I went to Texas in May 2008 and while there, went to visit the location of the infamous WACO tragedy. When I first arrived in Waco after visiting some friends in Austin, I asked some locals where the compound was. A few people pointed me in the general direction, but no one had been there or knew exact directions. One guy remarked that "it's sad that is what Waco is known for".
A Visit To Waco, TX- Fifteen Years later
So I stopped by the local 'Texas Ranger Museum' and went into the visitor center. They had hundreds of brochures on tourist spots displayed, but no mention of the Waco slaughter. I asked the lady behind the desk how to get to the Dr. Pepper Museum and then asked her if she knew how to get to the Waco compound. Surprisingly, she went to retrieve a map of directions to Mount Carmel which they kept behind the counter, and gave it to me. Here is a picture of the map she gave me, (courtesy of Texas tourism):
Get map here:
Tourist Info center next to TEXAS RANGER MUSEUM
"MILITARY TRAINING MADE WACO FAMOUS" appears on state plaque
DIRECTIONS TO MOUNT CARMEL, BRANCH DAVIDIAN COMPOUND IN WACO TEXAS
TEXT: (Note, we did not see any 'Holiday Inn').
DIRECTIONS TO MOUNT CARMEL:
FROM THE WACO TOURIST INFORMATION CENTER, TAKE 135 NORTH JUST ACROSS THE RIVER TO ML KING BLVD. TURN LEFT ONTO ORCHARD LANE (ACROSS FROM THE HOLIDAY INN).
TAKE ORCHARD LANE TO LOOP 340. TAKE A RIGHT ONTO LOOP 340. GO A SHORT DISTANCE ON LOOP 340, THEN TAKE A LEFT ONTO FM 2491.
YOU WILL COME TO A SPLIT IN THE ROAD, BUT WILL NEED TO STAY ON 2491. ABOUT 5 MILES FROM LOOOP 340 YOU WILL SEE LARGE CORRUGATED TIN GATES ON THE LEFT. TURN LEFT ON THE DOUBLE EE RANCH ROAD, WHICH COMES DIRECTLY AFTER THE GATES. MOUNT CARMEL IS A SHORT DISTANCE ON THE RIGHT.
We then drove to the compound. It struck me as a beautiful and serene area of Texas.
CORNER HEADING TO COMPOUND. The property is straight ahead down this road, DOUBLE EE RANCH ROAD, on the right side.
This is the corner of the street which leads to the compound.
VIEW FROM STREET TO COMPOUND. We arrive at the property.
The house to the right is either the caretakers house or the preachers house. The church in the background behind the tree is the memorial church built after the tragedy. The house that was burned was behind and to the left of where the church is. In the foreground is the stone memorials to the victims.
Texas Dept of Transportation KEEP OFF
FRONT OF PROPERTY TO RIGHT.
LOOKING OUT OF PROPERTY TO STREET
Me front of Waco memorial. I have some video of this and the reason for my sign, which I will post later also. I view this Waco atrocity as linked with 9/11 in the sense that it's another in the long history of government terrorism and abuses of the American people.
Memorial to the victims
While we were there a local woman drove onto the property with some friends. turns out she was a long time resident and college professor who taught at Baylor college. She said that the stones (pictured below) with the victims names were originally set out in the field towards the memorial church, with a tree being planted for each victim, but were later moved to the front and placed onto each other to form a sort of memorial wall. She said the new leader of the church and self proclaimed 'prophet' is a guy by the name of Charles Pace, and that there has been a lot of division and turmoil among the sect in recent years. She was sympathetic to the victims and disagreed strongly with what the government did. The woman relayed the chilling story of the day of the fire, April 19, 1993; she was teaching at Baylor and saw the fire live on TV in the teachers lounge, and at the same time they saw the fire out their window which was 5 miles away from the compound. She rubbed her arms as she said she still gets chills when she talks about it, the goose bumps visible on her arms as she told the story.
I asked her what the local reaction was at the time; she said it was mixed. some were outraged, others thought the 'cult' 'brought it on themselves' and some kept their opinion to themselves, unlike herself, who she reiterated, was not hesitant to express her disagreement with the government action. I asked her what the current church leadership's position was on visitors to the property and she said they seem to be very open to visitors and she assumed that any visitors to the compound must be viewed as sympathetic by the property owners.
Suggested documentaries on WACO: WACO: THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
Also: Waco: the Big Lie and America: WAKE UP or WACO!
Memorial blocks with all victims names, right side
memorial blocks, left side
As we walked up the hill from the front of the property and approached the church, all of the sudden a big black lab started running towards me, chasing me. I ran back towards the car but later ventured back towards the church to take a look at it.
Me at Waco church.
Here is a portable bathroom that sits next to the church. Notice the little dog standing to the left of the bathroom. The photo on the right is the small pond across from the church.
Church plaque and photo of signs on church door
MEMORIALS TO ATF AGENTS KILLED AND OKC BOMBING VICTIMS 2 YEARS LATER
'DONT TREAD ON ME' FLAG FLYING IN FRONT OF CHURCH
After leaving Mount Carmel we stopped by the Dr. Pepper Museum and then went by the masonic lodge. Below is an example of some Dr. Pepper memorabilia showcased in the museum. Entrance is $6 per person for adults. I've drank Dr. Pepper since I was a kid, but I do not recommend visiting the museum; I found it boring and a waste of money. You can, however go inside and enter the gift shop and the snack bar where you can buy a glass of the original formula Dr. Pepper, made with pure cane sugar. You can also buy bottles, or a six pack of cans of the original formula dr Pepper for less than 5 bucks.
I try the original forumla of Dr. Pepper after a hot day in Waco. Delicious.
Archived photo of worker inspecting the Dr Pepper bottles