Location: 35222 Hempstead Hwy, Hockley, TX 77447, USA
In March of 2015 we attended the Texas Pinball Festival in Frisco, but the day before the show opened we headed 250 miles south to visit Dan Ferguson who runs the Lone Star Pinball Association and owns the most amazing collection of pinball machines, pinball memorabilia, promotional items, coin-op games, beer trays, trade stimulators, and much more.
His collection is spread across a number of unassuming buildings in the town of Hockley, around 40 miles northwest of Houston. Together they form the Lone Star Pinball Museum, with Dan as the curator.
This is not a conventional museum by any stretch of the imagination. There are no information cards or signs to guide you around the collection, no themed exhibitions and no scheduled talks. Instead, Dan is your guide, and nobody knows the history and significance of each item better than him.
As soon as you walk through the door you are overwhelmed by the eclectic mix of games, signs, lamps, neons, cardboard cut-outs, artwork, flags and posters covering almost every inch of the floor, walls and ceiling.
In keeping with the name of the Museum and the nickname of the state, there are numerous promotional pieces for Lone Star beer, the 'National Beer of Texas".
Walk from the lobby and the next room is all pinball. Dan's collection is mainly EM and solid state, but there are a few dot matrix games scattered around too.
Opposite those games is a row of electromechanical machines. There are actually many more machines than are immediately visible, as behind each game is another, standing on end.
Continuing deeper inside the Museum and we come to a larger room which is also dedicated to pinballs of all shapes and sizes.
Another room features pinball's early years, taking us from the days before the introduction of flippers through to the earliest flipper machines.
Walk into the next room and we're onto table-top games, trade stimulators and toy vehicles.
At the other end of the room is a kind of shrine to Elvira, featuring numerous Elvira-branded items and Elvira artwork.
As you can see, the Museum is jam packed with all kinds of paraphernalia, but when you run out of space, the only way is up. So Dan showed us all the extra pinball playfields and cabinets he has stored in the loft.
It is clear that Dan is a compulsive collector, perhaps even a hoarder, but the result is a fascinating collection of machines, novelties and related memorabilia which he is only too happy to show you and relate the many stories of how he came by each one.
Visits to the Museum are by appointment only, but if you're in the southern Texas area (or don't mind a three-hour car journey from Dallas) it's certainly worth taking some time to visit. It's both educational and great fun to explore the collection and play many of the games.
You can get contact and address details on the Museum's web page.
In the meantime, you can take out ten-minute video tour of the Museum, as Dan shows us around.
Many thanks to Dan for his hospitality and generosity during our visit.
© Pinball News 2015