Texas Ranger Museum and Hall of Fame
I-35 and University Parks Drive, Waco, TX, USA
www.texasranger.org - 254-750-8631
Texas Ranger Museum and Hall of Fame Waco Reviews
Apr 27, 2007
My mother and sister came down to see us, so I escorted them to the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum to play tourist guide. I only live about fifteen miles away and never had the least compunction to visit, but I learned today this was a mistake. The legacy of the Texas Rangers, the oldest state enforcement agency in North America, is quite fascinating and this museum provides a comprehensive understanding.
The Texas Rangers were originated by Stephen Austin in the 1820’s to protect settlers in Texas (ruled by Mexico at the time) from Indian raids. The roles and services provided by this group evolved significantly over time and the museum documents this history with well presented detail. Please be forewarned, there are guns galore on display, but I was intrigued how the rangers were responsible for popularizing the Colt revolver and one of their members worked directly with Samuel Colt to overhaul the design and render a much more effective version. Unbelievably, these ancient revolvers weighed almost five pounds and one exhibit lets you pick up an unloaded replica to gauge how difficult it would be to aim something so heavy!
Around 1880 the rangers started producing their iconic “lone star badges”, which were rendered exclusively from Mexican silver dollars – a tradition which survives today. While I am a bit disturbed that a US state agency blesses corrupting another county’s coins, it is a remarkable legacy.
The museum traces the change from horses and Colt revolvers to modern times and reliance on DNA and GPS to enforce the law. Really is a fantastic voyage and the heritage is reinforced by tales of bravery from this troop to protect the Texas citizenship for over 175 years. The biggest surprise for me was the display around Bonnie & Clyde, who had been robbing banks and remained at large for several years before a Texas agency hired a retired Texas Ranger to hunt them down.
The ranger, Frank Hamer, assembled a team of several other rangers and just 102 days after taking on the case, Bonnie & Clyde were gunned down in Louisiana. This is just one of so many inspiring stories you can learn here. Today there are still over a hundred Texas Rangers and what I find amazing is that their impact remains considerable. The keys lie in their statewide jurisdiction and teaming up to crack a case.
Consider how mystified your local police department would be if confronted with a rare murder, abduction or other unusual crime. In Texas, there is a team of rangers with deep experience in bizarre cases who congregate upon the scene of the crime and work with the local authorities to bring justice. I was surprised by the inspired feeling I gained and was only put off by all the toy guns in the gift shop at the end (seemed to taint the justice theme with violence). Regardless, the museum presents this unique tradition with panache.
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