On a recent trip to Fordyce, I had the chance to tour the Dallas County Historical Museum with James & Agnes Phillips, owners of the Wynne Phillips House B&B and instrumental forces in the creation of the museum. I’ve always been a believer that understanding the history of a place adds to one’s perspective and appreciation of that place. With the Phillips’ as my guide, the town soon came into focus via stories they shared and an in depth tour they gave of the exhibits hosted in the museum.
The museum, based in a historic 1907 building, is a work in progress and people are welcome to come in and drop off artifacts for certain exhibits if they think they might fit. As Agnes (who has a weekly column in the local paper that keeps readers up to date on the museum) pointed out, the museum has happened one piece at a time but slowly it has come together. The museum shares the story of the county and there are some interesting artifacts hosted inside such as the surveying equipment used to build the Cotton Belt Railroad line (the arrival of this line through Dallas County had a huge effect on the economy of the area. New people and new money arrived on every train and the rich natural resources of the county were accessible to new markets) a collection of Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant (who has the most wins of a coach in college football history) memorabilia, and the #3 Stromberg-Carlson Dial Switchboard, which handled the first person to person direct dialed call in the U.S.
The Phillips’ said there are plans to expand to another building across the street for a military museum addition once grant funding comes in. If you find yourself in Fordyce, the museum is located at 221 South Main Street, a few blocks from Klappenbach bakery. Admission is free and operating hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and Saturday, 11 -3. Special group tours can also be arranged by calling the museum at 870-352-7202.