For many of us who come from other parts of the country or even elsewhere around the world, one of the most frequently asked questions about grad life here is where to go and what to do for a day trip so that we can escape the small academic world of Bryan/College Station once in a while. The Texan towns around us, is usually the answer.
Last weekend, me and some of my fellow grad student friends drove to Hearne, Texas, a historic town 20-minute to the northwest of Bryan, for a day break from research and summer anxiety. First thing first, we enjoyed a basket of ribs and steak at a local restaurant along the farm road, which ranks as the Top 50 BBQs in Texas.
Then, as nerdy as us, we spent the rest of our day visiting a museum and a local historic site. Camp Hearne is a World War II Prisoner of War camp in northwest Hearne. It hosted more than 4000 POWs (mainly Hitler’s Afrika Korps led by “the Desert Fox” Erwin Rommel) from 1942 to 1946 (more people than the residents of Hearne at the time), and the camp was set up and operated according to the Geneva Convention, which required the treatment of POWs to be as the same living standard for the country’s own combat forces. The camp was abandoned after the POWs were shipped back to Europe, and the land was sold to the city. Later in the 1990s, a team of Texas A&M archeologists excavated the site and now it has an exhibition hall and a visitor center (thanks to my committee member from the Recreation, Park, and Tourism Sciences department), where many Texas A&M humanities courses hold their field trips.
The second site we visited is the Southern Pacific Railroad depot in downtown Hearne. The city’s more than 150 years of history is closely related to the development of railroad. As the crossroad of railroads and highways in central Texas, businesses and industries were set up, and the town flourished as a transportation hub. Nowadays, the historic depot hosts exhibitions on the railways across Robertson County and the surrounding area. One thing stands out immediately to us Aggies is an old painting of the former “College Station” depot, during the time when our institution was still called “the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas”.
Many of the small Texan towns around here have very interesting historic and cultural sites for us to explore. Next time when you are tired of Bryan/College Station for whatever reason, try visit these hidden treasures for a day trip. I bet you will learn more than expected and enjoy your time with friends!
Mingqian Liu | Architecture
is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Department of Architecture.