Crossing the line
Here's a look at railroad crossing signals that have kept Central Texans safe for decades. Plus, a country gym class is beating its way to better health.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 27, 2021
Horse-drawn wagons gave way to a new kind of chariot, and these engine-powered beasts came with blaring music machines. The age of road distractions had arrived.
A WigWag train crossing signal stands on a rainy day at Temple's Railroad & Heritage Museum. WigWag is the nickname given to a type of railroad grade crossing signal once common in Temple and across North America, named for the pendulum-like motion it used to signal the approach of a train. David Stone photo
A signal for change: Cars and trains learn to safely share space
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
Temple was founded as a railway work camp and quickly evolved into a major train town, so crossing tracks has always been a part of life here.
In Temple’s early years, crossing gates and signals were not needed, said Justin Lambrecht of the National Train Museum. Trains moved through at a slow pace, and there were no cars competing for junction bragging rights. Trains were loud, and wagon drivers probably weren’t jamming to Van Halen or talking to friends on cellular devices.
Within a few years, however, the number of tracks cutting through Temple became more numerous and trains began to run faster. Horse-drawn wagons started to give way to a new kind of chariot, and these engine-powered beasts came with blaring music machines. The age of road distractions had arrived.
It wasn’t long before speeding cars and fast trains collided and the results were often catastrophic. About 7,800 Americans are hurt and more than 800 killed in an average year while crossing train tracks, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“It became obvious that safety warning signs and signals should be set up to protect those wanting to cross the tracks,” Lambrecht said.
In Temple, signs were posted at crossings, and at busier junctions at busy times a watchman stood guard to warn drivers and pedestrians of approaching trains.
Craig Ordner, a railroad archivist with Temple’s Railroad & Heritage Museum, said the watchmen served roles similar to today’s school crossing guards.
“Basically they held signs that warned motorists and pedestrians that a train was coming,” he said.
The duties of the Temple railroad guard would change, however, because a mechanical device soon arrived in the new but bustling city — the railroad crossing gate.
According to Lambrecht, the first U.S. patent for a crossing gate dates back to 1867 in Boston but was slow to arrive in the expanding West. These gates were hand-operated, which meant they had to be cranked up and down. Crank stations were built next to junctions and the gates were lowered or raised by chains running through underground piping from the crank station to each gate at the crossing.
The cost of manning every railroad crossing was expensive, and by the early 1900s the use of “cross buck” signs — the common “X” warning sign still in use today — became very common. This design was improved in the 1920s as vehicles became equipped with lights and night driving was common. Sign makers began using reflectors call Cataphones or “cat eyes” on cross bucks to make them more visible, Lambrecht said.
Cataphone reflectors were replaced with reflective buttons in the 1940s, and automatic railroad gates arrived at some Temple crossings in the 1950s. The automatic gates not only raised and lowered without a human cranker, they also were fitted with bells to provide an audio alert.
As Temple traffic increased, a passing train meant long lines of waiting cars. To speed things up a bit, viaducts were built on major thoroughfares to bypass the tracks. In some cities, underpasses were built to take roads — and vehicles — under the tracks. Temple opted for overpasses on roads like 31st Street, Adams, 3rd Street, Avenue H and Central.
Overpasses can present a big but fairly rare problem during extreme winters — icing. Of course 2021 was definitely an exception.
Elevating a street means cold air totally surrounds the bridged roadway and quickly freezes any moisture on the surface. Sand is used to provide traction during icy weather.
“There’s a lot of squats, lunges, arm raises, bending and twisting involved. You will know you have exercised.”
Gym class pounds its way to fitness
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
A country gym between Belton and Salado is offering a unique way to stay fit — cardio drumming.
“It’s definitely a whole-body workout,” said gym owner Ashley Navarro. “There’s a lot of squats, lunges, arm raises, bending and twisting involved. You will know you have exercised.”
The only equipment needed for cardio drumming are a pair of sticks, a yoga ball and a large bucket. The flexible ball sits atop the bucket and is ready for pounding.
Navarro has had her gym for about six years, but didn’t add cardio drumming until recently.
“We had 24 participants this week and we’re already sold out for next week,” she said. “I actually have a waiting list — we’ll be adding a second weekly class in a couple weeks.”
In addition to the second cardio drumming class, Navarro is also starting a similar class known as “Pound.”
