Heritage, Volume 7, Number 2, Spring 1989 Page: 14
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Locomotive No. 500, built in 1911, once plied the
flatlands of Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and
West Texas at speeds up to 96 miles per hour.
In addition to the boiler tests and stemto-stern
checks of the three locomotives,
work simultaneously moves forward on inspections
and repair of the 13 coaches used
to carry some 70,000 passengers each year.
Every set of wheels, couplers, windows,
seats and other items are thoroughly
checked to ensure visitors have a safe and
comfortable ride. And, of course, there are
always painting, floor work and restroom
repairs to be made during the off-season.
At the same time, work goes forward on
needed repairs and improvements at the
park's two depots. The Rusk Depot, located
adjacent to the park headquarters, houses a
small theatre featuring a pictorial history of
the railroad. Full and partial hook-up
camping is available at the Rusk/Palestine
State Park only a few yards from the Rusk
Depot. Information on that park may be
obtained by calling (214) 683-5126 or by
writing to Route 4, Box 431, Rusk, Texas
75785. A picnic park is located near the
Palestine Depot but overnight camping is
Close by are other points of interest for
the visitor, including Jim Hogg State Park,
which offers a picnic and playground area
in addition to a replica of Gov. Hogg's
Mountain Home on the east side of Rusk;
Caddoan Mounds State Park, offering a
look into the history of the Caddo Indian
Tribe that once roamed this area, and
Mission Tejas State Park, which provides a
glimpse at the area's early history through
its replica of the Rice Family Log Home
and of the Mission San Francisco de los
Tejas. The park also has a large group
picnic area and about a dozen camp sites.
Other nearby parks include Tyler State
Park, located eight miles north of Tyler on
FM 14; Martin Creek Lake State Recreation
Area, three miles southwest of Tatum
on U.S. Highway 43; and Fairfield Lake
State Recreation Area, which is six miles
northeast of Fairfield on FM 2570.
Countless historical sites are located in
Rusk and Palestine, and throughout Cherokee
and Anderson Counties.
Picnic sites are located near both stations.
Restrooms are provided in each station and
aboard trains. Concessions are open in
each station and aboard trains, offering
sandwiches, chips, drinks, ice cream and
souvenirs. An Interpretive Center at the
Rusk Depot offers a slide-tape show.
Special events during the season include
a series of short round trips in the
spring for school children. The youngsters
are given a taste of old-fashioned railroading
in late April and May with trips from
Rusk to Maydelle and return. It takes about
11/4 hours for the jaunt, which also allows
youngsters a chance to see the locomotive
turned on an air-operated turntable during
the Maydelle stop.
The "Moonlight Trips" also are staged
during the season to give passengers a mixture
of daylight, twilight and moonlight
train travel. Information on those trips, all
of which leave from Rusk at 6P.M., may be
obtained by calling the park headquarters
at (214) 683-2561 or 1(800) 442-8951 (in
Texas only). Telephones are staffed 8A.M.
to 5P.M. seven days a week from February
through October. The park is staffed 8A.M.
to 12 noon and 1-5P.M. Monday through
Friday during the other months of the year.
Although runs are suspended during the
winter months, things are far from quiet at
the park. The all-too-brief off-season is
devoted to a thousand and one maintenance
checks and repairs to get ready for the
opening the third weekend in March.
14 HERITAGE * SPRING 1989
Although this air-operated turntable originally was built in Oklahoma City, it was later moved to Paris,
Texas, and finally to the Texas State Railroad in 1980. It operates from the locomotive's air pump.
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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/m1/14/: accessed October 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.