Monday, December 19, 2022

Henderson Depot

 I've noticed that the posts I write about museum visits tend to be the least read, and that's saying a lot when only a handful of my 750 posts have managed to claw their way up into the lower 2-digit page-hit level. (My last museum post just barely made it halfway up the 1-digit ladder!) But then again, it's my blog so I'm going to do another museum post so you'll have to turn it off, tune it out, or just plain ignore it.

And I will try to keep it short. (But we'll have to see how that goes!)

As I was heading home after a week of making myself dizzy hiking the same 5 miles of trail in Martin Creek State Park I passed through Henderson Texas, and prominently displayed on my map was the Henderson Depot Museum. A click on the map-bubble for the museum showed that it had opened not quite 30 minutes ago. (Ain't technology great?!)

Being a sucker for all things railroad - and trying to be a little less isolationist - I decided to swing by and see what the parking lot looked like, congestion-wise.

Turns out it was just my kinda parking lot. Mostly, but not completely, empty.

Just enough vehicles that I won't be the only one in there and on display, being judged the whole time by the staff, (one of the curses of introvertism) but not so many that I'd be mingling too closely with the other patrons. (OK, we can blame a little bit of that on introvertism but these are is still COVID times! No matter how many of us are trying to ignore the facts.)

So I decided to check it out and tied down my train - OK Yeah, I don't really have a train (I wish!) so in reality I parked The Van.

Speaking of trains,

with the exception of its name, the depot, which I'll get to in a moment, and this single caboose, which was locked up and inaccessible, both doors (I tried) there wasn't much railroad to this museum. 

Disappointing to a train-geek, but not a disaster to a history-nerd.

Like many of these community style museums funding and exhibits are mostly through local donations and volunteer labor. Yes, that can make things a little quirky but I've visited several of these types of museums that have turned out to be be really interesting. And since they tend to focus on local stuff, I have often learned things I'm not likely to come across otherwise. 

For instance, where else would I learn that the handful of houses located just outside the entrance to the State Park I had been staying at are sitting on the site of Harmony Hill?

Quite a little town in the mid 1800's that, in addition to nearly a dozen shops and a furniture factory, included a Masonic Hall, a race-track (horse) and a number of thriving taverns. (apparently even the Mercantile did a booming "adult beverage" business out the back door on race days!)

An assortment of butter-making equipment

At $3 a pop, $2 for seniors, this museum certainly isn't supplementing its funding at the door. In fact, when I pulled out the single $20 bill I carry folded up between my credit cards, where it will stay for months, even years, since I pretty much always use cards for everything, the woman at the front just waved me on through saying it wasn't worth dealing with the change. (I offered my card but she didn't want to mess with that either. - I know. I know. I've got so much charm and good-looks I'm dangerous! - See! I told you I'm dangerous! At least one of you just laughed so hard you nearly choked!)

The museum is called The Depot because that's what they started with, but now they've expanded and most of the inside displays are housed in a new building while the depot itself is used mostly as a community gathering space and class room.(They actually have another classroom in the new building too which tends to suggest a lot of school field trips.)

The new building houses an eclectic array of exhibits

that tell and illustrate the local history

as well as the lifestyle


of anywhere from a couple centuries to a couple of decades ago.

And yes, when I saw this dress, which was apparently worn by one of the early 20th century school teachers, I had to look behind it to see if they had pinned up the fabric back there.


Like this outfit displayed elsewhere in the museum, what you see is what you get.

Those were some svelte women!

But as this 1930 photo shows, not everybody was skinny back then! - Just more of us than today - - -

Outside the main building some displays, such as an open-air, steam-powered saw-mill and this carousel, are fenced off waiting on the slow process of volunteer-driven restoration.

 Others, like this typical 5-room dogtrot home, are open and ready for self-guided exploration.

I'm not sure what it says about me, but when I walked into its 1900's kitchen I was struck by how comfortable I felt in there and that got me to looking around and thinking, and I decided I could manage very well, and happily, in a space like this.

No soft-close drawers, automatic ovens, exotic counter-tops and back-splashes. All the things that, based on the house hunting and renovation shows of today, we just can't live without!

There's also a complete cotton gin sitting on the museum grounds and this is the two- cylinder Anderson oil engine that ran everything in the gin through a series of leather belts.

You can get a sense of the scale of this thing from the cut-down milk jug and the pails.

Those two tubes on the top are the cylinders,

each of which produces 55 hp!

Elsewhere on the grounds are an assortment of 'town' buildings such as the doctor's office, a general store, and a printer's, along with a covered area full of old farming tools and implements, but in a (clearly failed) attempt to keep this post short I'm going to skip all that.

Except for this.

This is the remnants of a small broom-making shop opened in 1933 by Jesse Rogers, 20 years old at the time, after completing a course at the Austin school for the blind.

Here he supported himself, and eventually his family, making brooms, whisk brooms, and mops by touch day after day right up until he died in the mid 1980's

Anyway, I think there's a lot of value to be found in these little community style museums and though posts about them don't seem to generate much interest, whenever I can force myself into one of them I expect I'll continue to spit into the wind - I mean post about it.


  1. Where'd you get the idea your posts are too long? Those people need to stay with FB. Expletive!

    I wanna see the other buildings and stuff. Those early doctors' offices harbor all kinds of interesting "pervertibles" (a jargon term in the BDSM Community for everyday items that can be repurposed).

    1. Well, I know that if I'm reading a post that goes on and on about a mildly interesting subject I tend to start speed-reading (Remember Evelyn Wood speed reading course? Yep, took that when I was in Junior High) rather than enjoying and I don't want my posts to be responsible for speeding!

      The printers, general store, and doctor's office were pretty generic and generated limited interest so they as well as the agriculture area didn't make the cut. But you didn't miss anything. No real surprises in the doctor's office that could have lead to enhanced experiences.

  2. Indeed, i too not so interested in this. OMG, but yes i too write mostly for my self anyway, The internet my memory bank, if i forget something there is often a trace of it on-line, some post i left somewhere.

    1. That's what I tell myself as well. It's a memory bank for the future me. But when I'm being darkly realistic, you know, at 2 - 3 in the morning while waiting - forever - for sunrise, I realize that if I forgot to that extent I'm not likely to enjoy being reminded just how far gone my memory really is.

      So sometimes, in those dark moments - and I'm writing this on the longest day of the year (because of the earth's elliptical orbit, in terms of solar days, today is a full minute longer than June 21 will be) with the least amount of daylight of the year, which seems kinda appropriate - I think that writing this blog is just another form of raging at the ravages of time. And really, I don't have time to rage. I'm too busy making the most out of the ride.

    2. Now you did get my interest! ( But it is all good) What you say about the full minute longer, i have tried to understand that concept before, but it scrambles my brain. But that is pretty cool! if that in length thing applies here up North today, i can use it today. Thanks

    3. Only problem is that on this day that already has the shortest amount of daylight half that extra minute is in the DARK! Not my idea of fun.

      This 20 minute video does a good job of explaining time and how the earth moves in terms that won't fry the brains of us laymen - I mean lay people.

  3. I think it's difficult for introverts without a lot of facebook "friends" or other social media presence to get a lot of views on many subjects. I have many single digit posts (mostly about coffee roasting). I write for myself and when I'm in the mood. A lot of young people barely read anything longer than a paragraph for pleasure. The world is going to hell, and get off of my lawn. :-)

    1. The sad thing is that my social-media savvy daughter has a masters in marketing and by following some of her suggestions I could probably boost my numbers considerably. Even sadder is that I have more family members than readers - - -