It’s a shame that trains aren’t used for traveling all that much in Texas anymore. Just imagine. The view out the window: dense forests, scenic rivers, and all the native wildlife that roam the rolling Texas landscape – all while the engine barrels through the country side. This season, you can get a taste of that experience aboard the Texas State Railroad in Palestine.
Located three or so hours from Houston, the Texas State Railroad has been chugging along for over a century between the towns of Palestine and Rusk. The railroad was built in 1881, by the inmates at the nearby Rusk Penitentiary. Primarily used for the transportation of passengers and goods, the railroad would later open in 1976 as a tourist line.
Today, the locomotive continues to make scenic tours between the two towns. Proclaiming itself as “the official railroad of Texas” the Texas State Railroad features a variety of different excursions throughout the year.
From March until November, the railway features their Piney Woods Train Excursion. The four-hour voyage that departs from Palestine and whisks passengers through the scenic East Texas countryside. During the excursion, passengers can catch a glimpse of two historic steam engines switching tracks and passing each other at different points over the course of the journey. Here, passengers can bring their own food, or if desired, order a box lunch in advance. Additionally, the train stop in Rusk allows visitors the chance to walk around and enjoy the area before returning back to Palestine.
Both half-way and one-way tickets are also available for the experience.
As for the rest of the year, the Texas State Railroad offers themed trips, brunch and dinner rides, holiday tours, as well as its wildly popular THE POLAR EXPRESS Train Ride during the holidays.
The Palestine Depot is located at 789 Park Road 70; Rusk Depot at 535 Park Road 76. Tickets start at $25 for adults, $20 for children 2 – 12, and $80 for adults with a child under one year.