By Darla Shelden
Museum of the Plains, located at 1200 N. Main in Perryton, Texas, contains unexpected treasures that document the history of the Texas Panhandle and the European settlement of the Great Plains.
Stacy L. Brown, Museum Director said, “I think the biggest thing that people don’t realize when they come to the Museum is that Perryton has 9,000 people, but this museum, the size and scope of it, belongs in a big city. We’re situated over 4 acres and we have six buildings. We cover a lot of history and it’s just the scale of it that surprises people more than anything.”
Perryton was formed out of two communities that met on the Atchison Topeka Santa Fe rail line. To the south was Ochiltree, Texas and to the north was Gray, Oklahoma. In 1919, both towns moved and merged to form the town of Perryton.
Opened in 1975, the Museum of the Plains houses over 10,000 artifacts chronicling the history of Ochiltree County and Perryton.
Oklahoma City resident Bob Lemon, formerly from Perryton, said, “The Museum of the Plains is a very historic place. There’s a covered wagon at the Museum that my father, R.M. Lemon, brought there with my oldest son, Del, years and years ago.
“He bought it new from a town in Missouri. It was just like the covered wagon that he used when he moved a herd of cattle from Nash, Oklahoma to Booker, Texas in 1921.”
Lemon moved to Perryton after finishing law school. It’s where his law firm, Lemon Shearer Phillips & Good is located today.
“My wife Mary Lou and I lived in Perryton and I’ve been practicing law there for over 60 years,” said Lemon.
Bob Lemon’s son Eli Grayson, said, “The Museum is one of those places that is totally unexpected. It’s full of decades of history from that part of Texas. There’s a great collection of Native American artifacts from the area. It’s a fascinating place and you are shocked that it is there.”
Marilyn Reiswig, Perryton Chamber of Commerce President said, “For a community the size of Perryton, we have the largest museum north of the Canadian River in the Texas panhandle.
“The exhibits include Wooly Mammoth bones found at Wolf Creek/Lake Fryer, to thimble collections, to petroleum information, hanging airplanes, one of the best flint arrowhead collections, a building that shows what an old time Mercantile looks like, and a red Santa Fe Railroad Caboose.”
In 1926, Ochiltree County became known as the “Wheatheart of the Nation” after shipping out over 3,500,000 bushels of wheat in a single season.
Brown said, “A great time to visit the museum is during Perryton’s annual Pioneer Day celebration, which will be held on Saturday, August 24. It will cap off the Wheatheart of the Nation Celebration, themed Life As It Should Be.”
Saturday morning festivities start with a big campfire style breakfast, followed by the Big Brother’s Big Sisters 5K Run/FunWalk. There will be a gathering of the Old Timers, a Muscle Car Show and more. The parade will step off at 10 a.m.
“The Museum’s Pioneer Day is a celebration within a celebration,” said Reiswig. “We have a huge week long celebration every year in honor of our city’s birthday which culminates in Pioneer Day.”
Lemon said, “Each year I get the bands lined up to march in the parade. It started when they asked me to be Grand Marshall and I said I would if they let me invite some bands.
“My law firm and I agreed to pony up and pay each band to come to Perryton on Pioneer Day. We’ve been doing it every year since then. This year we have 13 high school bands and one junior high band.”
Reiswig said, “We have nicknamed Bob ‘The Music Man,’ he’s our own Professor Harold Hill. Mr. Lemon has been so instrumental in helping us for the last 7 years to grow our Pioneer Day parade. His mother was in the first parade that went down Main Street in Perryton. He’s just done a fabulous job.”
The Museum Pioneer Day festivities take place from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. featuring homemade ice cream, hamburgers, entertainment and a day full of fun, education and history for the entire family.
The Museum of the Plains hosts private parties and other events such as the Perryton Stone Age Fair and Christmas Open House. The Old Ochiltree Gift Emporium allows visitors to take home a part of history.
Reiswig added, “With a short four hour drive from Oklahoma City to Perryton, TX, the Museum of the Plains offers one of the biggest bangs for your buck that you’ll ever find. From good old fashion family entertainment to the most interesting exhibits anywhere around.”
For more information visit www.museumoftheplains.com or call 808-426-6400.
Museum of the Plains is an unexpected treasure for the entire family
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