Llano County’s museums are windows to its history

Historic cabin in Llano
A log cabin from Llano’s early days greets visitors to the Llano County Historical Museum. Photo courtesy of 101HighlandLakes.com

To get a closer look at the rich and vibrant history of Llano County, and learn more about what’s made the area the special place it is, visit its artifact-filled museums. Don’t just rush through them; take time to study the exhibits, photos, art, and documents. It could be the best few hours you’ve spent.

Llano Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center

100 Train Station Drive in Llano; 325-247-5354

Open: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday

This is a good starting point in your museum journey. Visitor Center personnel are glad to answer all of your questions, including information about museum exhibits in the complex. 

The center houses the Llano Railroad Museum, a project of the nonprofit Llano River Railroad. 

Llano’s railroad history began in 1893, when the Austin and Northwestern Railroad extended its line into town. The visitor center, constructed in 2005, was built in a style similar to Llano’s 1894 passenger depot. 

The museum’s collection includes vintage photos and artifacts such as railroad signals and a baggage cart. Outside, a small, rolling stock collection includes a caboose and a passenger car.   

Recently, the Llano River Railroad opened the Llano County Mining Exhibit on the east side of the Visitor Center. In this tribute to Llano’s mining past, which first attracted the railroad, you can view samples of minerals mined in the area, a display of mining hand tools, a mine cart, and a replica assay office. This outdoor exhibit is open 24/7.

Llano County Historical Museum

310 Bessemer in Llano; 325-247-3027 

Open: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday

Llano County Historical Museum
The Llano County Historical Museum at 310 Bessemer Ave. in Llano. Photo courtesy of 101HighlandLakes.com

This museum teems with relics of Llano County’s past, including a marble soda counter from the building’s original tenant, Bruhl’s Drugstore. Outside the museum, you’ll see a log cabin from Llano’s early days, a bell salvaged from a schoolhouse, and a machine that once produced blocks of ice. 

Inside, view historic photos, antique typewriters and cash registers, a model of Enchanted Rock, cattle brands from area ranches, arrowheads, and samples of minerals, including Llanite, which is only found in Llano County. 

Llano Red Top Jail

400 Oatman in Llano

Open: By appointment only. Call the Llano Chamber of Commerce at 325-247-5354.

This historic lockup, built from locally quarried granite, housed county inmates from 1895 to 1982 and is virtually unchanged since the last guest checked out. Graffiti from as far back as 1918 still adorns cell walls.

Visiting a jail might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re interested, call the number above to make arrangements. Be forewarned: The building is not air-conditioned.

For more information on events and attractions in Llano County, go to VisitLlanoCounty.com.