Route 66 - Devil's Rope

The entrance to the Devil's Rope & Route 66
Museums in McLean, Texas
With the sun verging on hanging low to let us know the day was almost done, we pulled into the town of McLean and easily found our destination - The Devil's Rope Museum.

In 1901, Alfred Rowe, an English Rancher, donated land near a railroad cattle loading stop for the establishment of a town. The railroad dug a water well and built a section house there and the town began to grow. Within a couple of years, the citizens had chosen the name of McLean for their town in honor of Judge William McLean who served in the Texas Legislature and on the Railroad Commission. By 1912 when Rowe died in the sinking of the Titanic, the town had been incorporated and had become home to over 1,000 people. By 1927 when Route 66 was built through town, there were about 1,200 citizens. McLean's population temporarily tripled from 1942 until 1945 when the Army built a POW camp for 3,000 German prisoners. In 1984, the town was bypassed by the newly constructed I-40 and with the prominence of Amarillo and Pampa surpassing McLean, the population began to decline from 1,600 to the current 800.

In early 1990, barbed wire collectors attending a show in Dodge City, Kansas discussed establishing a museum for barbed wire. People took the discussion seriously and by August of that same year, an old building in McLean, Texas was selected. A contract was signed and building renovation work began. The Historical Museum of Barbed Wire and Fencing Tools Organization was chartered as a tax-exempt, non-profit organization and it drew many barbed wire collectors from around the country and even the world as its members.

The Texas Route 66 Museum in the same building
as the Devil's Rope Museum in McLean, Texas
In January, 1991, the Old Route 66 Association of Texas received its tax-exempt, non-profit charter from the state and the 2 organizations soon began to work together to establish 2 museums in the same building. Members of both organizations provided all of the financing, labor, and artifact donations to set up the museums after the building had been renovated. The Devil's Rope Museum and the Texas Route 66 Museum both opened to the public on March 23, 1991. Today, the Devil's Rope Museum is known as the largest collection of barbed wire and fencing tools in the world and the Texas Route 66 Museum is billed as the first Route 66 museum actually on Old Route 66.

Inside the Devil's Rope Museum. This is
a LARGE building!
OK, so now you ask, "How was it? Should I stop there?" Well, if you are really interested in barbed wire or if you are hitting every Route 66 museum along your road trip, then yes, you definitely should stop. The building is very large and the admission is free so the price is right. While we were there, a really nice elderly lady was at the front counter - a nicer, friendlier person you could not find. We stopped to chat after touring the museums and she seemed to have a permanent smile on her face. I dropped a few bucks into the donation jar and she was very appreciative. Such a sweet lady. But hundreds of samples of barbed wire - really? There are people out there who collect all kinds of things and far be it from me to make light of anything harmless that gives somebody happiness in their life - more power to them. Let's just say that for me, strictly my opinion here, even as well as the museum of barbed wire was laid out and with the astounding amount of artifacts collected there, I mean, it was still barbed wire! Pretty exciting stuff only if compared to watching paint dry or grass grow. I kept wondering, "Why?" However, according to that sweet little old lady, almost 100,000 visitors from all over the world each year come to see this place. I gotta be missing something. If you are a barbed wire enthusiast, please let me know so I can quite thinking about this and get some sleep!
Barbed Wire Bunny
Barbed wire cowboys.

Is there anything more useless than a barbed wire
cowboy hat? I pondered this for a while and couldn't
come up with anything.


Go to the first Route 66 entry here.
Or go to the first entry of each state: