Date: 4th January, 2016
strong>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.

Dan Ferguson outside the Lone Star Pinball Museum
Dan Ferguson outside the Lone Star Pinball Museum

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.

The right side of the entrance lobby
The right side of the entrance lobby
Woodrail games
Woodrail games
This Spectra IV has a rotating playfield
This Spectra IV has a rotating playfield

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”.

The left side of the entrance lobby
The left side of the entrance lobby
More from the lobby area
More from the lobby area

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.

There's definitely a theme here, with Cue Ball Wizard, Break Shot and Pool Sharks
There’s definitely a theme here, with Cue Ball Wizard, Break Shot and Pool Sharks

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.

More pool games in this row of E-M machines
More pool games in this row of E-M machines
More machines are stored behind
More machines are stored behind

Continuing deeper inside the Museum and we come to a larger room which is also dedicated to pinballs of all shapes and sizes.

DMD, solid state and electromechanical pinballs
DMD, solid state and electromechanical pinballs
Original, II, Classic and Home versions of Fireball
Original, II, Classic and Home versions of Fireball
From a miniature game to the largest
From a small game to the largest
Some classic '80s solid-state games
Some classic ’80s solid-state games
Wall decorations
Wall decorations
One interloper in a row of EM games
One interloper in a row of EM games
More machines behind
More machines stacked behind
A War head-to-head cocktail game
A War head-to-head cocktail game

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.

Into the next room
Into the next room
Assorted tabletop games
Assorted table-top mechanical games
More games
More games
And more
And more
Slots, videos and more coin-operated amusements
Slots, videos and more coin-operated amusements
Bar memorabilia
Bar memorabilia
Stereopticons and mutoscopes
Stereopticons and mutoscopes
Works-in-progress
The next room has some works-in-progress
Expressway and The Flintstones
Expressway and The Flintstones
Genco's Sky Gunner
Genco’s Sky Gunner

At the other end of the room is a kind of shrine to Elvira, featuring numerous Elvira-branded items and Elvira artwork.

The Elvira zone
The Elvira zone
More Elvira and other pinball artwork
More Elvira and other pinball artwork
Heading back to the entrance lobby we have more beer collectables
Heading back to the entrance lobby we have more beer collectables
A side corridor features Dan's collection of bar drinks trays
A side corridor features Dan’s collection of bar drinks trays
Down the corridor is the rest room, and even that is pinball-themed
Down the corridor is the rest room, and even that is pinball-themed
Another side room is a store for backglasses
Another side room is a store for backglasses
Back to the entrance lobby
Back to the entrance lobby

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.

Up in the loft
Up in the loft
More pinball parts wherever you look
More pinball parts wherever you look

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.

Dan outside the Museum
Dan outside the Museum

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.

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