Western Trips

Western Trips

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Fun Things To Do In Texas



You may very well want to add visiting Waco to your list of fun things to do in Texas. You'll find some very historic and fun  stops to add to your Texas trip planner.

dr pepper museum
Dr Pepper Museum, Waco TX
Located along Interstate 35 about 100 miles south of Dallas and about the same distance north of Austin, Waco Texas, situated along the Brazos River, is the home of the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame and Museum, the Dr Pepper Museum and the beautiful 1902 McLennan County Courthouse. Waco's settlement goes back during Texas' pioneer days. At one time, the Brazos River was quite active with steamboats and played an important role during the American Civil War.

Waco Texas is located in McLennan County and was founded in 1849. This would have been just after the conclusion of the Mexican American War and after the frontier line expanded further west. The first house in Waco was built in March of 1849. It was a simple double log cabin structure built on a bluff.

The Dr Pepper Museum

The Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute is located in downtown Waco at 300 S. Fifth Street. What some might not realize is that the soft drink Dr Pepper was invented at Morrison's Old Corner Drug Store in Waco. A pharmacist who spent much of his time filing prescriptions also spent time working on the formula that one day would become Dr Pepper. The actual inventor of the Dr Pepper formula is thought to be a young pharmacist by the name of Charles Alderton. The story is that Alderton set out to replicate the smell of the drug store which had a fruit syrup aroma. Eventually Alderton created a mixture to his liking and asked the store owner, Morrison, to give it a taste. Morrison enjoyed the flavor of the drink and eventually the concoction was sold to customers at the store's soda fountain beginning in 1885.

dr pepper museum in waco texas
Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute
The drinks popularity increased to the point that other drug stores in Waco was ordering the syrup from Morrison. Meanwhile, Alderton wasn't interested in pursuing the soda any further and returned to being a full time pharmacist. Morrison and a chemist named Robert S. Lazenby formed a partnership in 1891 that would eventually be named the Dr Pepper Company. After years of growth, the Dr Pepper Company relocated to Dallas Texas in 1923.

As far as how the soda got it's name, nobody knows for sure. What is known is that Morrison himself is responsible for coming up with the name Dr Pepper. Past that, there are several different stories as to how he came by the name.

Today, the Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute is a fun place to visit while traveling though central Texas. Among the exhibits is a replica of Morrison's Old Corner Drug Store and soda fountain, a rural general store with a 1920's pick up truck and a variety of vintage Dr Pepper bottles, cans and signage.

The Free Enterprise Institute was started in 1997 as a way for young students to get acquainted with marketing. The students use the soft drink industry as a model and from there go on to create marketing programs, logos, slogans, etc. The institute offer students a real hands on approach to marketing a product from scratch.

texas rangers museum in waco texas
Texas Rangers Museum
The Texas Rangers Hall of Fame and Museum

The Texas Rangers Hall of Fame and Museum is located on the east side of Interstate 35 and just north of the Baylor University campus in Waco Texas. You'll find visiting this one of a kind museum among the fun things to do in Texas.

The Texas Rangers have a long history serving the Republic of Texas as well as the State of Texas. The Texas rangers have a storied history. From protecting settlers during the early republic days... fighting in the 1840's Mexican American War...Civil War battles on the side of the Confederacy...chasing outlaws and rustlers...the history of Texas in many ways is the history of the Texas Rangers. In 1997, the Texas state Legislature named the Texas Ranger Research Center as State-designated official repository for archives and artifacts related to the Texas Rangers.

texas rangers hall of fame and museum
TX Rangers Hall of Fame and Museum
The Texas Rangers Hall of Fame and Museum is the perfect place to learn more about their heritage. Exhibits include artifacts and photos plus an excellent research library. See historic Ranger badges... learn about the thirty Texas Rangers who gave their lives up in the line of duty... read historic case file information... see a genuine 1928 Thompson Machine Gun...view a collection of Texas Highway Patrol badges dating back to the 1930's..special Ranger handguns... A Lone Ranger Collection and much much more.

McLennan County Courthouse

Located in the western area of downtown Waco, the McLennan County Courthouse's architecture was said to be inspired by St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome Italy. Funds for the courthouse were raised by a $250,000 bond offering in 1900. This Texas Historic Landmark designed in 1902 by architect J. Riely Gordon and constructed by Tom Lovell was built in the Classical Revival style. with Beaux Arts influences. You'll find that Texas courthouses were built in a variety of styles, some quite elegant. The McLennan County Courthouse stands out as very unique. The layout of the building with it's wings is very similar to that of the Texas State Capitol. Surmounting the lantern of the dome is a statue of Themis, the Greek personification of justice.

mclennan county texas courthouse
McLennan County Courthouse, Waco TX
The area of today's McLennan County was at one time a Mexican land grant given out in 1925. Indian raids and  their ongoing threat caused permanent settlement in Waco and much of the county to be delayed until the 1840's. McLennan County was established by the Texas state legislature in January 1850. The county was named for Neil McLennan, one of the areas early settlers.

Also, see our Western Trips photo articles about historic Salado Texas, halfway between Waco and Austin and the beautiful and historic Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin.




                   

Visiting Waco

Waco Texas, being halfway between Dallas and Austin and along the busy Interstate 35 corridor, is sometimes easy to pass right through without stopping. If your Texas travel plans permit I think you'll find the attractions in Waco described in this photo article to be great additions to your Texas trip planner. There are plenty of fun things to do in Texas and visiting historic Waco is one of them.

(Photos from author's private collection)
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