Texas State Railroad is in the eastern part of Texas and runs
for approximately 25 miles on an east/west route that takes
you in completely refurbished coaches from 4 miles east of the
city of Palestine to Rusk. Along the way, you cross the
Neches River on a 1,115 foot wooden trestle, then pass by many
small settlements, as well as railroad maintenance facilities.
power on this small tourist railroad consists of 4 steam
locomotives and 2 diesels.
steam locomotives include:
-- Cooke 71 Ton 1896 4-6-0; arrived on the property in
-- Cooke 1901 79 Ton 4-6-0; arrived on property also in
-- Baldwin 1917 83 Ton 2-8-0; arrived in 1976
-- Baldwin 1917 88 Ton 2-8-2; arrived in 1974
Railroad had an interesting history in that it started out in
1896 as a railroad built by Texas State Convicts from the
Penitentiary in Rusk, where a smelter was located to an ore
mine. Yes, Texas had iron ore! Pig Iron was smelted at
Rusk at “Old Alcalde” using the old smelting processes.
By 1907, the railroad was extended to connect the
International Great Northern Railroad and the Cotton Best.
As the Iron industry refined ways of making iron, “Old
Alcalde” did not keep up, and it was closed down in 1913.
By 1917 the Penitentiary at Rusk was turned into a mental
hospital, and in 1921 the old iron furnace was sold and torn
down. The railroad operated for years afterwards at a
heavy loss and was finally fell into disrepair. Attempts
to rebuild it lasted until 1921 when the motive power, cars
were sold off. The Texas & New Orleans continued to
lease the railroad for 41 years and upgraded the right of way
and the structures. By the great depression, the road
again became unprofitable. The Texas State Railroad was
connected to the TN&O by an 8-mile connecting track.
This was abandoned in 1934, leaving
the Texas State Railroad served only by the St.
Louis-Southwestern Railroad connecting at Rusk. By 1962,
service on the railroad had dwindled down to infrequent weekly
runs. The line proved unprofitable and in 1962 the Southern
Pacific Railroad did not renew the lease.
in the preservation and of the Iron Horse in Texas reached a
height by October 1977 when Governor Briscoe dedicated the
Palestine Deport Complex with approval for construction and
renovation of the T.S.R.R. In 1979, the railroad was opened
for tourists from the Rusk depot to Palestine.
Morris, J. D. (1979). Texas State Railroad: Scenic Realm of
the Iron Horse, Austin, TX: Branch Line Graphics of Texas.