Heritage, Volume 10, Number 3, Summer 1992 Page: 22
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Historic Tour of
By Linda J. Moreland
Stories of courage, stories of hardship,
stories of victory and defeat...stories of life
are all told through a variety of interpretive
exhibits at the Panhandle-Plains Historical
Museum. Located in Canyon, 17
miles south of Amarillo on Interstate 27, it
is the largest state museum in Texas.
Since 1921 the Panhandle-Plains Historical
Society has collected and preserved
the tangible history of this region. The
Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in
Canyon was established through a partnership
between the Society and the State
of Texas and opened its doors in 1933.
Since that time, the Museum has served
the people of the Panhandle area as a
repository and interpreter of history, science,
When the Museum was dedicated in
1933, it existed as a 12,500-square foot
building. Embellished in art deco motifs
popular during that era and constructed
from Texas limestone, it signified the importance
that Panhandle people placed
upon their cultural heritage.
As collections grew, the Museum required
more space. In 1941, a drive was
initiated to raise money and raw materials
for expansion. Panhandle residents donated
271,000 bricks for the building, but due to
an interruption caused by World War II, it
was not completed until 1952.
Another addition to the Museum was
begun in 1966. Completed in 1967, it added
50,000 square feet to the Museum and
provided much needed exhibit space as
well as a home for the Research Center and
In 1973 when West Texas State University
built the new Cornette Library, the
school donated the old library building to
the museum. This building is the main
office area and artifact storage facility for
the present-day museum. It also houses the
museum's extensive collection of wagons,
buggies, and automobiles.
The Don D. Harrington Petroleum Wing
was completed in 1986, adding another
75,000-square feet to the Museum. It features
walk-through dioramas of a typical
Panhandle oil patch, a reconstructed cable
tool drilling rig, and a working pump jack.
An authentic 1930s filling station, com
plete with hand-operated gas pump, and
the Model-T Ford, is a favorite with museum
The newly renovated Arts Wing and
the Grady and Andrine Hazlewood Lecture
Hall houses exhibits pertaining to
historic costume, decorative arts, and fine
arts. The Hazlewood Lecture Hall provides
meeting space with the most modern audiovisual
Exhibit areas presently in place are representative
of the museum's many collections.
These include fine art, historic
Southern Plains Indians, history of ranching,
history of petroleum, paleontology,
Visitors to the Panhandle Plains Museum will see this cable tool drilling rig, circa 1925. This type of rig was
used in the Panhandle of Texas as late as 1935.
22 HERITAGE * SUMMER 1992
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 10, Number 3, Summer 1992, periodical, Summer 1992; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45419/m1/22/: accessed May 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.