THE HOME OF OUR 36TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES….LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON…..
The next morning after we had visited Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Boy Hood Home, we got up early. We were going to head 14 miles west of Johnson City to the LBJ State Park, the home of the LBJ Ranch also known as the Western White house while President Lyndon Johnson was in office, from 1963-1969.
When we checked in the day before, the manager said we could see it in plenty of time in the morning and she would let us check out at 1pm instead of 12. So we were up early so we could be their by 9 am. We arrived and went to the Visitors Center and obtained a free park pass. You can buy a CD Guided Tour tape, but we didn’t purchase it. They had many very nice souvenirs of course. So we headed to the Ranch. We found out the Ranch House guided tours were on the hour. Tickets are sold at the Airplane Hanger.
We proceeded along the road. We followed the road on the south side of the Pedernales River all the way to the edge of the property on the east side. We crossed the little bridge on the river and made a left and entered the LBJ Ranch.
We wanted to be at the hanger before 10 so we passed the School House, his Birthplace Home, the family Cemetery where LBJ and Lady Bird are buried and other family homes knowing we could see them on the way out. We followed the Pedernales River now heading back west towards the Ranch that sat on the shore facing the beautiful river.
The trees on the drive were so beautiful. Big old oak trees. Along the way we also passed many cattle. They were roaming free. The homes had fences around them so the cows wouldn’t go up to the houses. lol.
The LBJ Ranch is still a working ranch and these are descendents of his original herd. This little baby just stood their and looked at us.
Now this one found a way to itch his back. He was moving back and forth rubbing on the tree branches with his eyes closed. He must have been in heaven. lol. We made it almost to the house and the gate was closed. We had to make a right turn and headed north. Now what we didn’t realize was, that their was a airstrip on the ranch. President Johnson would fly in on a jet. So we had to go north around the far end of the runway to come back to the house. It was full of pasture land, all fenced and kept in perfect shape. after we looped around the end, we came upon the Cattle Show Barn.
Their were several very nice buildings and many pens to separate the cattle. We could have stopped but we had to keep going to make the 10 am House tour. We followed beside the runway all the way to the ranch. And their it was. …..Amazing….. in front of us was the “Air Force One and a Half”, as President Johnson called it.
This is a Lockheed JetStar VC-140. It had a crew of 3, 2 pilots and 1 stewardess. Its maximum speed as 605 mph, Cruising Speed, 520 mph, Range, 2,200 miles, with a service ceiling of 45,000 ft. In 1953 Lyndon Johnson constructed a 3,000 ft. grass landing strip as he was spending a lot of time working in Washington. By the time he became president a series of improvements had resulted in a 6,300 asphalt air strip. But when he became president the airstrip wouldn’t support the weight of the Boeing 707, the “Air Force One”. He would fly into San Antonio or Austin and use this plane to fly to the Ranch. It made it much easier for him to take his work home.
It looks so small inside but he really liked this plane. This plane holds so many memories of so many dignitaries of the world.
President Johnson looking out the window with his dog on one of his trips.
We parked in the taxi way as it approached the hanger. The original hanger is now the Museum/ticket office and the starting place for the tour. This building held so many items of history.
This is a favorite photo. This was a large canvas of President and Lady Bird Johnson in the Museum. They also had many recorded phone calls that you could listen to during his administration. It was so interesting to listen to his speech, his choice of words, and Texan accent. We purchased our tickets and our tour started. Our Guide was a lady very well versed in the history of the Johnson Family. She told the story with warmth and knowledge. She took us out the back door and up the side of the house. Through a gate and their we were.
We were at the side of the Ranch House or Western White House. This house has been built on many times during the years. It was originally owned by his Aunt and Uncle. He lived down the lane and later in town, but would come out and spend time on the ranch learning and working the ranch. In 1951, his Aunt and Uncle extended an offer to him to buy the ranch. Of Course he did. He Loved this Ranch. He had such wonderful memories as a child here and of the Perdenales River as it ran past the front of the ranch. He spent many hours playing in the river. Memories of his childhood were so near and dear to his heart.
Our guide told us during his presidency, Johnson would hold many staff and other meetings here. In nice weather they would sit in the grove of Oak trees down by the River. After their work was done for the day, he would hold his famous barbeques. If it was very large it would all be catered in and they would eat under the Oaks by the river. Many famous politicians from the US and abroad would attend. Most all of them arriving in his plane or by helicopter. He spent 20 percent of his presidency here. So as we went to the house, our guide told us we could not take pictures of the inside. After Lady Bird died, the house was restored to the era of when he was president. Lyndon Johnson died of a heart attack at age 64 on January 22, 1973. Now Lady Bird didn’t pass until Jul 11, 2007 (age 94). She live here as well as in Austin, and spent much of her time with her daughters. She had saved all the furnishings and historical items so that the history could be preserved. The house was then restored by the National Park Service and opened for the Public. The first room that we went in was the West addition that was were the Presidents Western White House office was. The inside pictures I will display were taken from the internet.
