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This old locomotive is now parked at the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum, but on a day in 2000 it was transported across town by truck.
DAVID STONE | June 7, 2022
A crowd of onlookers stood in silence — wide eyed and mouths open. After all, it’s not every day you see a 200-ton locomotive roll down Avenue H.
On a route usually travelled by cars and trucks, Engine No. 5423 slowly made its way on Sept. 21, 2000, from a location by Gober Party House just off the intersection of South 31st and Avenue H, to its new home behind the Santa Fe Depot.
A truck and crew from A & D Housemoving in Georgetown, accompanied by a fleet of Temple police cars and city service trucks, hauled the train. City workers lifted streetlights and power lines out of the way so the enormous locomotive could pass through signalized intersections.
The engine faced backward as it made its way through town.
“What they did was, they uncoupled the tender from the locomotive and jacked them up, then they put rubber-wheeled trucks under them and pulled it,” said Craig Ordner, railroad expert for the Springer Archives Collection and Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum.
In addition to the locomotive, the tender, three cabooses, a boxcar and a sleeper car also were moved to the Santa Fe Depot.
The locomotive was moved off the truck and placed on a section of track, and other cars were lined up behind to create a full train.
A & D Housemoving charged the city $39,570 to move the trains.
DAVID STONE | May 31, 2022
One of the stops for the Temple library between 1918 and 1964 was the Municipal Building, now usually referred to as City Hall.
Thanks to Temple voters who approved a $100,000 bond and to the generosity of the Carnegie Library Association, the old Post Office at Adams and Main was renovated and opened in 1964 as the new Temple Public Library.
After receiving funding from the Carpenter Foundation, the library moved into its current location. It has expanded several times and now occupies three floors. Before this current building was built, the location was home to another Temple landmark and the subject of a recent Our Town Temple story — Uncle Lee’s Toy World.
Our Town Temple has received multiple requests for information about the history of the Temple Public Library.
The library’s early days are a little hazy, but this is what I’ve come up with:
The earliest library in the city was actually more of a book club or book exchange. A few donated books were kept at the Temple post office and people could stop by and read or borrow the books.
Many of the books were picked up by people just passing through the area, so they were never returned. In order to keep books on the shelves, people borrowing books were required to leave a book when they “checked” one out.
The site of the first book exchange is a little fuzzy, but it was inside the Temple post office. The city — originally called Temple Junction — was formed by the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe railroad in 1881. That year, a post office was established in “Temple,” but until a physical location was agreed upon and constructed, the post office bounced around town and so did the library.
Records show that in October 1990, Temple’s library was located inside the Harvey & Lucas Bookstore in Downtown Temple.
Soon, Temple would receive a $10,000 gift from a railroad and steel industry tycoon who was devoted to helping educate the nation.
Many Americans first entered the worlds of information and imagination by walking through the doors of an Andrew Carnegie library. Between 1886 and 1919, Carnegie donated more than $40 million for the construction of 1,679 libraries in cities and towns across the country. Temple was one of the beneficiaries.
Temple’s version of The Carnegie was located on land that is now City Hall’s parking lot. It opened in 1904 and was a popular place for children and anyone wanting to improve their knowledge base or take a trip without leaving town. Unfortunately, the facility was fairly short lived — the library and most of its books burned to the ground in 1918.
The Temple library remained closed for six years, but during this time a new collection was built. Hundreds of books had been checked out at the time of the fire, and Temple residents hungry for a new library gladly returned them. Incarnations of the library bounced around Downtown Temple for decades, and at a time the small but growing book collection was kept in various locations inside the Temple Municipal Building, aka City Hall.
“I remember the library being in the Municipal Building on the second floor,” said Janey Lewis Heath of Temple. “I think you entered the building from the north door facing Adams Avenue. I loved to read Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames books. I still go to the library, just not as often.”
In 1953, Temple Public Library officially became a city department, and a decade later city residents approved a $100,000 bond to renovate the old Post Office on the corner of Main and Adams. The Carnegie Library Association contributed additional money and the library opened in its new location in 1964. The Friends of the Temple Public Library was formed in 1965 with 265 members.
The Main Street library is still fondly remembered by many Temple residents who participated in Story Time and summer reading challenges.
“I loved going to the basement to the children’s section and finding books to check out,” Nikki Oldham Wilson said today. “I remember when you first walked in the front door of the library, there were albums you could check out. There were also different newspapers, each hanging on its own rack. This was in the mid 1960s to probably 1970. I loved it there.”
