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History of railroads of Coastal Bend on display

By Victoria Advocate
Jan. 28, 2012 at 5:04 p.m.
Updated Jan. 27, 2012 at 7:28 p.m.

Some of the items on display at the exhibit, Railroad, at the Victoria Regional History Museum in the VC/UHV Library. The artifacts are on loan from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Obsta.

If you go

What: Railroads exhibitWhere: Victoria Regional History Center, second floor of VC/UHV Library.When: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, through FebruaryFor more info: Contact Sheron Barnes at barness@uhv.edu

A history of railroads in the Coastal Bend is on exhibit at the Victoria Regional History Center.

The exhibit features artifacts on loan from Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Obsta, as well as photographs from the VC/UHV Library Photograph Collection.

Robert Obsta worked for the railroads for 47 years, first as a fireman on steam locomotives and later on diesel engine trains. When Obsta retired in 1997, former Victoria Advocate columnist Henry Wolff Jr. recounted Obsta's memories of working for the railroad. The article depicted some of Obsta's harrowing adventures as a train engineer.

Once, while returning from the Rio Grande Valley, Obsta recalled the brakes on his train going into emergency mode. "I looked back and saw two refrigerator cars going side by side across a pasture," Obsta said.

Another time, between Orange Grove and Alice, the windshield on his engine was shattered by a gunshot on the opening day of deer season.

One of the railroad artifacts featured in the exhibit is a train order hoop. The dispatcher would issue orders to the crew of a passing train by placing them in the hoop, either held by the operator as the train passed or mounted at trackside.

Images of depots include those from Bloomington, El Campo, Francitas, Ganado, Goliad, Hallettsville, Inez, Louise, Mariana, Port O'Connor, Raisin, Rowena, Schulenburg, Shiner, Vanderbilt and Victoria. Sadly, many of these depots exist today only in pictures and in the memories of railroad workers and passengers.

The railroad display will be here through February.

The Victoria Regional History Center is located on the second floor of the VC/UHV Library. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information contact Sheron Barnes at barness@uhv.edu or call 361-570-4175 and 570-4176.

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