From Frontier Outpost to Texas Ranger Historical Center

Last updated on May 30, 2024 at 03:00 PM

Fort Fisher

Since October 1968, the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum has consistently been one of Waco’s top tourist attractions, welcoming over 4.3 million visitors since its opening. It is a source of pride for the City and a site that honors and celebrates part of Texas’ history.

In the mid-1960s, Waco resident James Leblond and then-Texas Ranger Capt. Clint Peoples discussed the need for the Rangers to have a larger headquarters in Waco.  At the time, the Rangers were located in the local Department of Public Safety (DPS) offices. 

From Fort Fisher to Museum

Black and white aerial view of Fort Fisher camp grounds In April 1964, the Texas Public Safety Commission granted state authorization to the City of Waco and the Waco Chamber of Commerce to construct a museum at Fort Fisher Park along what would become Interstate 35 dedicated to the Texas Rangers and serve as the new headquarters for Texas Rangers Company F.

Fort Fisher was constructed in February 1837 before the founding of Waco by order of William Fisher, Secretary of War for the Republic of Texas. It was a humble collection of quickly constructed shelters on the banks of the Brazos River to house a small company of Texas Rangers. After only a few months, it was decided that this location was too remote for the Rangers, and so it was abandoned. The original site of Fort Fisher is unknown.

With the backing of Waco voters in a February 1967 bond package, the dream of a museum honoring the Texas Rangers had the funding to become a reality. By November, architect David Carnahan transformed those dreams into plans. At the groundbreaking ceremony one month later, it was announced that the museum would be called the Col. Homer Garrison Museum.

A Museum Evolves

Old photo of Texas Ranger Museum After years of planning, on October 25, 1968, the new headquarters of Texas Ranger Company F and the Homer Garrison Jr. Museum of Texas Ranger History opened its doors to a crowd of 3,000 Texans.

Over time, the museum evolved into a comprehensive historical center with the addition of the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame State Memorial in 1976, the Ida Morris Wing, Joe Troy Brownfield addition, and banquet center in the 1980s, the $2.1 million Company F headquarters expansion in 2005, the Tobin and Anne Armstrong Texas Ranger Research Center in 2012, and the additional galleries.

Further helping the museum, the Texas Legislature passed a resolution in 1997 sponsored by State Rep. Jim Pitts designating the Texas Ranger Museum as “the official state repository of Texas Ranger memorabilia…” 

The Texas Ranger Legacy Continues

In 2024, conversations about the future of the museum include the possibility of building a new facility in Downtown Waco.  Wherever the museum will call home, the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum will continue to be a beacon for Texans — a place to celebrate the Rangers' rich legacy and inspire future generations.

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