|Panhandle Plains Historical Museum calls
itself “The Smithsonian with a Texas accent.” It’s pretty close
to right. It is a fantastic museum and it’s located on Texas A
and M University Campus in Canyon, Texas so it definitely has a
When I visited it a short time ago, the
scope of the museum blew me away. Some museums cover one field
like agriculture or horses or one city but Panhandle Plains
Historical Museum takes on the past 14,000 years and 26,000
miles of rugged Texas panhandle. Nothing about this museum is
ordinary. It began as a bits and pieces museum in the midst of
the Great Depression when no one had any money to live on let
alone to fund a museum.
But fund it they did and it has continued
to grow over the years.
It began in
as an idea in the mind of an educator named Hattie
Anderson who came to Canyon, Texas as a history teacher at what
was then West Texas State Normal College. She saw eager young
students want to learn history and she also saw many of the
original settlers and remnants of living history still around.
So with little more than that dream, the museum grew to what it
is today; the largest history museum in Texas, housing over two
million artifacts in more than 285,000 square feet consisting of
a Research Center, Art Galleries, Pioneer Town and Special
|Prehistoric ancestors of the
bison that once roamed the Texas Panhandle Plains area
From the prehistoric creatures that roamed
the plains on to the indigenous people and the Comanche that
called this land home the museum moves on to the era of the
stagecoach and the Wild West.
|Comanche people used every part
of the buffalo they hunted
The guns that were needed to tame this
savage land have a special exhibit. From Samuel Colt’s
Peacemaker, the gun that won the west, to Remington Revolver and
many more. You can
try the fit on one of Samuel Colt’s original Peacemakers or a
Remington revolver good replicas if not actual
antiques these interactive pieces made to have the feel
of the real guns.
|Civil War guns exhibit
||Interactive guns exhibit
Panhandle Plains Historical Museum recently
opened a new Pioneer Town covering life in the Texas Panhandle
from 1890-1910. The exhibits range from the village church to a
|Travel was not easy in the old
The transportation section is a trip
through time. From stagecoach to classic cars it fascinated all.
There is a big front wheeled bike of the flapper era. One of my
favorites is the 1910 Zimmerman probably the first Zimmerman
brought into Texas. Zimmermans are one of the rarest of American
made autos. Really
horseless carriages, as they used many of the old buggy
components. Their hard rubber wheels worked well in places there
were no paved roads like the panhandle area of Texas in the
early 1900s. It was originally owned by Louis Davault Sr., one
of the area’s early residents, and donated by his son Louis Jr.
in 1933. This was the first car donated to museum.
|It hadn't gotten too much easier
by the early 1900s
Some of us will even remember some of the
later cars and the classic Burma Shave Signs. It got my brother
and I to quit squabbling and watch for the next part of the
verse on the side of the road when we were kids.
|Don't you expect James Dean or
Rock Hutson step out from behind that derrick?
Then on to the era of the oil boom. This is
like stepping into the set of the movie “Giant.” My favorite
currently is the huge derrick and old fashioned oil fields truck
but things there are changing. Stephanie Price, Museum Marketing
and Communications Manager, explains, “Since the Petroleum
Exhibit is over 30 years old, we’re giving it an oil change.”
Can’t wait to see the new exhibit, which is expected to be open
in April 2016.
The People of the Plains were as varied as
the exhibits, native dweller, European settler, cowboy, farmer,
oilman, rancher and more.
Two that represent some of the vastly differing cultures
are Charles Goodnight’s silver-mounted saddle, donated by his
foster daughter-in-law, and Quanah Parker’s headdress, lance,
and other artifacts donated by his widow.
| A Sears kit house exhibit
It’s impossible to cover this giant museum
in one article so I’m hitting the highlights and then you can go
see for yourself. You won’t regret it.
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