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Cotton Belt Train Museum

Hours of OperationCotton Belt Depot
Monday through Saturday
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (year round)



The annual Cotton Belt Depot Model Train Show is on the last weekend of April. The next show is April 28, 2012 and April 29, 2012. Please feel free to call for more information.

Museum History

 

Construction on the Cotton Belt Depot began in 1902; on June 2, 1905 the depot was open for passenger service and continued in service until April 22, 1956. After the passenger trains stopped running, the depot served as offices, shops and storage until 1977, it than sat vacant for about 11 years. On Nov. 6, 1988 Southern Pacific Rail Road deeded the Cotton Belt Depot to the City of Tyler and the Depot was ultimately renovated to house the Tyler Transit Department and the Cotton Belt Depot Museum, which is staffed by volunteers from the Cotton Belt Rail Historical Society.

The Cotton Belt Depot Museum has received visitors from all 50 states and 38 foreign counties. On average, the Cotton Belt Depot receives about 400 visitors, from all over the world, each month.
The Collection
Included in the museum is the fabulous "Bragg Collection" which is a vast collection of Mr. and Mrs. Clyde Bragg accumulated over a period of 26 years. Construction on the Bragg Collection layout started on March 5, 2005; the first trains on the layout were run on June 4, 2005, in conjunction with the Cotton Belt Depot centennial celebration. The Bragg Collection consists of about 200 locomotives and over 1,600 rail cars. Additionally, there is a vast collection of house, vehicles, airport, bridges and other miscellaneous pieces.

In addition to the Bragg Collection, there are three other model train layouts that were donated as well as a host of artifacts from by-gone years of the railroad industry. There also are many pictures, uniforms, hats, etc. that have been donated by former employees and friends of the depot. Many of these artifacts date into the late 1800s and encompass a large area of the Cotton Belt Depot Museum. The Museum accepts artifacts from donors as an out-right gift or on loan.

Visitors to the museum also are able to get a “hands-on” chance to run the controls for an elaborate model train system. The Cotton Belt Depot Museum also hosts tours from area schools as well as Scouts and various other groups such as travel clubs, churches and senior citizen groups. The volunteers from the Cotton Belt Rail Historical Society who staff the Cotton Belt Depot do their best to arrange their schedules to accommodate these groups.