On U.S. Highway 60, 55 miles northeast of Amarillo
Where in the 806 can you time travel back to 1916, scramble into a Coast Guard helicopter and jam to the vibe of a Dust Bowl troubadour?
All can be done in Pampa, Texas.
The story of the settlement of a large swath of the Texas Panhandle lies at the White Deer Land Museum at 112 S. Cuyler St. The museum’s 1916 main building served as the last headquarters of White Deer Land Co., a London-financed and Wall Street-based trust that owned 631,000 acres in Gray, Roberts, Carson and Hutchinson counties—equal to the size of the state of Rhode Island.
The White Deer firm formed in the 1870s-80s during widespread British speculation into Texas cattle and ranching. The original vault, land deeds, furniture and other items are on display. The museum also contains scenes and artifacts of life in Gray County through the years, an art exhibition gallery and a wing sharing the story of the 1870s Red River War between the U.S. Army and indigenous tribes.
You’ll know Freedom Museum USA before you ever step foot inside. Military rolling stock and aircraft occupy the grounds of the building at 600 N. Hobart St. The Pelican Sikorsky HH-3F Coast Guard began its service as a test helicopter for environmental cleanup—oil spill dredging—and continued a long life in the guard.
Among the other craft is a Mitchell B-25 D Medium Bomber on loan from the National Museum of the Marine Corps at Quantico, Virginia. It’s the type that would have been used in pilot training when the old Pampa Army Airfield operated during World War II. Inside the museum, you’ll find a large array of artifacts and memorabilia from most every war, with a lot of it coming from locals who served and their families.
On most Friday evenings, you can catch a weekly jam session with area musicians at the Woody Guthrie Folk Music Center. There’s also the occasional concert by a touring band.
Displays in the center tell the story of Guthrie, the singer-songwriter behind classics like “This Land is Your Land.” The iconic American folk singer arrived in Pampa in his late teens, started playing guitar there, and worked at the Harris Drug Store, which now houses the center. His experiences in Pampa inspired lyrics to some of his well-known songs.
Check out Panhandle PBS — panhandlePBS.org /where-in-the-806 and the station’s social media—for video tours of these museums and other highlights from Pampa.
The White Deer Land Co. operated from 1886 to 1957. The office built for the company in 1916 now houses the White Deer Land Museum, which focuses on the firm, as well Gray County history. Notice the black-and-white photos on display. They show the office and furniture in use in those early days.
The stage at the Woody Guthrie Folk Music Center awaits its next performer.
Military aircraft and rolling stock can be seen up close at Pampa’s Freedom Museum USA.
Brick & Elm offers these insider tips to make the most of your visit to Pampa. Fuel up and grab snacks for the road at an Amarillo Pak-a-Sak before your adventure!
Coney Island Cafe (114 W. Foster) is a classic old-time diner known for its from-scratch meals and homemade chili. Grab a chili dog and enjoy the mid-century charm.
Finley’s Fountain (114 N. Cuyler) is a bakery and American diner serving old-fashioned burgers, shakes and malts, and classic breakfasts. Try the cherry limeades.
Mejia’s Bakery (315 W. Foster) is home to amazing pastries and churros at truly affordable prices. The Mexican eatery serves authentic Mexican favorites plus La Michoacaña ice cream.
Hampton Inn Pampa (2820 Perryton Pkwy.) is a standard 3-star hotel located near the Walmart Supercenter.
Holiday Inn Express (3119 Perryton Pkwy.) offers another familiar hotel chain option, just a short step down Highway 70.
Urban Hidden Acres RV Park (1708 W. Kentucky) is on the quiet west side of town, with 25 full-service hookups.
Pampa H20 Aquatic Center (1400 N. Sumner St.) is an inexpensive aquatic facility for the whole family, with children’s areas, diving boards, thrilling slides and more.
Pak-A-Sak (1701 N. Hobart) is located right down the street from the Aquatic Center. Get gas and snacks before heading home.