Museum of South Texas
regional museum hosts traveling exhibitions from across
the nation and other countries throughout the year. The
museum also has a permanent collection, a portion of
which, including an impressive group of sculptures, is
always on display. Museum hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Monday through Wednesday and Friday, to 8 p.m. on
Thursday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. It is located at
500 Main Street, downtown, (409) 832-3432. Free
Didrickson Zaharias Museum
at 1750 I-10, at exit 854, this museum documents the
feats of the famous athlete, a Beaumont native. Displays
include the many awards won by Zaharias, whose first name
was Mildred, her records, and a history of her life and
times. Included is a regional Visitor Center, with
tourist information and books about the region. The
museum is open daily, except Christmas Day, from 9 a.m.
to 5 p.m. Admission fee.
historic electrical substation, built in 1929, has been
restored and converted into a museum honoring the life of
Thomas Alva Edison, and other inventors of the electrical
age. The exhibit halls contain artifacts of the early
days of electricity, as well as communicating the
accomplishments of the electrical industry. You'll find
the museum at 350 Pine Street, downtown. It's open
Tuesday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Free
Museum of Texas
engine buffs will have to visit this early 20th century
fire hall, to see the collection of historic firefighting
equipment including seven major units representing
firefighting from 1779 to the present day. It's at 400
Walnut Street, downtown. Museum hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30
p.m., Monday through Friday.
on the Lamar University Campus, at Martin Luther King
Parkway and Lavaca Street, this striking building is a
showplace for an outstanding permanent art collection and
special showings. For information on current exhibitions,
call (409) 880-8141. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday
through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday. A tour
of the galleries takes from 30 minutes to an hour.
Houses on Display
John Jay French Museum, at 2975 French Road is a Greek
Revival style home, built in 1845. The fully restored
home shows the life and times of the earliest Texas
settlers, through the experiences of the French family.
Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through
Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The
McFaddin-Ward House, at 1906 Calder, at 3rd, offers
another glimpse into the lifestyle of an early, wealthy
Southeast Texas family. This home is in the Beaux Arts
Colonial style, and is open Tuesday through Saturday from
10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
There is an admission fee and reservations are
recommended, call (409) 832-2134.
on the Lamar University campus, this site includes a
reconstruction of an oil boomtown that sprung up
following the blowing of Spindletop in 1901. Included is
a 58-foot granite monument to the Lucas Gusher. Museum
hours are 1 to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.
petroleum industry is hardly out of sight when you visit
the Gulf Coast of Texas, and this museum is not only a
peon to the oil industry but is also a hands-on science
center with multimedia displays, and exhibits on geology
and the natural history of oil and the energy industry in
general. Museum hours ate Tuesday through Sunday from 9
a.m. to 5 p.m., and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
7777 Fannett Road (Highway 12), this large two-story
complex offers a tribute to military and civilian heroes,
including heroes from U.S. military history. There is an
admission fee, and the museum is open Tuesday through
Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., and Sunday from 1
p.m. to 5 p.m.
is by far the most esoteric museum in Texas, exhibiting
memorabilia of the semi-famous vocal group that gave
performances around the world for 30 years. Admission is
free, and the museum is open during theater performances,
and by appointment. For information, call (409)
Thicket National Preserve
over a huge, jagged J-shaped area north of Beaumont, Big
Thicket consists of nine separate land units and four
water corridors, covering 86,000 acres. It is here that
the varied ecosystems of the region come together. The
preserve has been designated an International Biosphere
Reserve by UNESCO. The information center for the
preserve is located in the administrative offices, at
3785 Milam Street, in Beaumont. The information station
is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For advance
information, call (409) 246-2337, or write
Superintendent, Big Thicket National Preserve, 3785
Milam, Beaumont TX 77701.
hiking trails lead through the area. The trails range in
length from one-quarter to 18 miles. Trail guides are
available at the Kirby and Sundew nature trails, with
trail maps at other trailheads. The Kirby Trail is
located near the Information Station. The Sundew and
Pitcher Plant nature trails are accessible to
wheelchairs. All terrain bicycles and horses are
permitted only on the Big Sandy Trail. Backcountry
camping is permitted in some of the units, although no
developed campgrounds are available. Permits for
overnight hikes may be obtained at the Information
Station. A guided pontoon boat tour is available, with a
fee charged for each person taking the tour. There is no
other entrance fee in the preserve.