Cleburne has always been a transportation hub. The town began as a bivouac, known as Camp Henderson, for Confederate soldiers as they marched off to war. After the Civil War, the site became a permanent settlement named after Patrick R. Cleburne, a general many of the local men fought under during the war. Cleburne was built near the historic Chisholm Trail, one of the most important cattle drive routes in North America. The arrival of the railroad in the 1880’s further spurred Cleburne’s growth. At its height, three major rail lines connected Cleburne to Dallas, Fort Worth, and other major urban areas in the state. Although the importance of the railroad declined in the middle of the 20th century, Cleburne still has two major railways, including an Amtrak line.
There are several ways to experience Cleburne’s history for yourself. Start with The Chisholm Trail Outdoor Museum, an outdoor attraction situated along the old trail. The museum features a period-style blacksmith shop, teepees, life-size cattle drive silhouettes, the original log courthouse of Johnson County’s first seat, Wardville and the Big Bear Native American Museum. Then head to the Layland Museum of History, an extensive collection of photographs, fossils, Indian clothing, and other items that tells Cleburne’s story from when Native Americans lived in the area to the 20th century. The museum is housed within the spectacular Carnegie Library, a picturesque structure built in the early 1900’s. Cleburne is also home to more than 60 homes built in the late 19th century and early 20th century, making the town itself a living monument to the past.
These days, Cleburne has as much to offer outdoor adventurers as it does history aficionados. Swim, paddle, and relax at Lake Pat Cleburne, a 1,500-acre lake just southwest of town that is known as one of the best bass fishing spots in North Texas. Mountain bikers of all skill levels will find much to enjoy about the technical trails at Cleburne State Park, while golfers can play a round at the Cleburne Golf Links.
Of course, that’s not all there is to do in Cleburne. Catch a show by the Plaza Theatre Company or Carnegie Players, browse the Gone With the Wind Remembered Museum, and discover the many shops and restaurants in downtown Cleburne. There are also the many rodeos, festivals, and other events held in town that are well worth attending.
With so much to see and do, Cleburne is a worthy addition to your Texas travel bucket list. Come here and you’ll see why.
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