New Year, New Fun
January 9, 2021
January Letter from the Director
October Letter from the Director
October 10, 2020
Thank you to all of our loyal Polar Express™ fans!
September 15, 2020
The museum staff tried many different options and configurations, but unfortunately, this year, we find we cannot safely produce the Polar Express™ Train Ride under the current conditions.
“After our debut year, and the blowout success of the Polar Express in Galveston in 2019, we were really looking forward to Polar Express 2020,” said Jennifer Kelso, Marketing Director for the museum. “We began alternative planning back in April at the beginning of the coronavirus, working with other Polar Express venues around the United States. Every conceivable option was discussed. But the safety of our guests comes first, and in this environment, it was impossible to host a Polar Express Train Ride and keep our members, guests & employees safe.”
We are currently hard at work planning a safe, socially distanced, holiday-themed event at the museum.
“Here at the museum, we love Christmas. Seeing the 1932 Depot and the museum’s railyard decked out in holiday decorations is a sight to behold. Our staff and volunteers truly enjoy getting to spread the holiday cheer,” said David Robertson, Executive Director. “While this year’s event may be smaller in the number of guests allowed in the museum at one time, the event is going to be highly interactive and lots of fun.”
Be sure to follow the museum on Facebook to get our regular updates!
A Letter from the Executive Director
September 11, 2020
The Railroad Museum Needs You!
September 4, 2020
On Saturday, September 12th, at 10:00 am the Railroad Museum will be conducting docent training. The museum is expanding and hoping to provide guided tours to groups visiting the museum.
Docents are volunteer teachers who provide group learning experiences in the form of museum tours or demonstrations for special groups of visitors. They often get to interact with school children who are visiting the museum, helping the next generation discover how amazing railroads and trains can be.
Shawn Morrison (pictured here), currently leads guided tours through the museum at 1:00 pm every Saturday.
“We’re looking forward to being able to enhance the visitor’s experience. The docent program is designed to help railfans become involved in the museum, and we look forward to working with the new docents,” said Sam Christensen, the museum’s Curator.
The class will involve about 20 minutes of instruction in the museum, and end with in-depth walking tour through the museum. It is not expected to last more than an hour and a half, and should be loads of fun for railfans of all ages.
To reserve a spot, please email email@example.com.
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.
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.
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!
Shawn Morrison Begins Guided Tours at the Museum This Weekend
July 28, 2020
On Saturday, August 1st, Ms. Shawn Morrison will begin leading guided tours at the Museum as a docent. Morrison is a longtime railfan and current AP Human Geography Teacher at Ball High School in Galveston. There will be a special before hours tour for Railroad Museum members only at 9:00 am, and a public tour for visitors at 1:00 pm. The public tour will be available every Saturday, and the before hours tour will be on the first Saturday of the month.
The Museum is excited to have Ms. Morrison aboard. Shawn has a Bachelor’s of History and Literature, and a Master’s of History, both from the University of Houston – Clear Lake. While she is an avid student of history, Morrison wants to use the tours as a vehicle to discuss the present and future of American Railroading. Expect to hear a healthy mix of museum history, discussions on high-speed rail, and her own experiences riding the rails (ask about her childhood run-in with the Stasi on a train in East Germany).
Want to pitch in? Morrison will hold a training session for docents on August 29th at 9:00 am in the Museum’s Map Room. Call the Museum at (409) 765-5700 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot. Training is free, but space is limited!