Lucy Ludwick Greenway also has fond memories of that Main Street basement.
“I remember both the Municipal Building and the Post Office building libraries, but the old Post Office was my favorite,” she said. “I loved that little downstairs space. I could spend hours down there, sitting on the floor right in front of the shelves.”
“I always left with the maximum number of books they allowed,” Lucy said. “The Snipp, Snapp and Snurr series was a favorite. Nancy Drew, the Bobbsey Twins, Five Little Peppers — such memories.”
Denise Karimkhani also has memories of the old Post Office library, but most of her memories came as a working adult.
“I was the reference librarian there in 1976,” she said. “My desk was upstairs, and I assisted patrons with genealogy, microfilm, business and general reference.”
In 1993, the library received money from the E. Rhodes and Leona Carpenter Foundation, and two years later it moved into the current building, which was home to Bank of America and the Carpenter Foundation.
Over the years, the library expanded and today it oversees three floors of the building at 100 West Adams.
Teresa Anderson, Temple’s destination marketing manager, says the city’s biggest draw is unique experiences such as fine restaurants and nightspots, major conventions, sports tournaments and world-class bass fishing. But, with limited hotel and convention space, she says the city is turning away business.
DAVID STONE | May 11, 2022
Temple doesn’t have Florida’s sandy beaches, Colorado’s snowy peaks or Arizona’s giant crack in the ground. But despite the lack of natural splendor, people flock here every year and spend a mountain of money.
In 2021 — just a year removed from “shelter in place” pandemic mandates — visitors spent a whopping $161.3 million at Temple hotels, restaurants, gas stations, retail stores, museums and other attractions. That money generated $15.8 million in tax receipts that went into city coffers.
“Temple doesn’t have the amazing natural assets, and we don’t have man-made marvels like Disneyland or Six Flags,” said Teresa Anderson, Temple’s Destination Marketing manager. “But we do have unique experiences — major conventions, sports tournaments, great fishing, fabulous restaurants. We’re packaging some of these experiences together to bring in more people.”
Thousands of visitors come to Temple from all over the country for medical treatments and appointments. They stay at hotels, dine and drink at restaurants and watering holes, and shop for gifts, groceries, gas and an endless variety of merchandise and services.
“Our medical community is big, but people aren’t just coming to Temple for health reasons,” Anderson said. “We have so much to offer — the Frank Mayborn Convention Center, the Cultural Activities Center, Spare Time, Crossroads Park, museums and a robust Downtown.”
“The city is investing in development, and they are focusing on quality of life improvements that bring in new people. Some people come here to visit, and some come here to live. With all of the construction and renovations, the next 30 months will bring a lot of change.”
These “changes” include two parking garages, apartment communities, a festival grounds and dozens of new businesses. Temple is poised to attract more conventions and sports tournaments, but according to Anderson, the city is in need of more hotel rooms.
“Right now, we have about 2,000 rooms,” she said. “That’s not enough. We could probably double that. But we don’t really need more limited-service hotels. Temple needs a conference hotel or a nice resort hotel.”
“We are turning away an average of 10 meeting leads per week from people interested in bringing an event or conference to the Mayborn Center, but they don’t book because of our limited-capacity meeting space. We are having to turn away business.”
Anderson said the convention center has strong weekend business with weddings, anniversary celebrations and other events, but it needs more Monday through Thursday bookings.
According to Anderson, a hotel with large conference and convention capabilities would go a long way toward capturing the overflow events.
Based on information provided by Anderson, the maximum occupancy at the Mayborn Center varies depending on how the facility’s 18,620-square-foot Main Hall is configured. When set up as an auditorium, the Hall holds 1,926 people. But, that number drops to 880 when it’s configured for a banquet. During job fairs and other vendor-based events, the Main Hall will hold 88 booths, Anderson said.
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Just how big of a year did Temple tourism have during 2021?
That $161.3 million is the most ever spent in a single year by visitors to the city. Since 2008, Temple has benefited from at least $100 million in tourist spending every year except one — 2009. During the pandemic year of 2020, when travel was highly discouraged, visitors still spent nearly $130 million locally.
Temple calendars are filled with an array of big events, and the need for more hotel space is likely to grow, Anderson said.
