Heart of the High Plains: Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum

Heart of the High Plains

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – During the great depression, a passionate educator spearheaded what is known today as the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum.

“She was a powerhouse and very feisty,” Stephanie Price at Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum said. “She would stop traffic when she walked across 4th avenue and when she wanted to get something done she did it.”

And so Hattie Anderson did.

While working as an educator at West Texas state Normal College — now known as West Texas A&M University, Anderson wanted to preserve the history of the High Plains and its early settlers. So, she headed up the Panhandle-Plains Historical Society.

“Pioneers around them who had settled this area were dying out and the stories would go away with them, and that was terrible tragedy so they decided to do something about it,” Price explained. “They start collecting stories but little did they know they’d start collecting artifacts and those artifacts turned into a museum that opened in 1933.”

Today the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum has close to 3 million artifacts.

“We share the stories in unique ways, one year we had a textile exhibit and we taught kids how to make paper dresses that they wore around in a fashion show,” Price said.

According to Price, the museum has made an economic impact in the area.

“In a normal year, Covid-19 not withstanding, about 50,000 to 60,000 visitors come in our doors during the fiscal year,” Price added.

Most importantly, the museum makes a positive impact on the communities while also preserving the history of the High Plains.

“We wanted a place where people had pride in their museum that’s one thing Hattie Anderson always had said we want people to come here and see the stories in the not so distant past,” Stephanie added. “We want to share everything, history was yesterday.”

During the pandemic, Price says the museum has been able to hold virtual activities for kids and anyone interested in learning about the area’s history. For a link to those videos, admission and covid-19 guidelines, click here.

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