Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum history on display
When not working on the production of the longest non-motorized parade in the world, the Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee’s efforts turn to their other love, the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum.
The Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee owns a collection of more than 170 pieces of “rolling stock:” horse-drawn buggies, buckboards, stagecoaches and farm wagons, which are featured in the Tucson Rodeo Parade each year.
The Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum is located at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds, corner of 6th Ave. and Irvington Road. The museum complex includes the old hanger of Tucson’s first airport the first municipally owned airport in the country.
The museum provides visitors the opportunity to take a giant step back to the Tucson and the Old West that was. A stroll down the museum’s wooden sidewalks takes you past a blacksmith’s shop, the Royal Irving Saloon and Jacob’s Assay Office. Visitors can stand in front of the original registration desk of the Hotel El Conquistador and take in a panoramic view of the old hotel.
While the Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee works to preserve the character of its equipment, they have made some important modifications through the years.
The Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee has set its sights on renovation of the museum facilities and enhancement of its displays. Work has begun on an enlarged museum that will give its visitors a better look into Tucson’s history.
In fact, most of the Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee equipment has been enhanced with a braking system. These brakes are often the main focus of volunteer work details as each piece of horse-drawn equipment receives new brakes annually. The brakes operate similarly to what’s found in an automobile and help drivers keep pace with the parade. These brakes can also be applied in emergency situations and significantly enhance the stopping ability of parade equipment.
All of the included equipment may be viewed in various displays at the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum.
The Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum has an inventory of 150 vehicles, ranging from small buggies to elaborate coaches, carriages, wagons and historical artifacts from pioneer days. Walk among over 125 horse-drawn vehicles and great displays featuring life as it was in late 19th century Tucson.
A re-created Main Street representing what early Tucson would have offered in terms of businesses and services is displayed at the museum.
Three buildings house museum artifacts and exhibits. The large metal building was originally the city's first airport hanger, established in 1918 and dedicated on November 20, 1919.
This was the location of the first municipally owned airport in the United States.
The concept of a museum for public visitation was developed in 1962 by Peter Waggoner, an original charter member of the Parade Committee. The museum continues to develop as funds are found with a goal to have it open year round.
The museum stores vehicles manufactured by Ronstadt, Studebaker, Brewster, Healey and other, and used in films starring Maureen O'Hara, Ava Gardner and John Wayne are among the offerings.
Historic vehicles used by Maximilian, Mexico's ill-fated ruler, and Howell Manning of the Tucson Manning family are also on display.