In early 1993, Waco received unwelcome international media attention when the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms tried to execute a search warrant at the Branch Davidian ranch at Mount Carmel, about 12 miles northeast of Waco. Gunfire was exchanged, tanks moved in, and the entire complex was eventually burned to the ground.
Dozens of people, including Branch Davidian leader David Koresh, died in the incident. Little is left, but what’s still there remains a destination for curiosity-seekers. Throughout the late ’90s and early ’00s, representatives of the Branch Davidians, a radical offshoot of the Seventh-Day Adventist theology that have been in Waco since 1935, remained at the site, answering visitors’ questions and showing them around.
However, in recent years, the property has been taken over by a new group, which doesn’t take as kindly to strangers and tends to keep the gates closed to outsiders.
Those still interested in snooping around can get a detailed map to the out-of-the-way compound from the Waco Visitors Center. Or you can head there on your own: Take I-35 North to Loop 340 and turn right (east). Continue four miles and take a left onto FM 2491; follow 2491 six miles to Double EE Ranch Road; turn left and you’ll see the site about 200 yards up on the right side of the road.
© Andy Rhodes from Moon Texas, 6th Edition