FIRST SALOON, THEN HOTEL, AND FINALLY MUSEUM
The West of the Pecos Museum has more to boast about than its fifty rooms of exhibits. Located in the Texas Pecos Trail community of Pecos, the museum occupies two classic structures from turn-of-the-century Texas. The first, a two-story red sandstone building constructed in 1896, housed a notorious saloon in its heyday. The second, the historic Orient Hotel, is a grand three-story edifice of molded, concrete blocks built in 1904. Both buildings, beautifully restored courtesy of donations and admissions, are linked by a connecting hallway, once allowing guests to partake of saloon refreshments and then return to their quarters. The saloon, scene of a double homicide within a year of opening, still harbors the deadly bullet holes.
The museum’s exhibits feature period furnishings from both the hotel and the saloon including the original bar. Railroad memorabilia dominate a portion of the ground floor while the second floor includes the “Pecos Bill” room, dedicated to the apocryphal American cowboy, as well as the accoutrements of more earth-bound cowpunchers like saddles and bedrolls. The highest floor is reserved for variety, featuring civic and cultural artifacts, industry-related memorabilia, and domestic items such as washtubs and flat irons. Special exhibits also get top billing, often emphasizing the community’s affinity for its annual rodeo, a competitive event that began in 1883.