Five Hills royalty climb aboard Central Texas’ railroad past

Special to Leader-Press
Tiny Miss Five Hills Isabella Cross climbed up the steps and inside the sleeper car at the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum. The toddler did not realize she was walking in the steps of her family’s history. 
Helena Cross, Isabella’s grandmother, said the experience at the museum was delightful.
“Isabella had a blast on the private tour at Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum,” Helena Cross said. “Isabella’s great-grandfather worked 45 years with Union Pacific and recently passed away last year, so this event meant a great deal to our family.”
The Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum hosted the Copperas Cove Five Hills royalty for a special private tour on Saturday opening up the caboose and sleeper car for them to experience life on the rails more than a century ago. 
“I had tons of fun getting to be inside the trains,” said Junior Miss Five Hills Hayley Sawyer who toured the facility in her own train conductor hat and whistle. “Also, the hands-on history with all of my royalty family was amazing.”
One of the exhibits that seemed to catch the most attention was a medical display sharing that Dr. Scott and Dr. White, who founded the local area hospital, were both railroad doctors.
The titleholders also enjoyed ringing the bells on the train, operating the gears, pounding out Morse code messages and pretending to shovel coal to keep the train’s fires burning.
“The train museum was so cool,” Junior Mister Five Hills Jackson Gibbs said. “I loved seeing all the old tools they used and pretending to be a train conductor.”
This was the first visit to the museum for Copperas Cove Five Hills Ambassador Briana Liles.
“I am glad I got the free ticket as part of the pageant and I learned a lot while I was there,” Liles said. “I love all the volunteer work I do with pageant, but I truly enjoyed the time spent at the museum with the royalty, not working, but just having a good time together. It was a nice reward.”
All contestants in the Five Hills Scholarship Pageant received a free pass to the museum that has sponsored the event since its inception in 2014.
Young Miss Five Hills sat at one of the café tables as she imagined what it would be like to enjoy a meal on a train more than a century ago. 
“The train museum was so much fun as well as educational. I learned so much history on how people traveled on trains,” Torres said. “It taught me that our way of transportation has come so far throughout the years. I would encourage everyone to visit the museum since its such a big part of Central Texas history.”
The museum is located at 315 W. Avenue B in Temple. It is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

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