Brownsville Museum and Historic Southern Pacific Railroad Passenger Depot
Built in 1928, this lovely Spanish style former depot is today the Brownsville Historical Museum.
Backstory and Context
The museum showcases a variety of exhibits that interpret events from Brownsville’s past. These exhibits include information from the earliest military fort in our area to displays of antique furniture and once common household items.
In 1990, the Mary Yturria Education Center was constructed behind the depot building for providing the community a center for educational outreach programs, cultural programs, art exhibits and civic events. The center routinely features an art exhibit on display by a local artist.
This depot was built by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1928 as part of its extension into the Rio Grande Valley. A fine example of Spanish colonial revival architecture, the depot features a tile roof, arcades, curvilinear parapets, and other ornamentation common to that style. The structure was used as a passenger depot until 1952. It now serves as a reminder of the railroad’s impact on the development of Brownsville and the lower Rio Grande Valley.
A feature exhibit of the museum is a Baldwin wood-burning, narrow gauge railroad locomotive. The Rio Grande Railroad began operating in 1872 between Brownsville and Point Isabel, now Port Isabel. The entire distance of the line was 22.5 miles. This tiny engine known as Rio Grande Engine Number 1, has the distinction of being the last of its kind in the world.