Coinciding with national celebrations during Military Appreciation Month (May), the Railway Museum San Angelo invites all active-duty service members, retirees, and their dependents to enjoy free admission with Military ID at the Depot from 10 until 4 this Saturday.
San Angelo and the Military go back over a century. In the beginning of WW2 San Angelo was chosen for 2 Army Air Bases. The terrain and climate were two of factors that was favorable to San Angelo but the biggest factor for locating the bases here was that San Angelo had good Rail service. Prior to WW2 there was very little air service and the Military like most of Americans relied on the railroads to transport people and goods. Spur lines were laid to both Goodfellow and Mathis Fields so materials from lumber, food and practice bombs could be delivered. Students arrived at the depot on S. Chadbourne and were taken to their base in the back of large military trucks. Those who went to Goodfellow received their basic flight training. Bomber pilots and bombardiers went to Mathis. At Mathis Field the super secret Norton Bomb site was used to teach accuracy in bombing. This instrument was crucial to the allies winning the war and it was highly guarded.
One former bomber pilot who trained at Mathis recently came to the Railway Museum to show his family where he had arrived in San Angelo in 1943. It was amassed at the large collection of photos of both bases that are on display at the museum. He shared with volunteers at the Museum some of his experiences. One involved the Norton bomb site. He said that when the crew was at their plane ready for training a jeep would pull up and two armed MPs would bring a wooden box to the plane which contained the bomb site. He said no one would dare leave such a secret instrument with out a armed guard.
Another story imparted by a visitor a couple of years ago when she was touring the room that housed the Railroad Express made all the volunteers and visitors who over heard her realize just how much the war hit San Angelo. This lady was born and raised in San Angelo. She told us that she had meet her husband when he was stationed at Mathis Field when he was going to Bombardier school. Even though they had only known each other for a few weeks they decided to get married. Just 3 days later she came down the Train Station to see him off as he left for his tour of duty in Europe. She said he was always good about writing her and that she has kept those letters all these years. The next time she went to the Station was just a year later. She was there to pick up her husband. He had been killed in a mission over Germany and his body was shipped back on the train in a plain coffin. He sacrificed his life and she had given her husband so we all could remain free.
Stop by the Railway Museum this Saturday from 10-4 and go back in time with sights and stories. It will also be a great time to thank those men and women who today still protect the freedom we so cherish.
For more information check out the Museum’s web site: or
contact the museum’s president David Wood at 325-657-4880