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Take a ride on the Texas State Railroad, a historic railroad that offers both steam and diesel locomotive excursions.

Hop on a train at depots in the cities of Palestine or Rusk. This 50-mile round trip adventure, known as the Piney Woods Route, will take you on a scenic ride through the piney woods of East Texas.

Credit: Roy Luck
Texas State Railroad

This relaxing day trip is perfect for visitors to both Houston and Dallas, since the depots are only a few hours from both cities.

Although the Texas State Railroad train route is beautiful year round, visitors find that spring and fall are two of the most scenic times. The dogwood trees in spring create a splash of vibrant color, while the sumac plants in fall add a burst of red to the landscape. The route crosses 24 bridges and rolling green hills. One bridge is even over 1,000 feet long.

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Credit: M&R Glasgow
Texas State Railroad Depot

This rail line’s construction started in 1881 from prisoners at the East Texas Penitentiary. The prisoners only built about 1.3 miles of track however. It wasn’t until 1909 when the entire length between Rusk and Palestine was finally completed. It truly is incredible to think that these century-old locomotives are still moving after so many years.

Credit: M&R Glasgow
View from rail car

The ride itself is both comfortable and accommodating. Passengers sit on early-1900 coaches and are treated with care by knowledgeable attendants. The Piney Woods Route on the Texas State Railroad is perfect for both families and couples.

Depending on when you decide to board the Texas State Railroad, there are various events and also evening dinners perfect for a romantic date night. There are a few seating options, from first class to open-air seating, and some do come with champagne and appetizers.

Now don’t think you’re on the go the entire route. Travelers on the route will have time to savor both depot cities, Rusk and Palestine. Do some light shopping, embrace the vintage railroad structures nearby or enjoy the parks near the depots. For travelers who love to camp, stay in Rusk where there is overnight camping, or catch a movie at the vintage movie theater.

The Texas State Railroad is a great opportunity to experience the early days when rail travel was popular. A ride on the Piney Woods Route is truly a glimpse back in time.

Texas State Railroad Information:

  • Address: 789 Park Road 70, Palestine, TX 75801
  • Phone: 855-632-7729
  • Website: http://texasstaterailroad.net/
  • Prices: A diesel-powered ride is $49.95  for Coach Adult ( ages 13-64), $29.95 for Child ( ages 2-12) and $44.95 for Seniors (ages 65+). A steam-powered ride is $59.95 for Coach Adult (ages 13-64),  $39.95 for Child (ages 2-12) and $54.95 for Seniors (ages 65+). Prices go up from here for First Class, Presidential Car and Private Caboose Charter.

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