The Texas State Railroad was first created back in 1881 when prisoners from the East Texas Penitentiary first started laying down the track. The railroad was finished by the prison crew in 1909 by order of Governor Thomas Mitchell Campbell, a Rusk native. Today, the steam engine is still functioning, taking passengers from the Palestine Depot to the Rusk Depot and letting people get a glimpse of what life was like with railroads were the main form of American transportation.
What should you expect when you take your own train ride on the Official Railroad of Texas?
You can choose between a steam train or a diesel locomotive
The four hour round trip experience through the Piney Woods will take you 25 miles through East Texas. The trip will include one hour for lunch and shopping. Don't worry; the Concessions Car carries snacks and drinks (including alcoholic beverages for the 21+ crowd).
There are special events
Most importantly, the Polar Express experience happens every Christmas, allowing you get to experience a festive train ride just like the classic film and book. It's the perfect holiday treat for the whole family.
You'll learn about the steam locomotive's history and pop culture references
The ride will be full of information about the origins of the railroad, facts about the wildlife you'll see along the Piney Woods route and more. The railroad has also been used in many films and television shows, which will be shared onboard by the car attendants.
There are multiple seating options
With everything from a glass-top dome car that includes a complimentary champagne toast to a caboose for private parties, there's room for everyone. There are even an open-air coach and a locomotive ride-along. The ride along is a unique experience; Clad in protective gear; you're able to assist the engineer and conductor in the train's departure. It's a once in a lifetime experience!