Take a Trip through Smithville’s Railroad History

Smithville was a sleepy village of about 65 people when the Taylor, Bastrop & Houston Railroad came through in 1886, the year that changed everything in Smithville. In 1891, the Missouri, Kansas & Texas (MK&T, or Katy) Railroad took over and, in 1894, established Smithville as the first maintenance yard south of Waco.  By 1909, about 400 Katy workers headquartered in Smithville, which had become the largest town in Bastrop County with a population of about 3,500, including several grocery and department stores, blacksmith shops, saloons, cafes, and hotels.

Smithville’s Railroad Museum is chock full of engaging exhibits of authentic railroad artifacts, all of which tell Smithville’s railroad story from its first one-room office through the large second and third depots, until the end of passenger service and the maintenance facility in Smithville. Stories are told through pictures and newspaper headlines, video and exhibits of railroad disasters, the Railroad YMCA where transitory workers stayed, and loads of railroad lanterns, telegraph keys, typewriters, passenger tickets, and other items used in day-to-day operation.

Old Train DepotImagine, for a moment, that you’re in the Smithville Depot in 1886 with your Mom, dressed in your finest clothes for traveling to visit your aunt in Dallas, with your lunch in a pail, while Mom is at the ticket window getting your tickets. Workers are behind the depot, filling the steam engine with water as the porter carries your luggage to the platform, ready to take with you onto the passenger car. Meanwhile, freight boxcars are being loaded with cotton bales, fresh from the nearby cotton gin, that are being shipped up North. You really want that train whistle and engineer cap at the Gift Shop, and if you’re lucky, your Mom might just buy you both.  But the whistle sounds, and the Conductor is calling “All Aboard!”



Open year-round. Museum hours:
Monday - Friday 10 am – 3 pm

Admission to the museum is free.
Bring the whole family!

Special events and other hours by appointment only. Inquire at the Smithville Chamber of Commerce at [512] 237-2313 or email.


James H. Long Railroad Park and Museum
Main Street @ The Gazebo
100 NW 1st Street  |  P.O. Box 716
Smithville, Texas 78957