Here’s a look at the economic impact of some of the city’s biggest draws during 2022:
The International Senior Softball Tournament was held March 6-8 at Crossroads Park. The event had an economic impact of $36,160 and visitors spent 160 room nights.
A room night is the number of motel rooms occupied by people attending an event multiplied by the number of nights they will stay. For example, if 10 rooms were booked for three nights, that would be 30 room nights.
Texas Veterans Commission HCAD Training was held April 18-22 at Hilton Garden Inn and had an economic impact of $10,848. Visitors spent 48 room nights.
The Texas Association of Private & Parochial Schools Music Competition was held April 19-21 and had an economic impact of $67,800. Visitors spent 300 room nights.
The first of three Premiere Events 7-on-7 Football Tournament was held April 23-25 at Korompai Fields. The economic impact was $94,500 and visitors stayed 500 room nights.
The Earthmoving Contractors Association of Texas were in town for an April 23-24 meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn. The economic impact was $6,780 and 30 room nights were used.
The Texas State Soil & Water Conservation Board met at the Mayborn Center on April 25-27, and it had an economic impact of $22,600. Visitors stayed 100 room nights.
The Texas Hot Road Tour was here April 30 and used 225 hotel rooms. The economic impact from this event was $50,850.
National Model Railroad Association annual convention held May 5-7. This convention was held at the Mayborn Convention Center and had an economic impact of $51,076. Visitors spent 226 room nights in the Temple area.
The Premiere Events 7-on-7 Football Tournament was held May 7-8 at Korompai Fields. The economic impact was $94,500 and visitors spent 50 room nights in the Temple area.
The STYSA Soccer Director’s Cub Tournament was held May 7-8 at Crossroads Park. The tournament had a direct economic impact of $252,000 and visitors spent 500 room nights in the Temple area.
The Texas High School Bass Association will hold its state tournament at Belton Lake on May 13-15. That tournament has a projected economic benefit of $135,600, and anglers and tournament officials will be spending 600 room nights in local hotels and motels.
Also on May 13-14, the Area XII FFA Association will hold its annual convention at the Mayborn Center. Visitors will spend 125 room nights and will spend an estimated $33,900 while in town.
May 13-14 also will see the USA Girls Fastpitch Softball Tournament at Crossroads Park. This event will have an estimated economic impact of $45,200 and 200 room nights will be needed.
The Bad Boys Billiards Tournament is May 21-30 at the Mayborn Center, and will bring an estimated economic boon of $101,700. Visitors will spend 450 room nights in the area.
Yee-Haw! The Texas State Federation of Square & Round Dancers are coming June 9-11, and they will bring in an estimated $73,450. Visitors will spend about 325 room nights in the Temple area.
Baylor Scott & White will hold its School Nurse Conference on June 14-17 at the Mayborn Center. The will bring in an estimated $101,700 and 450 room nights will be used.
The Premiere Events 7-on-7 Football Tournament returns June 17-18 at Korompai Fields. This time, the economic impact is expected to hit $94,500 and the visitors will spend 50 room nights.
The Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association’s annual meeting will be Aug. 19-21 at Hilton Garden Inn. The conference has an estimated economic impact of $11,300 and visitors will spend 50 room nights.
The Texas Society of Colonial Dames will meet Aug. 24-26 at Hilton Garden Inn, and the expected economic impact is $27,120 room nights.
The USA Softball Men’s National Labor Day Tournament will be held at Crossroads Park on Sept. 3-4. The economic impact is expected to reach $45,200 and 200 room nights will be used.
On Sept. 19-21, the International Fellowship of Chaplains Symposium will be held at Mayborn Convention Center with an estimated economic impact of $50,850. Visitors will spend 225 room nights during the event.
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Anderson has been in the destination marketing business for three decades and has spent the past 2.5 years here in Temple.
“The destination marketing position was new in Temple when I arrived,” Anderson said. “I was intrigued — it was building a new program from the ground up.”
“It’s my job to share with the visiting public that Temple is a place to spend time and enjoy,” she said. “We want to bring in more sports tournaments, more meetings and more conventions.”
Last month, the city relaunched its Discover Temple website, and converted its Downtown Temple website into a micro-site that resides inside Discover Temple. The new site is discovertemple.com.
“Temple has a real opportunity,” she said. “It’s a vibrant city with a lot to offer and a lot more on the way. Temple is primed for more hotels, big sports tournaments, major conventions and big music festivals.”
“We want to make Temple more than a place to visit — we want to create a destination.”