The Martin & Frances Lehnis Railroad Museum became a reality in 2007, as a result of several years’ work done by people both in Brownwood and in the railroad community. Martin & Frances Lehnis had a farm east of Early, Texas for many years, where they raised their son and collected thousands of railroad artifacts. Martin (“Buster”) had worked for the Santa Fe railroad just 2 months shy of 50 years. Upon his retirement, he switched from full-scale railroading to model railroading. Martin & Frances even went so far as to build their own 7 1/2″ gauge railroad on their farm, giving rides to kids over the years.
As they grew older, they began planning out what to do with their massive collection of historic railroad artifacts- including a 1931 Santa Fe Caboose, 1929 Pullman Superintendent’s Car, and Kress Depot. The railroad community feared the collection would be sent all over the country. William Osborn an attorney in Austin, a rail fan and collector, helped the Lehnises form a contract with the City of Brownwood. The donated collection would help in establishing a transportation museum.