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HIDDEN GEM: Johnny Nelson Katy Heritage Museum

The museum, which highlights Katy's origins as a rice farming community, is free to the public.

KATY, Texas — Katy is a booming suburb with a rich history of its own and at the Johnny Nelson Katy Heritage Museum, pieces of that history are on display. Checking them out is free for anyone who wants to learn. 

"The people who lived here had their own interesting stories that are worthy of preserving and telling, just as much as you might see downtown in the Museum District of Houston," shared Joshua Garland, the City of Katy's museum coordinator. 

The community, he explained, was focused on farming for most of its history.

"The big crop here was rice. Rice was introduced to Katy around 1901 by a German immigrant," Garland said. "It took off in the 1920s and reached a peak of about 60,000 acres under cultivation grown by about 300 rice farmers. That began to decline as Katy became a desirable place to live for people commuting to Houston."

You can find the tools and equipment those farmers used at the museum, including 14 historic tractors.

"We have a collection of historic cars as well. We have a couple of Ford Model Ts. We have three of them, although only two of them are in the museum right now," said Garland, pointing out that the cars actually run. "These are being restored by the city’s fleet department, they’re the ones who take care of all the city vehicles."

Museum volunteers also restored and expanded a model train set depicting early life in Katy.

"I think it gives them a sense of continuity. You can see how things used to be and how that led to the way things are now," Garland said. "You can see all through the museum here how technology has progressed, how the ways people lived progressed and how our modern culture was formed."

From phone switchboards and phone books to antique cash registers and check writers, the museum’s collection includes too many items to display all at once, so you’ll always have incentive to return.

"We want to make sure people coming in have new things to see every time," said Garland.

For more information about the Johnny Nelson Katy Heritage Museum, click here.

Content sponsored by Dairy Queen.

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