The Texas State Railroad runs between Rusk and Palestine and is like a walk back in time. The Victorian style depots at both ends of the line and interesting exhibits make you feel as if you stepped back into an age long-gone. The track’s forest surroundings are lovely, and when we took the train with a large homeschool group in March of 2004, we enjoyed seeing the spring dogwood blossoms along the way. The trip between depots takes between 11 AM and 3:30 PM with a nice layover for lunch in-between with picnic areas and lovely scenery in the shade of tall pines. Interestingly, there have been many movies and television shows filmed there… and during the tour, your guide talks about the engine itself. The steam engine we rode on was an actual World War II locomotive steam engine that was used to deploy troops as well as to transport prisoners to death camps.
Here’s a snip from the railroad’s website:
“Train Stations and Railroad Stores The depots located in Rusk and Palestine reflect the architecture of the early 20th century. The station offers historical exhibits, pictures, and displays. Each depot has a Railroad Store offering unique gifts, nostalgic keepsakes, and educational toys. Food service is also offered at each station. Sandwiches, chips, drinks, and ice cream are available during each day of operation.”
“State Park camping and picnicking facilities are adjacent to both depots. The park at Rusk offers shaded picnic tables, a scenic 15-acre lake, group picnic pavilions, and full hookup camping. The Palestine park has shaded picnic tables and water-only camping sites. For information on camping or pavilion rentals, contact the Rusk/Palestine State Park (903) 683-5126 or Park Information at 1-800/792-1112.”
This particular Field Trip Foto Friday couldn’t have come at a better time. It seems the Texas State Railroad is suffering under recent funding cuts from the Texas Legislature. The tracks in the deep Texas piney woods may finally fall silent after so many years of chug-chug-chugging. This is very sad news indeed. If you are a train lover, a history lover, or just a Texas lover… I urge you to contact your representatives today and join up for the Friends of the Texas State Railroad to help keep this Victorian beauty steaming along.
“Smokestack on his back! Chug-Chug-Chug! Coming down the track! Chug-Chug-Chug! Little red caboose behind the train! Toot-Toot!”