In this room was 4 desks. This was President Lyndon Baines Johnsons official desk. Across from him was the desk of his Ranch Manager. Their was also 2 other desks in their that were from his Washington crew. One I believe was for his Press Secretary Pierre Salinger. On the wall facing him was 3 tvs that were always tuned to the 3 major networks. Now our guide said, “Just Imagine. All 3 tvs going, 72 phone lines that came into the house ringing, and cigar smoke filtering through the air. lol.” Yes, never a dull moment in that house.
Here is his recliner that has the Presidential Seal on the headrest. His pillow reads “This is my ranch and I do as I dam please”……We went outside, the next part of the house we could not go in. It was the original part that his Aunt and Uncle lived in. We then walked around the front passing some huge Oaks and past the front of the house that was seen so many times during his presidency.
I remember pictures of upstairs porch with that criss cross railing. Here is President Johnson, Lady Bird and the 2 girls, Luci Baines and Lynda Bird.
On the east side of the house, 2 bedrooms had been added on. Presidents in the front and Lady Bird’s on the back side. Also a Pool was added. President Johnson could now just go out his bedroom door to the pool. The pool is still being perfectly maintained today.
We passed this piece of concrete that was on the approach to the front door. It as added when LBJ bought the ranch in Aug 1952. We then entered the side door and went down a long hallway passing all the room till we entered the living room. Now all these inside pictures I have again taken from the internet.
The Living Room had one of the stairways going upstairs. We unfortunately couldn’t go up. Lady Bird Johnson called this room “Grand Central Station”, as their were doors in all the walls leading to different parts of the house. It was always hustle and bustle.
We were then taken into the kitchen. It had an Industrial frig as well as industrial stove. Many large meals were cooked here. The guide said, that after Lyndon died, his girls remodeled the kitchen for their mother. The yellow counter that you can see in the corner was replaced with modern counter. After she died it was all restored to original yellow. We never seen the Dinning Room, but we heard it was under construction. We went back down the hall way seeing all the rooms we had passed on the way in. We seen closets full of their clothes, bathrooms, and a sitting room. The Sitting Room was once the Master Bedroom, but Lady Bird got tired of waking up in the middle of the night and finding by the Presidents side several members of his staff talking with the President. So Therefore, that is why the 2 bedrooms were added on. Lady Birds was very large. She had a fireplace with a seating area, large windows to look outside at her flowers and a full wall enclosed curio cabinet for her special keepsakes. A beautiful room of comfortable peace and serenity.
Across the hall was the Presidents room. He had a regular hospital light above the headboard. Of course his 3 tvs were installed, and you can see his table for his Chiropractor treatments. The guide said his Chiropractor was still living in Johnson City and she was always picking his brain for stories. Every nite he would get an hour treatment. He was suppose to be relaxing but he was always on the phone or talking with someone in the room. After he left the presidency, they returned to the ranch to return to a normal life style if possible. Lyndon Baines Johnson died at his ranch at 4:39 p.m. on January 22, 1973 at age 64, from a third myocardial infarction (heart attack).
Johnson was napping in his ranch bedroom when he suffered his last massive coronary, called his beloved Secret Service agent Mike Howard and fell to the floor, almost instantly dead. It was exactly two days after the presidential term he would have served, had he run again in 1968, and almost the same moment that his successor, Richard Nixon, declared a peace in Vietnam that had eluded LBJ and would not last.
After Johnson’s first heart attack in 1955, doctors had told him that if he ever started smoking again, he would kill himself. But almost as soon as he left the presidency, he resumed fierce chain smoking, overeating, and, sometimes, overdrinking. Some of his aides privately muttered that the boss was committing slow motion suicide. But when one of his horrified daughters begged him to stop the cigarettes, Johnson shook his head and exclaimed, “No, I’ve raised you girls, I’ve been president, and now it’s my time!” I also read that he was laying in bed and called his Agents that he was having massive chest pains. The Agents found him in bed still with the phone in his hand. But whether he was in bed or on the floor, he passed in his bedroom at his Beloved Ranch that he loved so much. He had a life time of memories. He was born on this land, his spent his childhood learning ranching, playing in the beautiful Perdenales River, later purchasing the property and making and developing it as his own. He married Lady Bird and raised 2 daughters here. Then becoming the 36th President of the United States and making this the Western White House. So many important decisions were made during his presidency in this house and out under the Oak trees down by the river……..So Much to be Proud of……
Their is so much more that will be in Part 2. Secret Service Command Post, Communications Center, Their car collection, Birthplace home, School house and above all The Family Cemetery. We left the house and seen so much more. This has been such an inspiring tour so far, learning so much about our president that I never knew. We take so much for granted as a child. We need to appreciate what we have as an adult and learn about our Beautiful Country we have and the Men who Have Made it Great.
……Stay Tuned for Part 2…..
But this is my Most Favorite Picture of the Day…..Rich on “Air force One” and a Half…..