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Tuesday April 28 — Dr. Peppers & Texas Rangers

• CATEGORIES: Features • TAGS: .
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Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco, Tx, and a happy Dr. Pepper fan eagerly waiting to venture inside.

We had big plans for Tuesday morning. Our first stop was going to be the outdoor historic village of Buffalo Gap. So, when I hopped out of bed at 7:30am and saw that it was raining, we quickly changed that plan. Without feeling rushed, we somehow didn’t get out of the room until 10:30am.

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The rain was gently falling as we got onto eastbound Interstate 20. Soon we turned southeast on highway 6. If there’s one thing I like about these Texas state highways it is the speed limit: 75mph. That’s faster than any of the speeds on Oregon’s inter estates. You can get places in Texas, however the places are so spread apart, that even at 75 it doesn’t seem fast enough.

Eventually we reached Dublin, Texas. I spotted a cool Dr. Pepper sign and asked Ann if she’d like a photo of it. She agreed, so I did a loop around the block, We weren’t halfway around when we ran into several more Dr. Pepper signs. Then we spotted a Dr. Pepper museum reference. That’s when the light clicked for both us. We both remembered reading that besides the Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco, there was a second one in a small Texas town. This was it.

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This is the billboard I spotted while driving through Dublin.

Feeling lucky, we jumped out of the jeep to see what this was all about. We learned that Dublin was home to the first Dr. Pepper bottling plant. The Dublin plant used cane sugar in all their soda pop products, including Dr. Pepper, even when the rest of Dr. Pepper world switched to high fructose corn syrup. This fact angered the Dr. Pepper company, so the company revoked Dublin’s right to bottle and sell it. Now, the Dublin Bottling Works bottles and sells a variety of custom flavors and sells them all over the country.

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After succumbing to the sugar bug and buying several bottles of Dublin’s finest for the road, we left for Waco. We weren’t on the road long before I spotted a billboard for the Billy the Kid Museum. Of course, we had to pull off and learn why there was a Billy the Kid museum in the small town of Hico (pronounced High-co).

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Part visitor center, part museum, and part tourist-trap, the proprietor wore several hats. At the front of the building was the visitor center that explained Hico’s early days. For some reason there were references to Gettysburg, but how that related to Hico wasn’t clear (to me anyway). We eventually skipped through the saloon doors in the rear where the museum was located. About half of the Billy the Kid Museum was devoted to his story, while the other half contained artifacts about town history rather than him. Maybe it was just me, but it seemed a bit of a jumbled.

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I’ll just cut to the chase here and report what I learned. According to the museum, Billy the Kid was never killed by Pat Garrett. Instead, he quietly lived his later years in the town of Hico under the named Ollie “Brushy Bill” Roberts. Not surprisingly, the validity of this claim remains in doubt.

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Entrance to Dr. Pepper Museum

Back on the road again, we finally arrived in Waco, the birthplace of the Waco drink, better known as Dr. Pepper. As my wife loves herself a Dr. Pepper, the Dr. Pepper Museum was a must-stop. The drink that became Dr. Pepper was first developed in 1885 by Charles Alderton, a pharmacist working at Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store in Waco who liked to experiment. He called the drink ‘Waco’ and it became a local favorite. Alderton’s boss decided it needed better branding, so he renamed it Dr. Pepper, though how he came up with the name is uncertain.

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Nicely done animatronic version of Charles Alderton. He explained the history of Dr. Pepper.

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The first floor had lots of good texture.

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The bottling exhibit area included an excavated artesian well used for the original Dr. Pepper drink and other bottled products produced out of Waco. The well was abandoned for decades before being excavated for the museum.

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There were two display cases of Dr. Pepper thermometers.

The first floor of the Dr. Pepper Museum contains stories, histories and artifacts about Dr. Pepper’s development. The second story is devoted more to marketing, though most of the second floor feels empty. There is one neat exhibit in the corner of the second floor that allows viewers to play radio and TV commercials. The third floor is devoted to a former president of Dr. Pepper and the Free Enterprise Institute. The president played an important role in make the museum happen, but the third floor just felt out of place to me.

While the museum was worth the stop, I wish they’d embedded the history of Dr. Pepper with the rise in popularity of other soda drinks (and done similar contextualizations in other portions of the museum).  There was also no information about Dr. Pepper outside the United States. The Coca Cola museum in Georgia does a fine job of showing the reach of the product and allowing sample tastes of its product from different countries (or used to — I haven’t been there since 2001).

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By the time we left the museum, I was hungry. So, we ran over to Buzzard Billy’s, a reader recommended restaurant. Nether I nor Ann had been to one, so this seemed like the perfect time. It’s a small chain of four restaurants from Texas to Wisconsin. They serve ‘New Orleans & American Cuisine’ and include Alligator tail on their menu. Between the two samplers we ordered, we had a wide variety of foods — gumbo, oysters, alligator, chicken, shrimp and more — that we both enjoyed.

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With full bellies, we drove to our last stop of the day, the Texas Ranger Museum and Hall of Fame. No, it isn’t a museum devoted to the baseball team. The Texas Ranger Museum shares the history of the famous lawmen whose roles evolved multiple times over their history. Founded by Stephen Austin in 1823, they began dealing with Indian skirmishes, then switched the Civll War. Once the war had ended they found themselves chasing outlaws and catching fence cutters. Eventually, the Rangers evolved into a modern detective and police agency. The size of the museum surprised us and we spent quite a bit of time wandering the time lines of histories and rangers. The museum also has a large gun collection. We enjoyed the museum, though I found no evidence that rangers ever used jeeps.

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We were done with the Ranger museum by 4:30, so we decided to head to our motel, forgetting completely about a trip to the Dog Museum. The dog museum has over 7000 collectible dogs on display, along with other antiques. I think we’ll end up skipping that one.

We still have to decide what we are doing on Wednesday. All I know at the moment is that by Thursday evening we’ll be in Fredericksburg.

 (Want to see more of the 2015 Texas Trip? View the posts from the beginning)

 

 

7 Comments on “Tuesday April 28 — Dr. Peppers & Texas Rangers

  1. Idaho Todd

    Mmmm, I do love Dr. Pepper. The Texas ranger museum looks interesting too. Alligator tail? I tried alligator once, it tasted like chicken…

  2. Brian L.

    The real reason Dublin Dr.Pepper got killed was they developed a market out of their assigned distribution territory. They offered a superior product and the other distributors were pissed they were cutting into their markets. The high end grocery stores like Whole Foods were selling it as a premium product. It all came down to product envy.

  3. Mom

    Looks like some comic books staring the Lone Ranger and Tonto. Think I read some of those as I was a fan of them. Great heroes!

  4. mmdeilers Post author

    A trip to Texas without a trip to Nacogdoches wouldn’t be a trip to Texas (for us anyway). You guys did say you are near there, yes? Some of our timelines were shifting a little, so I was going to contact you guys in a week or so. We are probably around 10 days from being in your area. We’ll be swinging south before turning east and following the coast up to Houston. Then we’ll wander northward through East Texas.

  5. Leann Dela Cruz

    How do you guys find all these little places to stop, they’re way cool! Apparently I need to get with you and you can show me how it’s done. Loving all your travels!

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