Entertainment Magazine: Tucson: Tucson Rodeo: Museum

Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum history on display

Tucson Rodeo MuseumAt the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum, you can walk among over 125 horse-drawn vehicles and great displays featuring life as it was in late 19th century Tucson.  

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 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. 

Museum Location

The Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum is located at 4865 S. 6th Avenue (at the southeast corner of S. 6th Ave. and Irvington Road). The museum is on the historic Tucson Rodeo Grounds and the museum complex includes the old hanger of Tucson's first airport– the first municipally owned airport in the country.

Museum Schedule

The Parade Museum is open Monday through Saturday, January through April 8, 2017 from9:30 AM – 3:30 PM.  During Rodeo Week (Febr. 18-26) there is a revised schedule. Call 520-294-3636 for the cuurent schedule.

Parade Museum Cost

Admission is a $10 donation suggested per adult; $7 seniors, and $2 for children under age 16. Active military (and families) with ID are 50% off.  VA patients are NO CHARGE. Tax deductible donations in any amount may be made to the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum, P.O. Box 1788, Tucson, AZ  85702.

School Tours of the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum

The museum is a popular tour for school classes and Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee volunteers serve as tour guides, instructing the children on the history, use and mechanical workings of these vintage vehicles. Students become “drivers,” “passengers,” “horses” and even “baggage” as they explore the equipment. Leather harness, reins and horse collars accompany the wagons to allow a complete presentation. 

Some of the museum pieces most popular with the schools are the Tucson Police paddy wagon, the “mud wagon” stagecoach, a freight wagon that doubled as a school bus and the surrey “with the fringe on top.” By equating the classic wagons to a vehicle of today (e.g., buckboard = pickup truck; stagecoach = Greyhound bus) the Tucson Rodeo Parade Committee volunteers are able to put these wagons in a modern perspective for the children.

Contact the Tucson Rodeo Museum

Call 520-294-1280 Office, 520-294-3636 Museum or visit www.tucsonrodeoparade.org for more information about the museum and its public and school tours.


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Preserving Tucson's history

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.

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.

Parade Committee members built a replica pioneer stockade in front of the main entrance to the museum in 1963. The ribbon cutting ceremony was done in true rodeo style. The 1965 Rodeo Queen, Kathleen Graf, rode through the ribbon, officially opening the museum. The exterior of the museum remains as it was then and is a prominent landmark on the Tucson Rodeo Grounds.


Inside the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum

Scenes inside the Tucson Rodeo Museum and carraige warehouse. Photo credit: Robert Zucker, Entertainment Magazine


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