Art, science, culture, and history collide at the Red River Valley Museum in Vernon, which has been called a “shockingly good museum in the middle of nowhere.” (Fun fact: Vernon is near the border of Oklahoma, and, as such, is home to a Texas State Line Monument.)
So if your next road trip has you heading through north central Texas, swing through to check out this museum. It features a trio of permanent galleries including the Berry Gallery, the Bond Big Game Gallery, and the Waggoner Gallery, rotating exhibits, and a permanent collection of art and sculptures.
Here’s what to look for in each of those galleries.
The Berry History and Science Gallery
Step back in time to the age of the dinosaur when you enter the Berry Gallery, which houses a vast collection of fossils and native artifacts uncovered during more than 25 years of exploration in the Wilbarger County and Red River Valley area.
The rich and colorful history of the county can be traced over 10,000 years ago, as evidenced by the artifacts found in this collection.
The gallery also takes you through important people and events in the county’s history, including Quanah Parker, the Great Western Cattle Drive, the Doan family (one of the county’s earliest pioneers), and the annual Doan’s Picnic, an event that dates to 1884, making it the oldest continuously celebrated pioneer festival in the state of Texas.
The William A. Bond Trophy and Game Gallery
Lions, tigers, bears, and more can all be found in the Bond Big Game Gallery.
This one-of-a-kind collection features animals that range from the tiny dik-dik, an antelope that populates the savannahs of eastern Africa, to the mighty polar bear of the frigid Arctic Circle.
The collection was donated by William “Bill” Bond, a successful rancher who was instrumental in the establishment of the Red River Valley Museum.
Newly remodeled a couple of years ago, the gallery also focuses on the importance of conservation. You’ll discover facts about all the 130-plus animals in the collection and learn how smart human impact can help endangered animals regrow their population.
The Waggoner Gallery
When rancher, oilman, banker, horse breeder, and philanthropist W.T. Waggoner was just a wee lad, he and his father set about on an adventure that would end with a ranching empire of well over 500,000 acres of Texas land, covering parts of six counties.
At 530,000 acres, the Waggoner Ranch would come to be known as the largest ranch in the United States under one fence.
In this gallery, you’ll learn about the history of the ranching industry in Wilbarger County, the famous Waggoner Ranch, and what it actually means to be a cowboy.
Discover more about the Red River Valley Museum and why people have called it an “unexpected and delightful gem” and a “marvelous surprise” here.