WACO, Texas (FOX 44) – For this week on Destination Central Texas, we are taking a look at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum to learn more about the history of our state law enforcement.
This place has so many pieces of history. Stephen F. Austin first formed the Texas Rangers in 1823, when Texas was still part of Mexico.
“The Rangers are arguably the best known historical thing in Texas after the Alamo, says Museum Director Byron Johnson. “And so, over a series of years the State of Texas, the legislature and the City of Waco came together and started the museum.”
The museum opened in 1968, and has had over five million people visit since opening.
The museum, to this day, does not disappoint. It has thousands of historical artifacts all relating to the Texas Rangers – from the first Ranger badge to pop culture references and television shows like Walker: Texas Ranger.
“We have a lot of props that Chuck Norris gave us when they closed Walker: Texas Ranger down,” said Johnson. “And so, you can learn not only about the real Rangers, but also the TV Rangers.”
For crime junkies, the museum has multiple exhibits relating to criminals Rangers have apprehended throughout the years – two of the most famous being Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.
“Former Texas Rangers were the ones that were involved in ending their crime spree,” said Johnson. “And we have artifacts and materials from Bonnie and Clyde, and from the posse that ended their criminal career on display.”
Johnson says they are continually receiving artifacts and donations, and they are hoping to expand the museum – because there just isn’t enough space for all the history.
“The Rangers are still very much active, and we still get artifacts that they have, are using, and have just taken out of service in the collections,” Johnson said. “And we also have people that are donating some artifacts that are 100 or 150 years old to the collections.”
Johnson’s hope is people leave the museum knowing not only the history of the Texas Rangers – but seeing their growth and how they have changed since 1823.
“Every time Texas has changed, the Rangers have changed to serve the needs of the state,” Johnson said. “The other thing is Texas, being as large as it is, there will always be a need for an agency that can go anywhere in the state. As long as there is a Texas, there will be Texas Rangers.”
So if you live in the area, and you haven’t been to the museum yet, definitely come check it out – because there’s always going to be something new to see.