Day Trips: Camp Hearne POW Museum

The small town of Hearne remembers when German Nazis came to Texas

Photos by Gerald E. McLeod

Camp Hearne, a former World War II prisoner-of-war detention center outside of Hearne, can still be found among the thorny mesquite bushes and tallgrass. Trails lead to the remaining vestiges of a small city that lasted only three years. By the end of the war there were almost 700 POW camps around the U.S. detaining 425,000 Axis prisoners. Texas, with more than 25, had more stalags than any other state.

Camp Hearne, 20 miles northwest of Bryan-College Station, was activated in 1942 and held nearly 5,000 prisoners when the population of Hearne was 3,500, says Melissa Freeman, director of the Camp Hearne Museum. Most of the prisoners at Hearne were officers of Gen. Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps captured in Tunisia. While life was far from idyllic for the prisoners, it was comfortable and the officers weren't forced to work. Instead of laboring in the cotton fields, the officers spent their time with craft projects. The museum showcases paintings, furniture, snakeskin wallets, and carvings made by the prisoners. The confined craftsmen also excelled at making decorative concrete water fountains.

Camp Hearne POW Museum, in a replica of a barracks, is on the north side of Hearne off FM 485. Trails lead to the remains of some of the buildings and fountains. The museum, while small, does an excellent job telling the story of when the Nazis came to Texas. The complex is open Wed.-Sat. from 11am-4pm. For more info, go to or call 979/314-7012.

1,325th in a series. Collect them all. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips," is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 40312, South Austin, TX 78704.

Follow "Day Trips & Beyond," a weekly travel blog, at

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Day Trips
Day Trips: Caddo Mounds State Historic Site, Alto
Day Trips: Caddo Mounds State Historic Site, Alto
Mystery mounds of the Caddo

Gerald E. McLeod, Nov. 27, 2020

Day Trips: Ellis County
Day Trips: Ellis County
Funny faces on the courthouse wall

Gerald E. McLeod, Nov. 20, 2020


Camp Hearne POW Museum, Erwin Rommel, World War II

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle