The New Braunfels Historic Railroad and Modelers Society is a non-profit organization which preserves and promotes the history of the New Braunfels, Texas, branch line of the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railway. It is located at 302 W San Antonio St, New Braunfels, TX 78130. It offers members educational activities, special excursions and social events. Its mission is to preserve and promote the history of the branch line. The railroad began operations in 1850 as a private logging line from Fredericksburg to San Antonio. In 1873 it was sold to the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Company, which extended its length to Seguin in 1880 and extended it again another 120 miles eastward to New Braunfels in 1886. In 1903 an L&N Railroad branch was built from Seguin northward to Llano, which later became known as the Llano Subdivision. The main line operated as far west as Lockhart until 1984 when it was abandoned by that date’s owner — BNSF Railway Company. However, thanks to the efforts of volunteers who still operate on part of it, most of it remains active today with service between San Antonio northeastward to La Grange; many trains still originate or terminate there.
History of the New Braunfels Branch Line
The history of the branch line begins with the lumbering industry of the Southwest. The San Antonio-San Mexico Railroad, later known as the Western Railroad of Texas, was incorporated in 1849 and began operations in 1852. The first rail link between the two cities was a 45-mile branch line from Fredericksburg, through Kerrville and Junction to New Braunfels. The Fredericksburg-Kerrville-Junction-New Braunfels line was completed in 1869. Two decades later, this network included the branch line (now known as the New Braunfels Branch) that would make Santa Fe possible. The logging industry in the early 1800s had exhausted the forests in Central Texas, leaving them as “wasteland covered with cactus and scrub,” according to an 1886 “New Braunfels News” article. Development of the area centered on the San Antonio-Austin line, which stimulated interest in the Northwest. The Fredericksburg and New Braunfels Railroad Company was incorporated on May 28, 1877, with a $2 million stock subscription. The railroad was designed to link San Antonio and New Braunfels with a branch running north from New Braunfels to Llano. The Fredericksburg and Llano Railroad Company was incorporated on May 28, 1879, with a $1.4 million stock subscription to link Llano to Fredericksburg. In 1880, the Fredericksburg and Llano Railroad was extended from Llano to Seguin, thus connecting with the San Antonio-San Marti line. The Fredericksburg and Seguin Railroad Company was incorporated in 1887 to extend the Fredericksburg and Llano to Seguin. The Fredericksburg and New Braunfels Railroad Company was incorporated in 1890 to extend the Fredericksburg and Llano to New Braunfels. The Fredericksburg and Seguin Railroad Company was incorporated in 1891 to extend the Fredericksburg and San Antonio line to Seguin. The New Braunfels Branch was completed in 1882 and operated across the Guadalupe River on a bridge that had been built in 1876 to link New Braunfels with the Fredericksburg and Llano Railroad at Llano. When the Seguin and Guadalupe Valley Railroad Company was incorporated on June 25, 1882, to build a line from Seguin to New Braunfels, the New Braunfels Branch was extended to connect with it at Llano. The Seguin and New Braunfels Railroad was incorporated on May 10, 1896, to extend the Seguin and Guadalupe Valley railroad to New Braunfels, and a second line was built from Seguin to La Grulla.
Today, the New Braunfels Branch is still in use for freight and for passenger trains operated by the BNSF Railway Company. The line, however, has been “modernized” in many sections, including a few trestles built in the 20th century. Sometimes a freight train will be heard on it, but most of the line is rarely used, being too steep and curvy to be of much use to passenger trains. The BNSF operates on a portion of the line from San Antonio to La Grulla, but not between Seguin and Llano. The BNSF operates the line through its rail subsidiary, the New Braunfels Subdivision, with the primary route being from San Antonio to La Grulla. Some freight trains still use the branch line from Seguin northward to Llano. Many of these trains originate in Llano or run from Llano, so the New Braunfels Branch remains active on the Llano end.
New Braunfels Museum and Library
The New Braunfels Museum and Library is a 501(c)(3) non-profit institution. The Museum and Library are open to the public and offer a variety of educational and recreational activities. Both the Museum and Library are operated by the New Braunfels Branch Railroad Historical Society. The Museum is located on the original site of the New Braunfels depot. The Museum houses NMHRR exhibits and displays, including a comprehensive collection of railroad artifacts and memorabilia. In the Library, NMHRR members can find a large collection of books, magazines, and railroad-related computer software. The New Braunfels Branch Railroad Historical Society, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which is operated by the New Braunfels Branch Railroad Historical Society, Inc. The NMHRRHS sponsors several activities and programs for the public, including train rides, passenger excursions, and public lectures.