The Railway Museum is Springing Back to Life
SAN ANGELO, TX—The Railway and Heritage Museum at 703 S. Chadbourne St. may be back on track to continue operations in the historic Santa Fe Museum. There is much activity during the holiday season where families can enjoy learning about the railroad history that shaped the Concho Valley and surrounding areas.
A high point of interest for San Angeloans in the last year were the tribulations within the organization and the risk of the non-proft losing its lease of the historic depot building. The Railway and Historic Museum has been a fixture there for over 20 years. We began reporting on the leadership issues facing the group in September as it was uncovered in City Council meetings. As the debacle turned nuclear, allegations of sexual harassment brought relations between city officials and the organization to a screeching halt. The future of the organization looked gloomy, and the city of San Angelo denied renewing a long-term lease to The Railway and Heritage Museum non-profit group. There were rumors the City was considering leasing the old depot to a commercial business, like Texas Pacifico, and shuttering the museum.
Several of the board members at the time decided to depart the organization, but since, the board has been transformed with the aid of Mayor Brenda Gunter who asked 30-year veteran of railroad operations around the country, Rodger Horton, to join the board. The short-lived term of Shannon Carpenter as Executive Director ended shortly after Sterling City Mayor Lane Horwood became the president of the board. Because of the importance of the building, the organization and its relationship as part of the San Angelo Cultural District's future, the City of San Angelo offered the organization a lease for just six months so the new leadership can rebuild its foundation to shepherd a healthy future for the Heritage and Railway Museum and retain its oversight of the historic depot owned by the City's taxpayers.
Today, Dec. 1, volunteers greeted a large group of happy parents and students from Wall ISD to tour the facility. The students learned about the importance of the railroad to this area in the establishment of San Angelo and surrounding rural towns. Carlos, also a 30-year veteran of working for railroad companies, greeted the young students and began sharing the the oral history of the area railroad industry to their delight.
The organization is hosting its annual Christmas celebrations with the arrival of Santa by train. This celebration is open to the public and includes activities such as photos with Santa, story time, Christmas music and crafts. Anyone can go between now and Dec. 30 on Friday evenings between 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. - 9 p.m., and Sundays 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Tickets are 12 years-old and up $5.00, 4-11 years-old $3.00, and under 4 free.
For information on bringing your school group through, birthdays, seasonal events and membership call 325-277-3287 or visit their Facebook page.