The McCulloch House was built in 1872 for ChampeCarter McCulloch who combined two structures into this Greek Revival style home. McCulloch was once mayor of Waco. Today it is open to the public for tours. The home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Hours are 2 PM to 5 PM Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $3 for adults; $2.50 for seniors (50 and up); $2 students; free for military and kids under 6.
The Fort House was built in 1868 for William A. Fort and his wife Dionitia Wilson Fort using the Greek Revival style of architecture. Today it is open to the public for tours. The home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Hours are 2 PM to 5 PM Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $3 for adults; $2.50 for seniors (50 and up); $2 students; free for military and kids under 6.
Waco has a nice veteran'spark along the Brazos River with memorials to the nation's veterans, especially those who gave their lives in service to their country. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was especially nice. I feel it is important to honor our nation's veterans and the contributions they made to our freedoms and way of life.
If you lean more towards art than all that science and learning, check out the Martin Museum of Art. This museum holds a variety of national and international paintings, prints, and sculptures. Hours are 10 AM to 5 PM Tuesday through Friday and 12 PM to 5 PM on Saturday. Closed on Monday, Sunday and when classes are not in session. Admission is FREE.
The Mayborn Museum Complex includes a variety of great natural history exhibits like traditional dioramas (I loved these as a kid); walk-in dioramas; the Mammoth Experience where you walk on a glass floor over casts of the skeletal remains of some of the 24 mammoths found near Waco; and a Texas limestone cave and forest. Displays teach about paleontology, archeology, natural history, geology and other disciplines. Hands-on attractions like reporting the news and weather and others will delight kids of all ages. Also check out the Jeanes Discovery Center, SBC Theater and Traveling Exhibit Gallery, Baylor University exhibit and the museum store. Hours are 10 AM to 5 PM Monday through Saturday (8 PM on Thursday) and 1 PM to 5 PM on Sunday. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors (65 and up), and $4 for kids under 13.
Cameron Park is a beautiful, relaxing 416-acre park located along the Bosque and Brazos Rivers. There are picnic pavilions, playgrounds, a spray park and lots of green spaces for the kids to run off some energy. For the more sports minded there is a dock to launch your kayak or canoe into the river, a disc golf course, and 20 miles of multi-use trails. The Cameron Park Zoo, a 52-acre natural habitat zoo, is also located here. The park is open 6 AM to Midnight.
This museum has a number of exhibits about professional Texas athletes like: Lee Trevino, Don January, Babe Didrikson, George Foreman and Nolan Ryan. The museum was expanded to include a Southwest Conference exhibit along with Texas Baseball Hall of Fame, Tennis Hall of Fame, and Halls of Fame for high school football, baseball and basketball. Hours are 9 AM to 5 PM Monday through Saturday and 12 PM to 5 PM on Sunday. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 seniors (60 up), $3 students, kids 6 and under are free.
Waco is a large town of about 125,000 (up 10% since 2000) located at the intersection of Interstate 35, US Highways 77 and 84, and Texas Highway 6. The Waco area has long supported human habitation. The Waco tribe (for whom the town is named) were attracted to the areas large cold water springs, and remnants of De Soto's expedition came through the area in 1542. The Texas Rangers established a fort here in 1837 and settlers came 12 in 1849. Waco experienced a boom when the Chisholm Trail came through and became so wild it was called "six-shooter junction". Waco is the county seat of McLennan County which was named for Neill McLennan an early settler in the area. The McLennan County Courthouse was built on the site of Neill McLennan's home, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There is a Woodmen Memorial on the courthouse grounds.
A good first stop in town is the Waco Tourist Information Center where you can get maps of the town and information about the various attractions in this interesting town. The staff here was friendly and knowledgeable. Hours are 8 AM to 5 PM Monday through Saturday and 10 AM to 5 PM on Sunday.
The Mayborn Museum is a fascinating place! It's 143,000 square feet was packed with Texas history.
Interesting displays on the prehistoric era, caves and forests, geological facts, the Longhorn Steer, the American Bison or Buffalo and native American people captured our interest (pic #5).
We learned that a geological creation known as the Balcones Fault runs near the Brazos River and we viewed the fossilized remains of the largest turtle ever found--Prostega Gigas (pic #3). Diagrams of previous excavations and the resulting finds caused me to linger a while in this section--I find paleontology thoroughly engrossing!
A replica of a Comanche tipi (pic #2) and pioneer log house surely thrilled the younger crowd. As well as, a model train display (pic #4) which mesmerized one little boy we saw there.
