On Saturday, March 12, 2016, we had the opportunity to visit the George Ranch Historical Park in Richmond. We were not in Richmond by accident but to celebrate a wedding that would be held at the Ranch that evening.
Established in 1988, the George Ranch is a 20,000+ acre living history ranch located 30 miles southwest of Houston, just south of US 59/IH 69 on FM 762 (take the Grand Parkway SH-99 exit). The working ranch strives to tell the story of four generations of a family that was among Stephen F. Austin’s “Old Three Hundred”, the original Anglo settlers of Texas.
We strongly advise you bring your walking shoes. While a tractor drawn tram is available, we walked most of the circuit of homes. The first home you come to is a reconstruction of a 1820s era “dog run” style house.
We encountered two living history actors here, a husband and wife. The husband was very quick to put my seven year old son to work fetching firewood! They introduced us to the George family and told the tales of how the Texas Coastal Plains looked when they first arrived, as well as a tour of their home.
From there, we moved on to the 1860s era home. We met a young man, likely 12 or 13, who was our guide. He showed us the men’s and women’s parlors on the second level of the home as well as the kitchen, dining room, and the bedrooms upstairs. He even demonstrated his favorite game, hoop rolling, for my son.
From there we continued our walk towards a sharecropper’s residence. While walking, we observed a sign that warned us to “Beware of Alligators and Snakes.” My son asked me if it was a joke and I assured him that it wasn’t. No sooner than we had that exchange, we found that it was a warning to be heeded, in a small bayou just to the side of the walking path was a small alligator enjoying the lovely March day.
At the sharecropper’s house, we met yet another actor who spoke of the challenges he faced in growing crops and raising pigs. From there, we saw cattle loading pens, complete with a cattle car and then a blacksmith. The blacksmith demonstrated his craft, curling a piece of iron several times over.
Moving on we saw the 1890s home, the family cemetery, and took the tractor drawn tram to the 1930s era livestock era where cowboys still work the cattle and horses on the property.
The visitors center includes a cafe that is currently closed for remodeling. A historic church, post office, and the 1905 Guy Lodge Hall also stand near the entrance. The church and hall are available for event rentals, and in the case of the wedding that we attended that evening, make the perfect location for a country wedding within an hour’s drive of America’s 4th largest city.
Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children. Tickets may also be purchased for the historic meal program, which is held on Saturdays. A 1930s era BBQ was held on the day we attended, each Saturday is a different style meal at a different location, the full schedule is on their website.
If you’re near Houston or Galveston and looking for an authentic Texas museum experience that will walk you through 100 years of history, you can’t beat the George Ranch Historical Park. We are pleased to announce they are the winners of our inaugural Museum of the Month award, honoring great education sites in Texas.