Texas State Railroad

The Texas State Railroad, founded in 1881, is truly a Texas treasure. The railroad, which runs 25 miles from the Rusk Depot to the Palestine Depot, began as a short-haul freight line built and maintained by prison labor from the Rusk Penitentiary. July 4, 1976, in conjunction with the state's Bicentennial Celebration, the Texas State Railroad became a historic passenger train, run by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. In 1981 the railroad acquired an 1890's era turntable. This vintage piece of equipment is used today in demonstrations to school children as part of an educational field trip about railroading and the Texas State Railroad. In 2003 the Texas Legislature gave the Texas State Railroad the designation of The Official Railroad of Texas. In 2007, management of the railroad was privatized, and it was run by American Heritage Railways until August 2012, when Chicago-based Iowa Pacific Holdings took over. The Texas State Railroad currently has the only steam engines operating in the state of Texas. Each year tens of thousands of people from all over the country and even the world ride the Texas State Railroad on either a Piney Woods Steam Excursion or one of the numerous special events held throughout the year. Those include dinner trains, children's events, a Rail Fan Photographer's Special and the Memorial Day Salute to the Armed Forces. For more information and schedules, go to www.TexasStateRR.com or call 903-683-3093.