Western Trips

Western Trips

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Best Military Museum in Texas

For those making a western trip through Texas, consider making a stop at a very unique military museum located in the state capital of Austin. Not only is this a fun and educational venue to visit but it's also free and I believe you'll find it the best military museum in Texas.

texas military museum
L-21A Aircraft
The Texas Military Forces Museum and Camp Mabry

The Texas Military Forces Museum is located at Camp Mabry in Austin Texas. Camp Mabry serves as the headquarters for the Texas Military Forces and is an active military base.

The Texas Military Forces are the three-branch military of the state of Texas. It includes the Texas Army National Guard, the Texas Air National Guard, and the Texas State Guard. Photo identification for all adults is required to enter the base to access the museum.

Camp Mabry is named for Brigadier General Woodford H. Mabry, the Adjutant General of Texas from 1891 to 1898. During the First World War Camp Mabry was utilized by the U.S. Army as a school for automotive mechanics. During World War II the camp was headquarters for the Texas Defense Guard.

Another interesting historical fact concerning Camp Mabry is that it is the third oldest military facility in Texas. The older two include Fort Sam Houston and Fort Bliss.

japanese map case world war two
Japanese map/dispatch case, circa 1940
You may have already visited other military museums but at the Texas Military Forces Museum there's a good chance you'll see some exhibits not found anywhere else. For starters, the museum has a very extensive World War Two collection containing a hat from the German General Rommel.

A Large and Unique Collection

The museum is both inside and outside. On the grounds you'll view World War Two tanks and artillery pieces to a modern day Abrams MBT.Also outside is a collection of attack helicopters and fighter jets.The Artillery Park behind the museum building displays guns from World War One, World War Two and the Korean War.

Inside the museum are displayed several interesting vehicles. These include a M4A3, Hetzer, Jeep, Kubelwagen, M3 halftrack, a several additional U.S. trucks and light vehicles. Pictured in this article is an M 37 three quarter ton truck as well as a M151A MUTT jeep which was produced by Ford Motor Company, Kaiser Jeep and AM General Corporation. The MUTT saw a lot of service in Vietnam,

m 37 army truck
M 37  3/4 ton truck
The time frame covered by the Texas Military Forces Museum spans from the Texas war for Independence in the 1830's to the present day war against terrorism. Hard to find another such museum with this scope. Enjoy the museum's artifacts, videos, photos and dioramas. Among the dioramas are World War One and World War Two battle scenes. The museum adds new exhibits each year.

Talk about unique. The Texas Forces Military Museum has two aircraft hanging form the ceiling as part of their indoor exhibits. The L-21A Liaison plane is one such exhibit. The L-21A was a plane manufactured by Piper and was essentially a Piper Cub. One hundred and twenty-five of these planes were built. The planes nickname was "Grasshopper" and had an overall length of 22 feet 7 inches and a wingspan of 35 feet 2 inches. The L-21A's range was about 770 miles.

Visiting the Texas Military Forces Museum

The museum is located in Building 6 at Camp Mabry. For large groups (more than 15) guided tours are available. To arrange these call 512-782-5659 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

f 16 trainer
F-16 cockpit egress trainer
To drive to the museum, exit MOPAC Expressway at 35th Street. Drive west until you see the signs for the entrance to the base. This is further west than the old main entrance that was closed several years ago.

 The general area of Camp Mabry is about three miles northwest of the state capitol building and northwest of the University of Texas campus, Austin Texas. The address of Camp Mabry is 2200 West 35th Street.


Research requests are accepted at the museum during weekdays 7A to 5P. In addition the museum's research library the Texas Military Forces Museum holds the service cards for every Texan who served during World War I. This is a total of about 30,000 cards. These cards serve as a summary for World War I veterans enlistment, service and discharge. The museum's research facilities also serve as a source for tracing family trees of veterans who fought for Texas.

Personal papers are also archived at the museum. Included are memoirs by members of the 36th Division. Photo resources include over 7,000 images.

The Texas Military Forces Museum's extensive research library contains over 20,000 books.

The links below are to additional Western Trips articles you'll enjoy...

Austin Texas' Historic Driskill Hotel

Historic Fort Stockton Texas

A World Class Austin Texas Museum

m 151 mutt army jeep
On our Trips Into History Site see our article on the California State Military Museum in Sacramento.

A visit to the Texas Military Forces Museum is a fun activity for the entire family and you just mind find it to be the best military museum in Texas. The exhibits are vast and cover over 150 years of Texas military history and military history in general.

Artifacts, military equipment, historic photos and a premiere research facility are all at the Texas Military Forces Museum at Camp Mabry in Austin Texas. Admission to the museum is free. Donations to help with it's operation are greatly appreciated.

 If you're visiting central Texas and the Austin area a trip to this museum is very well worth your time.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 Western Trips)

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