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City of Cleburne News

Posted on: February 24, 2023

Cleburne Railroad Museum Celebrates One-Year Anniversary

Cleburne Railroad Museum

To thank the community for a great first year, the Cleburne Railroad Museum held a week-long celebration to commemorate its anniversary.

The Cleburne Railroad Museum opened on Feb. 11, 2022 and traces over a century of local railroad history. Cleburne was the location of the biggest Santa Fe shops west of the Mississippi, where workers repaired and manufactured locomotives and other rail cars. While the Shops closed in 1989, the story of the Railroad is an integral part of the history of Cleburne.

“The Shops are a big part of local history,” said James Hefner, museum assistant. “I have lived here for close to 10 years now, and I didn’t know all of the history of this place until I started working here. I would encourage more people to learn more about it.”

In addition to being able to get up close to 400 historic objects and memorabilia, activities throughout the museum provide fun for the whole family.

For the special anniversary celebration, held Feb. 21 through Feb. 25, visitors enjoyed toy trains, crafts and store specials. At 3 p.m. on those days, everyone who came to the museum could take part in popcorn, punch and door prizes.

“It’s such a great time. A year is a milestone, and it’s an opportunity to look back, but an even bigger opportunity to look forward at what we have coming,” Hefner explained.

The anniversary celebration was especially important for people like Robert McAlister. He’s a devoted volunteer at the Cleburne Railroad Museum who used to work for the Shops from 1978 to 1987.

“It has special meaning to me because a lot of the things that you see around here, I’ve seen before,” said McAlister. “I’m here to honor the other folks that I worked with—the ones who can’t be with us—and keep their history and their legacy alive.’

McAlister, also known as Conductor Bob, can be seen at the museum every Wednesday. Even if visitors miss the anniversary celebration, there are fun attractions to see year-round.

Hefner said that there’s something for people of all ages to appreciate at the museum. The facility is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free to enter the museum.

“I always joke that all you need is a smile to get in,” Hefner added with a chuckle.

More information about the Cleburne Railroad Museum is available here.

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