The Panhandle Plains Historical Museum boast itself as the largest historical museum in the state, and after roaming the 3 floors that make up the museum for almost 5 hours, I’m very tempted to believe it! Set on the West Texas A&M Campus in Canyon, it’s a perfect accompaniment to a vacation to Palo Duro Canyon or Amarillo!
1. Know Before You Go
FREE Museum Parking is available along the west side of the museum.
The museum allows you to come and go, which is nice since they don’t sell food. We came early, stayed about 3.5 hours, left for lunch at the Ranch House Cafe, and came back for another 1.5 hour to finish our visit.
Photography is allowed everywhere except the art galleries.
2. People of the Plains Exhibit
We started our exploration of the museum in the People of the Plains Exhibit. The room is filled with information about the cattle ranches and drives and the Native American cultures who called the plains home. My children enjoyed the interactive games, and I really enjoyed reading about the village of Antelope Creek, where prehistoric people lived from 1150 A.D. to 1450 A.D. in mud huts and dug down to use the underground flint for making stone tools.
To learn more about Antelope Creek, as well as earlier cultures such as Clovis and Folsom people, and the Alibates Flint Quarry National Monument, located north of Amarillo along the Canadian River, click HERE.
3. Pioneer Town
We spent the most time exploring and playing in the Pioneer Town! 26 smaller than scale buildings are arranged to recreate a feeling of stepping back in time on a western street, but it’s all on the inside! We played checkers outside the mercantile, dressed up and attended class at the schoolhouse, robbed the bank and much, much more!
The Panhandle of Texas is synonomous with oil and the boomtowns that followed it’s discovery!
Long before cattle and bison were roaming the plains of West Texas, this was home to mammoths and dinosaurs before them. Learn of some of the exciting finds in area.
The geology of the nearby Palo Duro Canyon is amazing, and the museum certainly bows to it’s importance! A miniature recreation of the canyon shows the familiar Lighthouse structure. There is also an interesting display about the Amarillo Mountains, (don’t start packing your mountain climbing gear, they are buried underground), and the Ogallala Aquifer!
You can’t visit the West Texas plains without noticing the WIND! Windmills were an important feature to the people who lived here, and after reading and taking pictures of the different types, we had fun back out on the road recognizing the ones we still see in use.
We could have left my husband in the transportation exhibit, gone to lunch for an hour, and returned without ever being missed!
There are lots and lots and even more guns, but our favorite part of this exhibit was getting to hold a real rifle and pistol which was used during the “Old West”. They were much heavier than we expected, and larger!
Be sure to look for the rifles once owned by Comanche chief Quanah Parker and Charles Goodnight!
Be sure and pick up a PPHMfit card when you first arrive, and get it stamped at each of the 7 kiosk locations in the museum. Once you have done this, you will have taken over 2,000 steps and walked almost a MILE! Return the card to the gift shop to receive a PPHMfit water bottle!
11. Georgia O’Keefe
There are several art galleries on the second floor of the museum, but just a little side exhibit about Georgia O’Keefe and her life in Canyon from 1916 – 1918 when she taught at what is now West Texas A&M.
During our lunch break, we drove just up the road to 500 20th St. to see the house where she rented a room during her stay.
11. Tractor and Farm Equipment Exhibit
We found this exhibit completely by accident, because it’s not listed on the website, nor could we find any information about it at the museum. Located just west of the West Texas A&M First United Bank Center, located at 2501 4th Ave., in a big field are over 20 tractors, plows and other aging farm equipment, scattered along a serpentine walkway.
Panhandle Plains Historical Museum
2503 4th Ave, Canyon
(806) 651 – 2244
Click HERE to visit their website
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