By Savannah Magoteaux
The Red River Valley Museum is a hub of north Texas art and history and is located on the campus of Vernon College in Vernon, Texas. The museum was created in 1964, with the gift of the J. Henry and Ethel Ray artifact collection.
This expansive collection of fossils and native artifacts was uncovered in more than 25 years of exploring Wilbarger County and the Red River Valley area. “It was given to the city of Vernon with the condition that the city would house it, and the city did – in four different spots,” noted Sherry Yoakum, Red River Valley Museum Executive Director.
The first location for the collection was a coat closet in the Wilbarger Auditorium. “You can imagine 10,000 pieces of artifacts in a coat closet. There wasn’t much room. Especially not when one of them is the back jawbone of a wooly mammoth!”
The artifacts were next housed in an old hospital. “There was also a third location, but in 1985 we opened this building on the campus, and that’s where we’ve been ever since,” Yoakum explained.