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Vintage station wagon.

Roadside America Museum Opens

On Saturday, September 29, 2007, the Roadside America Museum opened in Hillsboro, Texas. It has nothing to do with this Roadside America, or with this Roadside America. Owner and founder Carroll Estes chose the name simply because he liked it.

"I went through a whole lotta different names trying to find one for this place," he told us. "Nostalgia, memorabilia -- I didn't want to use big words like that."

Carroll's museum grew out of his collection of road culture cast-offs from the 1940s and 1950s, and from his work as one of Texas's top classic car reconditioners, and from his love of Grapette soda, which was his favorite liquid as a kid. "The first thing that I bought was a Grapette picnic chest at a swap meet in 1982," he told us. "From that it grew into a full-blown obsession."

Displays at the Roadside America museum.

The Roadside America Museum is filled with what Carroll describes as "anything that takes people back to a simpler and slower-paced lifetime." The displays include pedal cars; neon signs; jukeboxes; vending machines; advertising icons from places like Hamm's, Piggly-Wiggly, and Big Boy; lots of Grapette stuff, of course; and even a couple of restored classic cars, since this building was an old Ford dealership before Carroll began remodeling it in 2005. "I live here in the museum," he told us. "Couldn't be better for my lifestyle. Suits me perfectly. I'm single, so I don't have a woman that I have to approve all this stuff with."

Although the Museum is officially open, Carroll concedes that "I'll never be done with it" and asks that visitors call first, since he might be out of earshot of the front door, working on a project, and the building could be locked. He's only 57, and plans to spend the rest of his days improving his Museum. "I hope I got a few years left to enjoy this," he told us. "I'm real happy here."

212 E. Elm St., Hillsboro, TX
I-35 exit 368A, then west into town on Hwy 286/Country Club Rd, which turns into Franklin St. Turn left onto Church St. for one block, then left onto Elm St.
Best to call first, but usually open 10-6. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Adults $10.
RA Rates:
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