Historic Grapevine, Texas
By Cody Jolliff, Manager of Heritage Museums & Educations Programs
Grapevine, Texas, centrally located between Dallas and Fort Worth is home to many historic experiences. Museums, historic sites, a vintage railroad and much more make for a family-friendly destination topped off by a stay at a world-class resort or hotel.
Grapevine was settled in 1844 and so named for the wild mustang grapes that grew across the rich black soil of the Grape Vine Prairie. The land supported farmers from early subsistence farming, to the Post-Civil War era cotton production and on to produce farming and dairy industry well into the 20th century. Grapevine’s rich culture and agrarian heritage are preserved today with several museums and historic attractions from early 19th century log structures to the roaring locomotives of the railroad.
Nash Farm, Tarrant County’s oldest operating farmstead, is featured just a few blocks from Historic Main Street. The Farm is open daily and features living history activities focused on the late 19th century history of the farm. Heirloom varieties of vegetables can be found in the kitchen garden as well as field crops of cotton, wheat and corn. The Farm raises heritage livestock including Gulf Coast Native Sheep, Kentucky Red Bourbon Turkeys and Speckled Sussex Chickens.
Thomas Jefferson Nash and his wife Elisabeth purchased the Farm in 1859 with an established log cabin. The family raised a total of five daughters and a son. In 1869, they built the two-story green farmhouse that stands today. The Farmhouse has been restored and furnished for visitors to experience today with hands-on activities. The Nash Farm barn is also original to the site and is fully restored and functional in supporting the livestock operations. The grounds also include outbuildings, poultry houses, a windmill and a pole barn pavilion for special events. The farm also features a Farm Store, complete with souvenirs and replica items reminiscent of an old-fashioned general store.
Nash Farm hosts a wide variety of events and programs each year including family festivals, heritage workshops, farm suppers, vintage baseball, historic social events and more. Heritage workshops include skills and trades often found on the Grape Vine Prairie from hog butchering, sewing, food preservation, cooking and more. Events include hands-on family learning elements such as pie making, carpentry, gardening and much more.
Travel along Heritage Trail just two blocks from Nash Farm and you’ll find the beautiful Settlement to City Museums. The area includes five structures detailing the story of Grapevine. The 1888 Keeling House was the family home of the owner of the long-running Grapevine Sun Newspaper. The museum inside the home chronicles how Grapevine developed from a pioneer settlement into a world-class city and visitor destination. Guests will also discover a working 1881 Chandler & Price printing press and even try their hand at printing with living historians.
Step back to a simpler time inside the Donald Schoolhouse. You can have a seat at a desk for a lesson or dismiss class with the school bell. Head over next door to learn about Grapevine’s rich cotton production in the late 19th century at the Cotton Ginners Museum. Guests can view a restored E. Van Winkle Gin. The Grapevine Historical Society’s collection is presented through first-rate exhibits inside the replica ice house belonging to the Grapevine Ice Company.
Just across Main Street you’ll enter the Cotton Belt Railroad District home to the Grapevine Vintage Railroad (GVRR). The 1888 Cotton Belt Depot welcomes you to an excursion onboard the GVRR Victorian-style coaches. Powering the railroad are four locomotives including three mid-century diesel-electric locomotives and “Puffy,” an 1896 steam locomotive. GVRR operates on the weekends throughout the year with excursions to the Historic Stockyards Station in Fort Worth as well as special events throughout the year from Jazz Wine Trains to the famed North Pole Express®.
The Railroad district is also home to working artist studios and other historic museums. Studios include glassblowing, a bronze foundry and other traditional arts. Historic museum shops include the Grapevine Tin Shop at the Bragg House and Millican’s Blacksmith Shop. The area also features a four-crib log barn and the Cotton Belt Route Section Foreman House adjacent to the GVRR platform. The exhibit “Aprons of the Past: Skills & Trades on the Grape Vine Prairie” is presented throughout the museums.
ABOUT GRAPEVINE, TEXAS
Historic Grapevine, Texas, centrally located between Dallas and Fort Worth, is the premiere go-to destination when planning a getaway or vacation in North Texas! Step back in time on Historic Main Street with a collection of charming boutiques, art galleries and bistros and cafes. Enjoy fantastic hotels and resorts, great attractions for the entire family, a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities, exquisite winery tasting rooms, world-class shopping and much more. For more information, visit www.GrapevineTexasUSA.com.