Rockdale and Milam County are no stranger to historical sites and impressive preservation efforts. One unique museum in Rockdale is the Rockdale International & Great Northern (I&GN) Depot.
The depot was purchased in 1999 by the Rockdale Historical society, with the intentions to return it to its former glory and create a museum dedicated to the history and importance of railroads to the surrounding areas in Texas. The restoration project began in 2000, thanks to donations and the fundraising efforts of the Rockdale Historical Society.
This Rockdale museum’s story dates back to 1873 when Rockdale was surveyed as a spot for the I&GN Railroad. The original depot was built and serviced the area for 30 years before a new depot was constructed one block west of the original location. A line connecting Rockdale to Austin was completed in 1876 but until that point, Rockdale was the end of the line.
The train was immensely popular with Rockdale residents and visitors and by the 1930s, the station employed an agent, cashier, baggage person, and porters. The depot had numerous passenger trains passing through daily and was serviced by one of the finest trains in the country at the time.
In 1970, train service stopped discontinued in many small towns with depots throughout Texas, and a local businessman bought the depot. By 1998, the historical society had formed and had a plan to restore the depot. The restoration project won the award of “Best Restoration Project” in the state due to the society’s attention to details.
The Rockdale I&GN Depot Museum includes a fun collection of historical artifacts and photographs. On-site, you’ll also find a restored Missouri Pacific caboose and the Rockdale Blacksmith building that has an operational forge and showcases tools used in the 1800s.
The museum is located at 11 N. Main Street and is open Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 – 4 p.m. or by appointment. The museum staff can be reached by phone at 512-446-2020.