Month: August 2020

Railroad Museum Safe after Hurricane Laura

August 28, 2020

This last week was full of excitement for the Railroad Museum! On Thursday, August 20th, predictions for Hurricane Laura began to forecast landfall around the Houston, TX area. Morris Gould and Perry Hatch worked that afternoon to move rolling stock in the yard and get train cars ready to be evacuated off the island.

As the projected path of Hurricane Laura wobbled in the Gulf of Mexico, the museum adopted a “wait and see” attitude, waiting for a final prediction. Then on Tuesday, August 25th, at 6 am the City of Galveston issued a mandatory evacuation. Staff members David Robertson, Jennifer Kelso, Sam Christensen, Ramon Coles, and Deborah Shephard proceeded to pack up the museum. Files were evacuated, artifacts were moved up to above the anticipated water lines, and outdoor fixtures were moved inside.

BNSF arrived on mid-day Tuesday, to take the evacuation train off the island. The museum evacuated the iconic Warbonnets, Alonzo Harter & George Gould chair cars, the City of Galveston dining cars, the Donald Harper sleeper car, and the museum’s newest acquisition the Bonnie Brook a combination observation-sleeper car.

(pictured: L-R Morris Gould, Eric Jones, Jon Dee, David Lorenz, Del Johnson, not pictured: Martin Alcala)

Hurricane Laura strengthened to a Category 4 before its eventual landfall in Cameron, LA in the early morning hours of August 27th. Fortunately, Galveston and the Railroad Museum were spared a direct hit, and there was not any notable damage. Once the water receded, museum staff Jim Boone, Jennifer Kelso, Sam Christensen, Lanette Pacheco, and David Robertson were on the property to set the museum to rights.

(Sam Christensen reinstalling Patrick Henry’s historic train route signs)
(Ramon Coles cleaning leaves after Hurricane Laura’s winds)

The Railroad Museum will reopen to the public on Friday, August 28th at 10 am, and the Harborside Express will return this Saturday, August 29th. The staff is excited to once again welcome visitors!

Welcome Aboard, David!

August 11, 2020

On Monday, August 10th, the Galveston Railroad Museum welcomed David Robertson as the Executive Director.  David has a deep understanding of special events and the hospitality industry. Some of David’s previous experiences include the Tremont House, the Galveston Artillery Club, and owner of Prohibition Red’s.

“David Robertson comes to the museum with vast knowledge in focusing on the experience of the patron. He is well connected with the Galveston community and knows how to team build. The Board of Directors enthusiastically welcomes him on-board!” said Dr. John Bertini, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Galveston Railroad Museum.

David is a long time resident of Galveston, having moved to the island in 1996. He has visited the museum numerous times over the years, and is excited about the opportunities that the museum presents. “I am thrilled to be a part of the museum, and I look forward to an exciting future.”

Historical Marker Gets a Facelift

August 4, 2020

On May 22, 2020, Donna Hatch and Lynne Langdale, with the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) – George Washington Chapter visited the museum and restored the Historical Marker located outside the West Ticket Office.

The Historical Marker commemorates the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway Company that was headquartered in the present-day Shearn Moody Plaza. The marker was installed in 1993 and had over the years faded in the humid Texas Gulf heat.

First, a sander was used to remove dirt and flaking paint, followed by a soft brush. Tape was applied to mask off the edge of the marker. Next came two coats of black lacquer spray paint over all of the marker’s front surface, allowing time for the paint to dry between each coat. Once the second coat was dry, the paint was gently sanded off the raised letters on the marker.

After carefully brushing away the paint which had been sanded from the raised letters, two coats of clear lacquer were sprayed on the surface, again allowing for drying between coats.

As you can see from the before and after pictures, the difference is astonishing. Thank you very much Lynne & Donna!

The full text of the historical marker is as follows:

“In 1874 Galveston County voters narrowly approved $500,000 in bonds to finance construction of a railroad line from the City of Galveston that would bypass Houston, its business rival, and reach across Texas and beyond to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Henry Rosenberg, president of the Gulf, Colorado, & Santa Fe Railway Company (GCSF) broke ground at the 37th and Mechanic Street on May 1, 1875. In 1879 the company completed a 50-mile line west to Richmond that included a 2¼ mile wooden bridge spanning the length of Galveston Bay.

Prominent Galveston Businessman George Sealy bought the GCSF Company at public auction on April 15, 1879. Sealy led efforts to construct a vital spur line to Houston, acquire east Texas rail interest to supply rail ties, install telegraph lines, and establish numerous towns along the main rail line including Rosenberg, Sealy, Temple, Killeen, Goldwaithe, and Ballinger.

GCSF joined the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway (ATSF) in 1886 and by 1900 had added the popular Harvey House Hotels and Restaurants to its line. By introducing innovative radio communications in 1944 GCSF greatly expanded Galveston National Rail Connections. Although GCSF was officially bought out by ATSF in 1965 various rail companies continued to use its former lines.”

Newsletter Archives now on Museum’s Website

Thirty of the museum’s newsletters were can now be read online here. Sam Christensen, Museum Curator, worked diligently to find old copies of the newsletter and meticulously scan them in. Board Member, Dr. Donald E. Harper, uploaded his digital copies of the newsletters as well. Don has been producing the newsletter since 2002.

We hope you enjoy the trip down memory lane as much as we did!