Pound also uses drum sticks, but instead of striking a ball, participants hit the floor and their other stick.
“There’s a lot of ground work and core work involved with Pound,” Navarro said. “It’s pretty intense.”
After graduating from Salado High School in 2003, Navarro became a Certified Nurses Assistant and had a job taking care of elderly patients. She started to advance her career by going to nursing school, but had a change of heart.
“As a CNA, I was helping people, but I decided I wanted to help in a different way. So, I switched to personal training. I felt like I could help more people.”
Her gym — located behind her home on Smith Dairy Road — is equipped for personal training with a variety of free weights, treadmills and other cardio and strength equipment.
“What I do is one-on-one personal training,” she said. “I do have some open gym times, but primarily it’s just me and my customer. I also offer assistance with nutrition.”
Having only one customer in the gym at a time helped Navarro survive COVID shutdowns and the pandemic concerns.
Because personal training does come with a cost that can be significant, she decided to add classes.
“The classes are really good,” she said. “A lot of people workout multiple times per week, but they need something on those off days. So adding a $10 class gets people out to exercise on another day.”
Along with a second trainer, Katie Harris, and class instructor Kymra Dorre, Navarro Fitness offers more than 80 private and group sessions each week.
The classes are open to the public. For additional information, call or text Navarro at (254) 466-7772 or message Navarro Fitness and Training through Facebook.
Library to hold Labor Day Used Book Sale
The Friends of the Temple Public Library will hold the annual Labor Day Book Sale on. Aug. 31 through Sept. 4.
The sale will take place in the McLane Room on the third floor of the Temple Public Library, 101 W. Adams Ave.
A members’ preview day will be held from 2-6 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 31 for Friends of the Temple Public Library members. Memberships are available at the door. Regular sale hours will be:
Wednesday, Sept. 1, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 2, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 3, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 4, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
The Friends of the Temple Public Library is an organization that raises funds to support the Temple Public Library. The organization will be accepting used book donations during the sale.
For more information, visit exploretpl.com/booksale.
Partial lane closures for Old Waco Road
A portion of Old Waco Road will have alternating lane closures as crews repair the roadway.
Beginning Thursday, Sept. 2, one southbound lane between Tanglehead Drive and Cameron Park Road will be closed fromf 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. One south bound lane will always remain open. The work is expected to be finished Friday, Sept. 3.
Drivers should use caution in the area and pay attention to all traffic control devices.
As construction progresses, access will be maintained for all residents. Residents with inquiries about the project should reach out to the city of Temple Engineering Department at (254) 298-5660.
Fire Station No. 3 closed for mold abatement
Temple Fire & Rescue Station No. 3, 3606 Midway Drive, will be temporarily closed while the facility is treated for mold.
“For the safety of our crews and staff, personnel will temporally relocate to a nearby facility,” Temple Fire & Rescue Chief Mitch Randles said. “We don’t anticipate any significant impact to response times as a result of this relocation.”
Crews will be staged at the nearby Temple EMS station at 2986 S. Thornton Lane. While crews are relocated, the city will expedite some additional renovations that were scheduled for the building. Work should be completed in about three months.
What’s happening, Temple?
August 27, Friday - Executive Steel Band, Ras Kitchen, 17 S. Main, Temple, 7 p.m.
August 27, Friday - Craig Howell with Somewhere in Texas. Bo’s Barn Dance Hall. 8 p.m.
August 27, Friday - Karaoke Night at Corky’s. 8 p.m.
August 27, Friday - Megan Brucker & Charles Edward Ott, O’Briens Irish Pub. 9 p.m.
August 28, Saturday - Totally Rad 80’s Prom Gone Bad, A murder mystery. The Venue by Inn on the Creek, Salado. 6:30 p.m.
August 28, Saturday - Comedy Showcase, Corky’s, Show starts at 8 p.m.
August 28, Saturday - People’s Choice, Bo’s Barn Dance Hall. 9 p.m.
August 28, Saturday - Caftan at Fire Street Pizza in Belton. 6 p.m.
August 28, Saturday - Full STEAM Ahead! Learn about optical illusions and how to make them. Bell County Museum. 11 a.m.
August 29, Sunday - Margarita madness. Corky’s. 1-5 p.m.
September 2, Thursday - Ladies Night at Moe’s Rail Yard Saloon, downtown Temple. 7-11 p.m.
