Heritage, Volume 7, Number 2, Spring 1989 Page: 12
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T*E*X*-A.*S S.T.A.T.E R.A.I.L.R.O.A.D
Whooo .. . Whooo Weeee!
By Charlie Maple
v ~ ~~~ OAShivers run up and down your spine as
that ancient call to adventure echoes
through the East Texas Piney Woods near
Rusk and Palestine, Texas.
3 _ _,~ lWith a swoosh of steam and the special
call only a steam whistle can issue, ancient
locomotives usher visitors into a nostalgic
time machine that takes them from the
frenzied rush of the modern world to a
_~ l ~~ ;I i slower pace of bygone times.
This unique park nestled in the rolling
hills of East Texas offers an opportunity to
lean back, relax and enjoy an experience
reminiscent of America's early days. It was
a time when hissing steam and the mournful
wail of the whistle promised adventure
and excitement waiting just beyond the
The Texas State Railroad Historical
Park, a division of the Texas Parks and
Wildlife Department, is devoted to giving
visitors a taste of travel as it was during the
"Golden Age of Steam." That was a period
in America's history when the iron horse
was the ultimate in travel...the original
_7Z ! r 1 1[_ mi~~~~"leave the driving to us" guys.
The park operates three veteran steam
locomotives that pull its scarlet, gold and
black coaches over the 25-mile long ribbons
of steel between Rusk and Palestine.
This makes it a 50-mile round trip, with
trains leaving simultaneously from each
Although both depots were designed to
reflect the 1920s era, they are different and
unique. The Palestine depot is a Victorianstyle
wood structure located about 3'/2
miles east of that East Texas community.
The Rusk depot is of similar architecture,
but is built principally of native iron ore
stone. It is located about 21/2 miles west of
Rusk on U.S. Highway 84. Picnic areas are
located near both sites.
The Texas State Railroad has a long and
checkered history. It came on the scene in
1896 to haul iron ore from nearby mines to
TOP: The Texas State Railroad trains cross some 25 bridges of all lengths and sizes during the the East Texas Penitentiary at Rusk. The
scheduled runs. Many of the bridges date from the late 1800s when the first five miles of line were built. prison's principal industry was an iron
BOTTOM: A pre-departure tour of the locomotive. smelter.
All photographs are courtesy of the Texas State Railroad.
12 HERITAGE * SPRING 1989
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 7, Number 2, Spring 1989, periodical, Spring 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45432/m1/12/: accessed December 13, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.