A Concise History of the Texas Transportation Museum
TTM Mission Statement
Texas Transportation Museum is a volunteer lead organization that collects, preserves and displays transportation equipment and related items. We operate a working passenger railroad, several model train layouts and many road vehicles. We provide an educational and entertaining experience which interprets how developments in transportation technology shaped and continue to impact daily life.
The Texas Transportation Museum was created in 1964 to help preserve artifacts and information about the varied elements of San Antonio's fascinating transportation history. We operate as much of our collection as possible. This includes our volunteer built full sized railroad and many vehicles. The museum was originally located at the Pearl Brewery near downtown and used the tracks of its short line railroad, the Texas Transportation Company. In 1967 the museum was granted use of approximately forty acres of what was then known as the Northeast Preserve, now McAllister Park, just north of the International Airport on Wetmore Road.
Everything you find at this site, which we have been developing since then was either built by volunteers or donated to the museum, which is a registered 501(c)(3) charity. We acquired an historic depot, built our own tracks, acquired four locomotives (two steam and two diesel electrics), two historically significant railroad cars and five cabooses. In addition we built a huge work building that can accommodate our locomotives, a 100 X 50 foot display building which houses our road vehicle collection. a vast indoor HO scale layout and much on our historical artifact collection. Our extensive ground contains our railroad, half of which is mainline track. We also built the largest public G, or garden scale outdoor layout in Texas. We participate in many San Antonio public events. both large and small. Our vehicles are almost fixtures in all of the Fiesta parades plus other event like the St. Patrick's Day parade and the San Antonio Founders Day event held at San Pedro Park in the Fall. We have great relations with the San Antonio Parks & Recreation Department, the San Antonio Conservation Society, The Daughters of the Texas Republic, the Institute of Texan Cultures, the Witte Museum, the Pioneer Hall and many other prominent civic organizations.
Our list of donors in the past includes the great and the good across the city. They include Red McCombs, The Union Pacific Railroad, the Burlington & Northern Railroad, the Kronkosky Foundation, SMT Truck Lines, HEB, the San Antonio City Employees Federal Credit Union, South Texas Interiors, Trans Texas Rails plus many others. We are also extremely grateful to the many, many individuals who have made donations over the forty years TTM has been in business. Without their generosity the museum simply would not exist.
We also try to give back to the community. One of our best partnerships is with the US Marines and their "Toys For Tots" program. We also participate in US Armed Forces Week plus provide reduced admissions for military personnel and senior citizens. Our education program allows school students of all ages to visit the museum for only $2.00 a child, one of the least expensive programs in the city. Our docents provide age appropriate guided tours plus these young folks actually get to experience what a real train ride actually feels like.
Museum attendance is growing impressively. At the current rate of growth we will be attracting 20,000 people annually within just a few years. The list of projects we have in mind is impressively large but our history indicates that we will achieve them. In order to accelerate progress we will need outside investment. If you would like to make a donation, of any kind or size, we would be delighted to hear from you.
Our goal is to continually improve our museum. We are very proud of the enormous strides we have made and continue to make despite our limited resources. Here is a list or our most recent achievements:
Completed Capital Improvements Projects
- Refurbish our historic depot, inside and out.
- Build more attractive, secure and safe new entrance gate complete with four flagpoles.
- Design and install a huge new entrance sign.
- Repaint 4035 locomotive.
- Repaint two cabooses.
- Convert old flat railroad car to passenger service.
- Upgrade interior HO layout control system to state of the art DCC (digital control).
- Create huge Lionel scale layout in main display building.
- Add new layout at garden railroad for smaller children who can control the trains.
- Add elevated layout at garden railroad for year round service in any weather conditions
- Replace most wooden signs with professionally made, higher quality metal signs.
- Fully restore #7071, our 1942 General Electric diesel-electric locomotive for regular passenger service
- Restore party caboose to service after a disastrous fire
- Create a "Car Corner" with themed displays of high quality model cars, generously loaned by a museum member
Equipment Improved, Replaced or Purchased
- Completely replace the 5,000 square feet metal roof over our main display building.
- Replace older back-hoe with newer model.
- Replace fork lift truck with larger model better suited to our as yet unpaved roads.
- Buy new riding lawn mower, self-propelled walk behind mower, and several weed eaters.
- Replace older trackage at garden railroad with all new stainless steel tracks.
- Upgrade electrics around our huge site, add better lighting.
- Custom build a weed spraying unit on a small flat car pulled by a rail motor car to help keep tracks looking their best
ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Improvements
- Upgrade restrooms to ADA standards with new doors and commodes.
- Build ADA compliant parking spaces adjacent to main building.
- Improve ADA access across many areas of our property.
- Build ramp for ADA access to rail flat car to enable everyone to be able to ride
Public Relations Improvements
- Continuing growth in attendance.
- Create a web site, with comprehensive information about TTM and its collections, add thorough histories of regional transportation developments.
- Written and published two local transportation history books
- Create a Facebook page for the museum
- Participate in many local events such as parades and history faires.
- Partner with other charities in our area for mutual benefit. These include the San Antonio Food Bank and "Stuff the Bus" back to school supplies drives.
All of this has taken a lot of money, of course. At this time we receive no funding from any level of government, federal, state, county or city. All of our income comes from our visitors and the generosity of donors. The fantastic news is that these improvements have always led to even higher attendance.