September 2, Thursday - Central Texas State Fair, Bell County Expo Center. Wade Bowen. 5 p.m. to midnight.
September 3, Friday - Central Texas State Fair, Pat Green. Twisted Metal Mayhem Derby. Bell County Expo Center. 5 p.m. to midnight.
September 4, Saturday - Central Texas State Fair, Flatland Calvary, Professional Bull Riding. Bell County Expo Center. 5 p.m. to midnight.
September 5, Sunday - Central Texas State Fair, Aaron Watson, Professional Bull Riding. Bell County Expo Center. 5 p.m. to midnight.
September 7, Tuesday - Interested in learning to dance, but not sure how to get started? Be our guest and join us for a sample class, professional performances, social dancing, and hors d’oeuvres. This is a great opportunity to get introduced to Arthur Murray in Temple and finding out more about what we have to offer! Open to the public, RSVP (254) 721-9524
September 11, Saturday - A Sami Show Arts & Crafts Market, Bell County Expo Center. 10 a.m.
September 11, Saturday - Weird Science. Explore different adaptations animals have made through presentations, fun games, and activities. Bell County Museum. 11 a.m.
September 11, Saturday - Pink Fishing’s Reeling in the Cure, 6th annual bass tournament. Proceeds benefit breast cancer patients and cancer research. Cedar Ridge Park. 6 a.m. Call (254) 681-0102 for details.
September 11, Saturday - 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb & Ceremony. Wildcat Stadium. 7-11 a.m.
September 11, Saturday - Rescue Magazine’s Pet Adoption Extravaganza. There will almost 400 Animals up for adoption and fun for the whole family. Bell County Expo Center. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
September 12, Sunday - A Sami Show Arts & Crafts Market, Bell County Expo Center. 10 a.m.
September 12, Sunday - Rescue Magazine’s Pet Adoption Extravaganza. There will almost 400 Animals up for adoption and fun for the whole family. Bell County Expo Center. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
September 15, Wednesday - Tiny Thinkers, Kids 5 years old and younger are invited to the museum to experience the State Fair! Bell County Museum. 10 a.m.
September 18, Saturday - Harvest Celebration. Bring your family and friends to enjoy grape stomping, food trucks, music, and wine. This is a ticketed event. 3 Texans Winery. 6 p.m.
September 25, Saturday - Fun at the Fair! Join us at the museum to for fun at the fair! View the newest exhibit and take part in fun activities - explore symmetry by decorating a popcorn bucket, build your own mini rollercoaster, race your family in duck races, and visit our petting zoo! Bell County Museum. 11 a.m.
September 25, Saturday - Dale Watson, Texas Music Series,Cultural Activities Center. 7:30 p.m.
September 30, Thursday - TLC’s Celebration of Crazy, Sexy Cool with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Bell County Expo Center. 7:30 p.m.
September 30, Thursday - Funniest Comic in Texas semi-finals. Corky’s.
October 8, Friday - Painting with a Twist, 3 Texans Winery. 6:30 p.m.
October 9, Saturday - Shinyribs, Texas Music Series,Cultural Activities Center. 7:30 p.m.
October 23, Saturday - Don Gregory Memorial Lions Club Golf Tournament. Sammons Golf Course. Contact Jeffrey Thigpen Thigpen.firstname.lastname@example.org to register or for sponsorship opportunities. 4-person scramble begins at 8:30 a.m.
November 6, Saturday - Chris Hillman, Texas Music Series,Cultural Activities Center. 7:30 p.m.
November 13, Saturday - Market in the Vines. Take a walk through the vines and shop with over 50 vendors! Free to the public. 3 Texans Winery. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Have an event you would like to promote? Email info to OurTownTemple@gmail.com with “What’s Happening” in the subject line. Keep it short and sweet — what, when and where. You may include a short description. You must include a phone number for verification purposes. The phone number will not be published unless requested by submitter.
Welcome to The Story Diner: Have a heapin’ helping of creativity. This space is for local poets, very short-story writers, photographers, artists … show us your mad skills! Remember, space is limited so no novels please. Send your work to email@example.com. Please put Story Diner in the subject field. Here’s a couple photos to get things going!
Pete the Pelican stands guard to the Intercoastal Waterway entrance at Port Aransas. David Stone photo
A pelican takes a break from fishing at the Port Aransas Marina. David Stone photo