Texas State Railroad - Horsepower That Won’t Give You Saddle Sores

Become immersed in the romance of train travel, linking two charming towns, Palestine and Rusk. is a destination hotspot that will traverse you along the historic iron rails of Texas, surrounded by beautiful pine and mixed oak forests. No wonder it’s called the Official State Railroad of Texas.

Texas State Railroad

Comfort and adventure await inside this rolling museum. From the moment one steps aboard a vintage 1920’s car, the excitement of being on the rails is exhilarating. This four-hour vividly, scenic ride includes comfortable seating, food and adult beverage service, and historic narration on a rail journey that whisks you back into another century. The route is flanked by a Victorian and Iron-Ore depot, each giving riders a glimpse of what it would have been like to catch a train in the golden age of rail travel.

In 1881, inmates incarcerated at the newly-opened East Texas Penitentiary north of Rusk, began laying the original narrow-gauge rails that originally transported natural resources and iron products throughout the local communities.  Today, this same rail passage is considered a traveler’s delight, providing picturesque views from train windows and train themed songs significant historical facts air throughout the train cars audio for all to enjoy.

Relaxed seating, thoughtful decor and friendly, responsive attendants add to the ambiance of the scenic journey. Most cars are climate-controlled, have restrooms and access to a concession car stocked with snacks and both kid-friendly and adult beverages. All seats have picture window views along the Piney Woods route, and narration and music highlight the trip. This train meets ADA requirements.

Six different accommodations are available to savor the Texas State Railroad experience:

  • The exclusive Caboose is designed for one party of 8 or fewer. Featuring comfortable, plush over-sized seats, cupola seating for a birds-eye view and private outdoor-viewing platforms, this is the ultimate secluded car. A personal valet pours a complimentary Champagne toast and serves freshly-prepared appetizers. Non-alcoholic drinks are included in the price. A choice of alcoholic beverages is available for purchase.
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  • Presidential class offers seating in nostalgic car #1511, featuring comfortable seats, intimate table service, large picture windows and access to a private outdoor-viewing platform. An attentive porter serves a complimentary toast upon boarding and freshly-prepared appetizers. A choice of non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages is available for purchase.  

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  • First Class an art-deco inspired Car #42 features comfortable couches and chairs, intimate table service and large picture windows. An attentive porter serves a complimentary Champagne or sparkling cider toast upon boarding and family-friendly snacks are included. A choice of non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages is available for purchase.
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  • The Deluxe Coach passage includes comfortable upholstered benches or chairs and table service by friendly and knowledgeable attendants, non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverage service at one’s seat, and access to an open-air car.
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  • Open-air Coach includes vintage wooden bench seats in cars with no windows so the East Texas air flows directly through the car. This accommodation is limited to certain seasons.
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  • Locomotive Ride-Along is a way to savor the day inside the cab of a steam or diesel locomotive where you’ll be seated between the engineer and conductor in one of the Railroad’s classic “Old Girls.” Advance reservations and a background check are required, and some clothing restrictions apply.

As the train moves through the undulating country of the Piney Woods, it crosses over 24 bridges that span the creeks flowing through the forestland, including 1,042 feet long and 35 feet high bridge over the renowned Neches River. This Piney Woods is home to over 100 species of birds that nest in the catalpa and sycamores or the many species of hardwoods and evergreens, including the fast-growing loblolly pine, which can rise to over 100 feet tall.

Celebrated steam or vintage diesel locomotives are the muscle that pulls the consist of cars … and the horsepower that won’t give you saddle sores.

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A vintage diesel and a historic steam locomotive are both eye candy to the train enthusiasts. During the spring of 2018, Texas State Railroad placed into service this restored FP9 streamlined passenger unit, TSR No. 125.  The addition of this classic diesel locomotive to the Railroad’s fleet culminates a five-year effort initiated by the Texas State Rail Authority and completed by The Western Group. Both entities are enthusiastic about finalizing the restoration of this period diesel which complements the Railroad’s notable roster of steam engines.

texas state railroad

The TSR Steam Engine No. 28 has a unique history of it’s own. It is one of two surviving U.S. Army’s “Pershing” engines named after General John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing; famous as the commander of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) on the Western Front from 1917-18 during World War I. The steamer is a 2-8-0 (2 wheels in the front, 8 drivers, no wheels at the rear of the engine). The wheel arrangement is commonly referred to as a “consolidation.”

From its humble origin of hauling freight, lumber and munitions, it was brought to Texas State Railroad in 1976 to begin its present occupation of transporting tourists and railfans of all ages. The historic U.S. Army locomotive celebrated its 100th birthday in 2017.
These two are beauties that perk interest from around the globe!

Whether departing from Palestine or Rusk, you will enjoy learning about the historic surroundings and communities that built the railroad. Both depots have interesting storyboards to peruse that display the historic significance of the rise of railroading in East Texas. While inside either depot, a gift shop is available for memorabilia, clothing and gifts exclusive to Texas State Railroad.
Overnight lodging is only a short distance away for camping or hotel comfort stays. Texas State Railroad’s Rusk depot offers a unique campground nearby providing front row observance of a train passing through. Campers have access to depot amenities which include lunch, gift shop and a train-themed movie theater on train departure days. Also available is a laundry facility, camping supply store. A quaint country chapel and furnished clubhouse are available with reservations.

Looking to enjoy this awesome destination? Reservations can be made by visiting www.TexasStateRailroad.net or calling 1-855-632-7729.  It’s always a good day to ride a train!

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