Red River Valley Museum
The Red River Valley Museum is the place for art, history, culture, and science in North Texas! While visiting the RRVM you will explore Texas history from the day of the dinosaur to the present, animals and habitats from around the globe, and the famed Waggoner Ranch. Our newly remodeled exhibits are interactive, educational, and accessible for all visitors.
The Berry History & Science Gallery: Explore Prehistoric to Present Day Wilbarger County
Step back in time to the age of the dinosaur when you enter The Berry Room which houses select portions of the J. Henry and Ethel Ray Artifacts Collection. This vast collection of fossils and native artifacts was uncovered in over twenty-five years of exploring Wilbarger County and the Red River Valley area. The rich and colorful history of Wilbarger County can be traced over 10,000 years ago as evidenced by the artifacts found in this collection.
Continuing through the Berry Room will lead you through the course of Wilbarger County’s history. Learn about Quanah Parker, the Doan’s family and the annual Doan’s Picnic, the Great Western Cattle Drive, and so much more! The county’s more modern history is recounted in this exhibit as well. The primary source of income for Wilbarger today is agriculture and oil related products, Wright Brand Foods which is now a Tyson plant, Solvay – a plant which produces items from guar, Vernon Regional Junior College, and a State Hospital.
The William A. Bond Trophy & Game Room: Take an International Safari in One Day
Lions, tigers, bears and more await visitors to this incredible animal collection!
This one of a kind collection features animals ranging from the tiny Dik Dik, an antelope that populates the savannahs of eastern Africa, to the mighty Polar Bear that inhabits the frigid Arctic Circle. Learn about these animals and their native habitats as you explore the gallery. This collection of animals from around the world was donated by William “Bill” Bond, a successful rancher who was instrumental in the establishment of the Red River Valley Museum.
Newly remodeled in the fall of 2020, The Bond Gallery teaches visitors the importance of conservation. Discover facts about all 130+ animals in this collection and learn how smart human impact can help endangered animals regrow their population!
The Waggoner Gallery: Discover the History of Ranching in North Texas
When W.T. Waggoner was just a lad, he and his father set about on an adventure that would end with a ranching empire of well over 500,000 acres of Texas land, covering parts of six counties. The Waggoner Ranch would come to be known as the largest ranch in the United States under one fence at 530,000 acres.
Learn about the history of the ranching industry in Wilbarger County, the Waggoner Ranch, and what it means to be a Cowboy while exploring the Waggoner Gallery.
The Betty King Wright Art Gallery
The Wright Gallery is the Museum’s rotating exhibit space. Every summer it holds the Annual RRVM Art Show that features artists from across the nation.
Within the Wright Gallery is the Betty King Wright Gallery. This portion of the room houses the Museum’s permanent collection of fine art.
History of the Museum
Mrs. Ethel Ray was a member of the Vernon Delphian Society in the 1930s. This group promoted the education of women. Ethel was tasked with writing an essay on the “Principal Indians of the Southwest” and her research efforts for this paper led to the eventual creation of the Red River Valley Museum! Ethel and her husband, J. Henry, took up archeology to see what they could learn about the peoples who lived in Vernon before them. This quickly became a passion for them both. They uncovered thousands of fossils and artifacts in Wilbarger county and the surrounding area alone!
The Rays became nationally recognized for their work in the field and wrote many papers on their discoveries about the early peoples, plants, and animals of North Texas. They displayed their finds in their private home and opened it up to visitors from far and wide. Anyone who passed through Vernon was told to make a stop at the Ray’s home before leaving town!
After over 40 years of studying and searching, the couple decided to retire. They donated their collection to their hometown of Vernon… with the catch that the city would continue to display it for all to see. Unfortunately, the collection was all but forgotten about until the 1970s as it had been displayed in a tiny cloak room at the local auditorium. The Ray’s collection was given a more proper home in an old hospital building that had been repurposed to hold the artifacts.
Here the collection remained until the mid 1980s until Bill Bond, a Vernon rancher, banker, and globe trotting big game hunter donated a collection of his own to the museum. He worked in tandem with Helen Willingham (nee Waggoner) to have a new, state of the art facility constructed adjacent to the Vernon College campus. This new building housed the Ray Collection, Mr. Bond’s trophy mount collection, and items from the Waggoner ranch and family!
Vernon, TX 76384