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Museums, sights to see

Sept. 20, 1996

Chelsa Dunn/ The LariatThirsty visitors can enjoy the No. 1 drink in Waco while touring the historic Dr Pepper Museum.

By Russell Reneau

Lariat Reporter

For students looking for some place in Waco to take their parents other than the Branch Davidian Compound, the city offers a wide variety of museums and other tourist attractions ranging from history to sports to soda.

The Texas Ranger Museum, located at Interstate 35 and University Parks Drive in the Fort Fisher complex, contains artifacts and the history of the Texas Rangers, the oldest law enforcement agency in the United States.

'The museum has one of the best collections of firearms related to the Rangers and early Texas,' Byron Johnson, director of the museum, said.

The museum also contains a rifle belonging to Billy the Kid, an original Bowie knife belonging to the Jim Bowie, who fell at the Alamo, and artifacts from other famous men such as Gen. Sam Houston and 'Buffalo' Bill Cody.

'The museum is a very interesting place for anyone who has an interest in western American history,' Johnson said.

The Texas Sports Hall of Fame is also on University Parks Drive. The Hall houses memorabilia from Texas athletes such as former Baylor quarterback Cody Carlson, boxer George Foreman, running backs Thurman Thomas and Earl Campbell and late University of Texas golf coach Harvey Penick. The Hall also features the Tom Landry Theater and the Grant Teaff Room.

'The Grant Teaff room is probably the number one display,' Gary Wilson, special projects coordinator of the Hall, said. 'Alumni and students of Baylor enjoy seeing the history of the football team under Coach Teaff.'

The hall of fame also contains the 1938 Heisman Trophy won by Davey O'Brien of Texas Christian University and a baseball hall of fame wing that houses a life-sized statue of Alvin native Nolan Ryan and many autographed baseballs, bats and jerseys.

'As an added bonus, anyone that shows a ticket to the Baylor-Oregon St. game will receive half price admission this weekend,' Patrick Posey, manager of the Hall, said.

Waco is also the birthplace of Dr Pepper. Dr Pepper was created in 1885 by Dr. Charles Alderton at the Old Corner Drug Store. The museum contains a recreation of the Old Corner Drug Store and an armitron, a life-like mannequin, of Alderton that tells the history of the soft drink.

'The museum also contains a great gift shop where I would recommend picking up a Dr Pepper shake, a Dr Pepper sundae or just an old-fashioned Dr Pepper after the tour,' Teresa Rambo, a museum employee said.

The 19th century cowboys and cattle ranchers on the Chisholm Trail needed a place to cross over the Brazos River, so the Suspension Bridge was constructed in 1870 through a bond-election financed by the gracious citizens of Waco. The bridge is located between Franklin and Washington avenues.

Waco also has tours of five historic homes: the Earle-Harrison House, the Fort House, East Terrace, the Earle-Napier-Kinnard House and the McCulloch House. The Taylor Museum of Waco History, Cameron Park Zoo and the Art Center are also places of interest in the city.

For more information on these and other attractions, the tourist information center is located at I-35 and University Parks Drive or by phone at 750-8696.

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