The New Braunfels Railroad Museum preserves the legacy of New Braunfels passenger rail travel

A restored Pullman Dining Car is open for tours and private events. (Eric Weilbacher/Community Impact Newspaper)
A restored Pullman Dining Car is open for tours and private events. (Eric Weilbacher/Community Impact Newspaper)

A restored Pullman Dining Car is open for tours and private events. (Eric Weilbacher/Community Impact Newspaper)

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The museum is housed in a depot that was originally built in 1907. (Photos by Eric Weilbacher/Community Impact Newspaper)
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A Missouri Pacific caboose is one of the train cars on display.
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The museum has several model trains that visitors can learn to operate.
In 1907, the International & Great Northern Railroad opened the New Braunfels depot on West San Antonio Street that has since become the New Braunfels Railroad Museum.

Passenger and freight trains have rumbled through the depot since it opened, though the rail lines have changed hands numerous times, museum employee Susan Riordon said.

“In the 1880s, the International & Great Northern Railroad first started building the lines through New Braunfels. ... The Missouri, Kansas, Texas line kind of absorbed them. ... And now it’s all owned by Union Pacific,” Riordon said. “There used to be so many different lines, and they’ve just all been merged together.”

Today, Union Pacific still operates freight trains through the city and Amtrak passenger trains traveling between San Antonio and Chicago pass through, though they no longer stop at the depot, according to the museum website.

“Passenger service was active here until the spring of 1977 when Amtrak took over, and this was one of the stops they canceled,” Riordon said. “However, [the trains] will still stop in San Antonio, San Marcos and Austin.”

In 1985, the New Braunfels Historic Railroad and Modelers Society coordinated with the city and the railroad to turn the closed depot into a nonprofit museum, Riordon said. The group was granted a long-term lease in 1986 and began renovating the building and created exhibits highlighting aspects of local railroad history.

Displays at the museum include timetables, passes, uniforms, a complete telegraphy system, model trains and other equipment used by railroad employees. The museum is also home to a 0-6-0T Porter locomotive, a Missouri Pacific caboose, a box car and a Pullman dining car, Riordon said.

“We completely renovated the dining car, which was originally a 1922 Pullman passenger car,” she said. “When we got it, it was completely rusted out with broken windows, and we just decided to renovate it into a similar dining car experience.”

Guests to the museum can step back in time by touring the cars, and the dining car, which can seat 48 people, is available for lease for private events.

Children who visit the museum can learn how to run the model trains and receive junior engineer certificates, Riordon said, and the museum hosts two train shows each year at the New Braunfels Civic and Convention Center.

The museum is open to the public at no charge, and schools, churches and nonprofit organizations are able to schedule field trips to educate students about the history of railroads in New Braunfels.

The New Braunfels Railroad Museum

302 W. San Antonio St., New Braunfels


Hours: Mon.-Fri., Sun. noon-4 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
By Eric Weilbacher

Editor, New Braunfels and San Marcos/Buda/Kyle

Eric joinedCommunity Impact Newspaper as an editor in July 2021, returning to journalism after several years in the New Braunfels business community. Prior to CI, Eric freelanced for multiple publications and was a reporter for the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung. He brings a passion for accurate, compelling story telling and human interest to his work.

By Lauren Canterberry

Reporter, New Braunfels

Lauren joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in October 2019. After graduating with a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, Lauren was a freelance journalist and worked as a college English teacher in China. At CI, Lauren covers education, local government, transportation, business, real estate development and nonprofits in New Braunfels.