco—until it became clear the collection was more of an obsession than a hobby. At that point, opening The Buggy Barn Museum on three adjoining acres just made sense. Incorporating the museum as a nonprofit expanded the couple’s ability to make the collection available to the public.
The museum currently has over 140 horse-drawn conveyances on display—the largest collection in Texas, Dennis says. The variety runs the gamut, from rustic two-wheel carts to a gilded London hearse. On a tour of the museum’s many rooms, Dennis serves as the consummate guide and walking encyclopedia of everything buggies. He points out subtle differences between a Conestoga wagon and a Danish Royalty wagon, demonstrates the low threshold and tight turning radius of a King George IV Phaeton, and raves about the suspension of a Deere Webber farm wagon. “Rides as smooth as a Cadillac,” he claims.
The museum owns buckboards and hitch wagons, stagecoaches and cotton haulers, fringe-topped surreys and elegant carriages, a hansom cab, a trolley—even a brightly painted circus/fire wagon. Most are antiques, beautifully restored by Dennis, Kelly, and Amanda; authentic replicas round out the mix.
The museum’s extensive collection has drawn considerable attention from movie, television, and music video producers. After supplying buggies and wagons for There Will be Blood and the 2010 remake of True Grit, Dennis says it clicked with him that there was a real business in providing period transportation for film and television.
To date, the museum’s buggies and wagons have been seen in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, The Redemption of Henry Myers, Deliverance Creek, and the television series Revolution, Underground, and The Son. The Moores have also provided antique vehicles for several music videos.
But why just take the buggies to the movie set, when he could also bring the movie set to the buggies? Dennis began buying old movie sets and vintage buildings to create Pine-Moore Town—a walkable Old West settlement with a saloon, church, general merchandise store, bank, and livery stable. Kelly and Amanda helped collect period furnishings, clothing, household items, tools, and horse tack that complete the illusion of stepping back into the 1880s.
Recently, a crew constructed a gallows in front of the saloon for a music video—and general purposes. “Every Old West town needs a gallows,” Dennis shrugs.
The Moores have entered the film business themselves with their Pine-Moore Old West Studios, officed in one of the town’s old-timey buildings. They’ve also begun renting out the Old West town for events—weddings, birthday parties, business gatherings, and so on. “The little church has such a nice, intimate feel for gatherings,” Kelly says. Their extended family celebrates Christmas Eve services there every year.
At this point, it looks likely that the love for buggies that began with Dennis’s father and grandfather will pass on to future generations of the Moore family, says Dennis, remembering the words his grandson Trent confided in him when the boy was only six years old: “Pa, when you go, I’m gonna carry on your legacy.”
The 4th of July parade in Blanco will begin at The Buggy Barn Museum, continue to the Square, and then return to the museum for chuck wagon hot dogs, music, and entertainment. Each November, the museum’s Hill Country Western Showcase features reenactors, chuck wagon food, and live music throughout Pine-Moore Town for a day of family fun. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/pinemooreoldweststudio.