UPDATE: Due to public safety concerns amid an uptick in COVID-19 and flu cases in Johnson County, the Grand Opening of the Cleburne Railroad Museum has been rescheduled for Friday, February 11. Further details about the opening activities will be released in the coming weeks.
Original story: The Cleburne Railroad Museum is on track to open on Jan. 13, 2022.
The public is invited all aboard to join us for the celebratory grand opening from noon to 8 p.m. on Jan. 13 at 206 N. Main in historic downtown. Mayor Scott Cain and other community leaders will signal the official opening by starting the model train engines in the model train room at 12:30 p.m.
“You can trace Cleburne’s growth along the railroad tracks that cross the city,” Mayor Cain said. “This museum provides us an express ticket to our history and this expansion provides enough space to truly celebrate those roots.”
The expanded museum is three times the size of the original, temporary facility. Traditional and interactive exhibits will tell the story of the railroads that were vital to and the Cleburne Santa Fe Shops and Cleburne’s history.
Activities throughout the museum will provide fun for the whole family. Visitors can travel to a magical world as they watch as multiple model trains run throughout the C&JC Railroad, our HO scale model train room. The Studio, a multi-purpose event space, will host a busy schedule of programs. In addition to being able to get up close to 400 historic objects and memorabilia, visitors can also take a virtual tour that provides information about the exhibits and visits to historic railroad locations throughout town, such as Engine #3417, also known locally as “The Spirit of Cleburne.”
To help celebrate the grand reopening, museum staff has three days full of family-friendly activities and crafts on Jan. 13-15, including a coloring contest and an opportunity to purchase and decorate a boxcar and watch it travel the museum’s model train layout. Special grand reopening hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Jan. 14-15.
More programs are planned throughout the year including an eventful January with Transportation History: Planes on Jan. 21, and LEGOmotion on Jan. 28
The Railroad Museum will be open regularly Tuesdays-Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting Jan. 17. The museum plans to have regular programs and events and more information can be found online at www.cleburnerrmuseum.net.
Group tours for groups of 8 or more are free of charge but must be scheduled at least two weeks in advance at 817-645-0940 or [email protected]. For more information about the museum and events, please visit www.cleburnerrmuseum.net.
RPGA Design Group, Inc. and lead architect Brett Oaks designed the expansion. Fast General Contractors, LLC was the project contractor, and Tarrant Construction Services created custom exhibit cases for the museum.
Visitors shouldn't miss the Layland Museum of History on the same downtown block, housed in a former Carnegie Library building dating to 1905. Just steps away, the Courthouse Square centers a compact and highly walkable downtown. A National Historic District, downtown has experienced a resurgence in recent years and offers multiple shops, restaurants, and entertainment options – be sure to pick up a Historic Downtown Cleburne map while at the museum. More information is available at www.visitcleburne.com.
On Oct. 21, 1881, the first train pulled into Cleburne to be greeted by 1,000 cheering spectators, one-quarter of the town's population. Those bystanders could not have imagined the impact that railroads would have on the city of Cleburne over the next century. In 1897, Santa Fe announced that Cleburne would house the principal machine shops designating Cleburne as the repair and maintenance headquarters along 1,400 miles of rail from Galveston to Chicago. This cemented the Santa Fe Railroad's century-long position as the town's largest employer. While the Cleburne Santa Fe Shops closed on Sept. 29, 1989, the citizens of Cleburne continue to recognize the immense role of the railroads in the city's prosperity and growth.