Ride on this Piney Woods Steam Train Excursion from Rusk and enjoy a scenic journey on the official railroad of Texas.
This round-trip excursion on a historic steam engine departs from Rusk, which is about 2 hours and 19 minutes from Dallas (131 miles), 2 hours and 42 minutes from Houston (161 miles), and 1 hour and 56 minutes from Shreveport, Louisiana (108 miles).
During the train ride, the announcer will point out significant areas while piecing the history of the railroad together. There will be a layover for about 1 hour and 30 minutes, where you will have the option to enjoy a boxed lunch (available for pre-order at an additional cost) or your own lunch if you decide to bring one.
Beverages and snacks are available for purchase in the concession car.
So join this relaxing journey and help this important piece of Texas heritage, by taking a ride on the Texas State Railroad, truly a "Texas Treasure!"
4 hours and 30 minutes
11:00 am Friday & Saturday (April & May
11:00 am Thursday, Friday & Saturday (June & July)
11:00 am Friday & Saturday (August & September)
Texas State Railroad History
The Texas State Railroad is not only a "Texas Treasure," it is the official Railroad of Texas. The Texas state prison system established the railroad in 1881. Inmates built the line, which was used to transport hardwood which was used as fuel for the furnaces at the prison-operated iron smelter at the Rusk Penitentiary. The furnace supplied the State of Texas with iron products, including the columns and dome structure for the capitol building in Austin. The original construction was a narrow gauge line but was later built in standard gauge in order to join into the main line.
In 1906 prison crews extended the rail line to Maydelle, and in 1909, reached their final destination of Palestine. Once the train line was completed into Palestine, the line was easily accessible to the main lines and commerce in and around the area flourished. In 1913 the prison ceased operations of the iron furnace and the Penitentiary was converted into the state mental hospital. In 1921 the regular rail service was discontinued until the Texas Southeastern Railroad leased the line in the early 1960s, and continued operation of the line until 1969.
The railroad was conveyed to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1972 and state inmates were again brought in to help with the creation of the state historical park. The park and railroad were opened to the public on July 4th, 1976, as part of the nation's Bicentennial Celebration.
Maydelle Turntable - In 1981, the Texas State Railroad acquired a turntable and installed it in Maydelle. This vintage piece of equipment is used to turn the engines around to go in a different direction. It was built in the late 1890s by the St. Louis and San Francisco (Frisco) Railroad on site at their Paris, Texas rail yard. It began operation in Paris in 1902, serving a six stall roundhouse.
The Texas State Railroad is proud to possess this rare example of railroad technology and to be able to demonstrate, during special train rides, what was done routinely so many decades ago in rail yards across our nation. In 2003 Texas State Representative Chuck Hopson lead the way in proclaiming a resolution from the 78th Legislature of the State of Texas, designating the Texas State Railroad as the Official Railroad of Texas.
Lone Star Seating
Tables seat four individuals. Options to sit at private table may be possible for an additional cost by calling in advance of your scheduled trip, based on availability (contact information will be specified on your E-Ticket).
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the tour handicap accessible? -- The Lone Star Seating - Family car can be boarded by ramp. Please mention your specific needs on your order form.
Are there restrooms on the train? -- Yes, there is a restroom in almost every car on the train.
Are pets allowed on the train? -- No, pets are not allowed on the train. The only exception is if you have a certified Service Animal.
Are the seats assigned? -- Yes, Lone Star Seating - Family and Adult cars do have assigned seating, which is four to a table.
Do children two years old or younger need a ticket? -- Everyone needs a ticket in order to board the train. However, children ages 2 and under do not have to pay for their ride as they are considered lap riders (please note lunches are not included with their tickets).
Can I bring a cooler with snacks and my own food? -- Yes, you are more than welcome to bring snacks and your own food. However, it must be in a bag or cooler that will fit underneath the train seat. The container cannot be in the aisle or on a seat. Your can also purchase the add-on boxed lunch, where you can choose one of the lunch selections noted above on your order form.
48 Hours Minimum Advance Booking Required. Tour does not include hotel pickup.
There are no refunds. All sales are final.
If changes are allowed on a tour or activity, a $20.00 per reservation change fee will be applied for any change to a reservation. Please note that some tours and activities do not allow any changes. Date changes can only be made only if we can confirm availability on the new date. While we cannot guarantee any changes can be made, all change requests must be submitted a minimum of 24 hours prior to the tour departure and must be handled on an individual basis through our Reservations Center.
Ride on this Piney Woods Steam Train Excursion from Rusk and enjoy a scenic journey on the official railroad of Texas. Get tickets for tours and shows in Dallas, Texas. Reserve tickets online and save or call us toll free at 888-828-8834 for reservations, group tour bookings, and private charter services.
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