Living History Lessons at the Museum of South Texas History

Even though south Texas has subtropical weather, that doesn’t always mean sunny, blue skies. Such was the case last week when the event I had scheduled for Saturday’s post was essentially rained out.* Fortunately, I had planned to attend the Pioneer and Ranching Crafts Day at Museum of South Texas History in Edinburg on Saturday. In contrast to last week’s weather, it was a near perfect day. I burned the midnight oil to get that story ready to publish on Sunday morning.

large cracked bell with text overlay: Pioneer & Ranching Crafts Day Museum of South Texas History

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Museum of South Texas History

The Museum of South Texas History totally surprised and impressed me. It is quite large and gorgeous and I think it is my favorite museum so far in Texas.

exterior of Museum of South Texas History

The museum opened as the Hidalgo County Historical Museum in 1967 in the old Hidalgo County Jail. The jail is still part of the museum but is currently closed for renovation. Speaking of renovations, in 2003, the museum completed a $5.5 million renovation including a 22,500 square foot wing. The wing houses the gift shop, grand lobby and permanent exhibits. When the renovation was completed, the name was changed to Museum of South Texas History to reflect its mission to represent the history of the entire region.

The Exhibits

I think what I liked most about this museum is how everything flowed. It was so easy to take a walk through south Texas history from prehistoric times to present day. The exhibits are large and the descriptions are clearly and succinctly written, both in English and Spanish.

early inhabitants exhibit at Museum of South Texas History

One of the best things about visiting these local museums is what you learn that you never read in history books. I had lots of “Wow, that’s interesting” moments but the thing that stood out to me most, as a horsewoman, is how horses got to the Americas. We all learned that the Spaniards brought them but I never really considered how they were transported. Horses can be delicate and seas can be wicked. How did horses stand in their stalls when seas were rough? Heavy slings let them sway above the decks!

how horses were transported to the Americas exhibit of how horses were transported in a sling onboard a ship

I loved the sound effects that some of the exhibits had. For instance, in this kitchen scene you could hear the sound of sizzling bacon.

pioneer kitchen exhibit at Museum of South Texas History

Museums with great exhibits like those at Museum of South Texas History really help you visualize what life was like in the past. It makes you appreciate how times have changed and just what you have. Although our world is not perfect, I am grateful I was born in this day and age.

Pioneer and Ranching Crafts Day Celebrates 30 Years!

This was a great pioneer reenactment day! I guess they’ve had some practice since this is their 30th year holding this event. There were lots of people in costume and rumor had it that Buffalo Bill was roaming around looking for photo ops.

man in costume with rifle and large straw hat

"Buffalo Bill" during Pioneer and Ranching Crafts Day at Museum of South Texas History

Pioneer and ranching activity demonstrations were going on all over the facility. You could learn about spinning wool, basket weaving, wood carving, wood burning, making soap and candles, leather work and so much more. Several vendors expressed a sadness that many of these art forms are being lost. They are always encouraging folks, especially young folks, to get involved.

woman at spinning wheel

Spinning wool

Cro-hook demonstration

Cro-hook demonstration

basket weaving demonstration beeswax candles wood carvers demonstration during Pioneer and Ranching Craft Days at Museum of South Texas History

Have you ever made butter? I know I made it both in elementary school and as a Girl Scout. I also made it at home in my cooking heydays — many years ago. It’s a fun thing for kids to do so this was always one of the activities I shared with the kids in my horse camps. If you’ve never done it, you should give it a try. It is a very satisfying feeling. If you have kids or grand kids and they’ve never made butter, let them make some in a mason jar.

woman churning butter

It takes about one to one and a half hours to churn this much cream

finished butter

The butter is light and creamy

Activities for Kids

There were plenty of things to keep the kids entertained. Balloon sculptures and face painting were very popular. They could see what it was like to churn butter. Rocks were waiting for kids to turn the into artwork. They could learn to make a dream catcher. A couple of ponies gave some kids their first exposure to riding. The whole family could don period clothes for an old time photograph.

balloons for the kids
face painting

pony ride


There was almost always something happening on the performance stage. Music and dance entertained an enthusiastic crowd. Every now and then, the music inspired a couple in the audience to get up and dance.

female singertap dancerscrowd watching performer

Food and Drink

From snacks and drinks to tacos and BBQ sandwiches, there were plenty of food choices to satisfy everyone. Prices were very reasonable at $6 for pulled pork or $7 for brisket BBQ sandwiches and $7 for three tacos. I lucked out and got the last brisket sandwich!

barbecue truckbrisket sandwichtaco filling

Final Thoughts on the Museum of South Texas History

I’m so glad this special event got me out to Edinburg to visit the Museum of South Texas History. Otherwise, this museum may not have been on my list for a while, but it definitely should be on yours! Don’t wait for a special event to get you there.

The Details

Address: 200 N. Closner Blvd, Edinburg, Texas 78541
Phone: 956-383-6911
Entrance fees: Adults $9; seniors, students and military $6; children 4+ $5
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10am to 5pm, Sunday 1pm to 5pm, closed Monday

The museum is ADA accessible.


singer with text overlay: Museum of South Texas History, Edinburg, Texas, Celebrating 30 years of Pioneer & Ranching Crafts Day
dishware set decorated with longhorn cattle with text overlay: What role did the longhorn play in South Texas History? Museum of South Texas History Edinburg, Texas
exterior of museum and interior display with text overlay: Take a walk through time! Museum of South Texas History

Until next time…

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