North Texas

North Texas Section

NTX Section Rode on the Texas State Railroad

NTX Section Rode on the Texas State Railroad

North Texas
Saturday, June 15, 2019 - 7:30am

A vintage diesel locomotive took 24 NTX members and 225 other passengers across the celebrated rails of the Piney Woods Route between the quaint East Texas towns of Palestine and Rusk on a 50-mile roundtrip adventure.

This quintessential daytrip, only a few hours from the metropolitan communities of Dallas and Houston, created a memory that will last a lifetime.

In 1881 prisoners from the East Texas Penitentiary built 1.3 miles of railroad track. In 1909, the final ties were laid, connecting Rusk with Palestine.

Over a century later, the Texas State Railroad whisks passengers back in time to when steam locomotives were king and diesel power was in its infancy. Each season, with the spring blooms of Dogwoods or the autumn red of Sumacs, is more sensational because it’s viewed from a train. Passengers aboard comfortable early-1900 coaches, hosted by friendly and informative attendants, travel along gently rolling hills passing over 24 bridges … one over 1,000 feet long. Unusual railroad structures, such as the locomotive turntable located midway, dot the historic route.

Music and points of interest complimented the scenic excursion. The 4-hour train ride, including an hour layover, was just part of the journey. Passengers had time to savor both the Rusk and Palestine depots which have upscale gift shops and historical story boards. The railroad has a beautiful park at each end of the excursion route. The Rusk depot has a vintage movie theater and overnight camping accommodations offering an experience few can boast – watching a locomotive engine run right through the campground.

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