Day Trips: The Vanishing Texana Museum, Jacksonville

Train ticket leads to museum demolition


Photo by Gerald E. McLeod

The Vanishing Texana Museum collects all kinds of stories connected to Jacksonville.

There is the story of how Jacksonville became "The Tomato Capital of the World" by getting the tomatoes to market first, and then developed the wooden bushel baskets still made in town.

The backstory explains how the only Texas flag to go to the moon came to the museum.


Photo by Gerald E. McLeod

The tale of a madstone from the belly of an albino deer tells how it could cure rabies.

Among the stories is how the city almost acquired the former train depot for the museum.

Jacksonville was founded 150 years ago this year as a railroad town. In 1985 the railroad offered the depot to the city to be used as a history museum. The small building wasn't much to look at, but the brick walls were solid.

In 1985, the Highway 69 bridge over the railyard hadn't been built yet, and it wasn't unusual for trains to block the highway. One day, the chief of police felt that the engineer was taking too long to clear the tracks. With red lights flashing, he pulled alongside the stalled train and wrote the engineer a ticket for obstructing traffic.


The Jacksonville train station, circa 1974

The Union Pacific manager wasn't happy about the ticket. The next day a bulldozer arrived instead of railroad officials with papers transferring the property. The building that was to be repurposed as a community museum was demolished and the lot remains empty to this day.

The Vanishing Texana Museum ultimately moved into the town's former library at 302 S. Bolton. The museum is open Thursday through Saturday from 11am to 4pm. It's worth an hour or so to hear the stories about Jacksonville on the docent-led tours.


1,619th in a series. Everywhere is a day trip from somewhere: Follow “Day Trips & Beyond,” a travel blog, at austinchronicle.com/daily/travel.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Vanishing Texana Museum, Jacksonville, Tomato Capital of Texas, Union Pacific, trains

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