The upper level contained a discovery center just brimming with hands-on fun for children. A theatre on the lower level presented the highlights of the Mayborn Museum. A gift shop had many items for purchase related to science and history, small toys plus post cards.
Hours are Mon.-Sat. 10am-5pm; Thurs. 10am-8pm and Sun. 1pm-5pm. Closed on New Year's Day, Easter weekend, Thaksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas.
Admission is $6 for adults; $5 for seniors; $4 for kids 18 mths. to 12 yrs.; Baylor students and members free.
Seeing a cast of the Texas Mammoth Site was my real reason for wanting to explore Mayborn Museum. The actual site is not open to the public yet, but plans are to establish a park around it.
A brief film explaining how a small herd of mammoths all met their end at the same time definitely added to our experience. Thick glass shields the display, but you can walk on top of it for further examination.
The scenario: As the herd was on the move, they crossed a creek which was swelling with water. Apparently the younger calves got stuck in the swirling mud and the matriarch and patriarch of the group attempted to save them--none escaped their doom and thousands of years later, the youngsters were found still cradled in their tusks.
An immense mammoth skull welcomes visitors to the museum (pic #2); other archaeological efforts in the state of Texas were shown, as well (pic #3).
View a country church and old time hotel or take a stroll along the nearby Brazos River, but the Governor Bill and Vara Daniel Historic Village gives you an opportunity to experience life as it was in simpler times.
It was the usual hot afternoon in Texas, but there was a bit of shade the trees provided. Walking up the dusty path dappled by sunlight, we were serenaded by birdsong. It truly did feel like we were eavesdropping on an earlier age. I couldn't imagine a more peaceful spot!
Here are some of the other buildings we saw:
The Blacksmith Shop
Schoolhouse (pic #2)
The Saloon (pic #3)
The Planter's House (pic #4)
Tenant's House (pic #5)
Hours Mon.-Sat. 10am-4pm.. Closed on Sundays. Can be entered through the Mayborn Museum. If separately, admission for Adults is $3; Seniors $2; kids 6-15 $1 and under 5 is free.
The historic village's landing represents the manner produce was shipped to and from the area. Cotton could be easily loaded onto boats here, then transported to far away ports, such as, Liverpool, England.
FYI: Many planters owned cotton gins and processed the cotton themselves. After the Civil War when the plantations were broken up into smaller parcels, towns reverted to community cotton gins. Most towns had at least one gin, while some had as many as a half dozen.
The Cotton Gin provided an important service to a town (pic #2). At one time the 'gin' referred to the machine, but later designated the building. This industry was vital to the Texas economy, with the busiest time of year being August-September.
An early tractor (pic #3) sits rusting outside the Cotton Gin.
Until late 1869, crossing the Brazos River at Waco could be a risky undertaking. Until then, the only way to cross was by ferry or by fording the river when the water was low. Capt. Shapley Ross had operated a primitive ferry across the river at Waco since 1849. But the Brazos could be treacherous after a rain and sometimes was impassable for days at a time. Commerce, especially the cattle drives coming through the growing town on the Chisholm Trail, needed a more secure crossing.
Construction began with the excavation for the footings of the twin double towers that would anchor the span. The towers, which required 2.7 million locally produced bricks to construct, were topped with crenelated ornamentation resembling a medieval castle. Workmen carried wires across the river to form the massive cables that would support the wooden roadway.
The span was completed in late December 1869, and the first tolls were collected on Jan. 1, 1870. The $141,000 structure -- the first bridge across the Brazos -- was dedicated five days later. The main span was so wide that two stagecoaches could pass each other, and it was 475 feet long.
Not only did the bridge company charge people to cross, but it also collected five cents per head from cattle drovers "for each loose animal of the cattle kind" that used the span. Since the Chisholm Trail went through Waco, a large number of cattle lumbered across, which helped the bridge company to retire its debt. Most drovers, however, still chose the cheaper alternative of swimming their herds across the Brazos.
(History courtesy of Texas almanac).
1910, Waco Texas
Although Skyscrapers were old news in New York and Chicago, visionaries of Texas were looking to grow into the heart of an economical revolution. Artemas Roberts of Waco was determined to make that heart grow in Waco. Artemas founded the Amicable Life Insurance Company in a 22 story tall building on 5th and Austin in Waco, and had the foresight to build this skyscraper with hurricane grade materials.
This proved to be wonderful insight, as the building suffered through the Waco Tornado of 1953, which destroyed all of downtown.
For many years, the ALICO tower stood as Texas' tallest building.
Still to this day, people use this building as its structure truly has stood the test of time.
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