It's a summer program that's giving families a unique look at East Texas. The Texas State Railroad is sponsoring the "All Aboard" program this summer giving free train rides to kids 12 and under.
It's full steam ahead for the Texas State Railroad this summer. Until Labor Day, kids can get a free ride on a historic steam train in East Texas.
"Kids love trains, and most adults love trains," said Robert Crossman, Texas State Railroad Park Manager. "It's kind of a laid back thing to do that's not high pressure, you to see some stuff in the countryside that you don't get to see from a car going by at 70 miles per hour."
As many as five kids, ages 12 and younger, can ride free with a paying adult. The railroad hopes the promotion will increase the number of rides during what is typically their slow season.
"Our peak seasons are the springtime, with the Dogwood Trails Festival in Palestine and then the fall as the trees start to turn and people are getting ready for Christmas," said Crossman. "June, July, August, September have always been low ridership months and we're trying to fill that hole."
The trains are antique steam and diesel locomotives. They leave once a day from vintage stations for an hour and a half ride from Palestine to Rusk.
"We've got tours of the locomotive cab and kids of all ages from 8 to 80 can talk to engineers and firemen and other trained crew members on the train."
The trians have a 90-minute layover before heading back to their original station. This gives passengers time to eat lunch, browse the depot train stores and enjoy a little of East Texas. There are also campsites at either end of the depots for folks who want to make their train trip last all weekend.
"I like to see the kids smiling and just wound up like a spring ready to go ride the train," said Crossman. "We do a lot of school runs, where we'll have hundreds of children at once.. It's an amazing thing to watch."
The free rides last until Labor Day. To make reservations you can call the Texas State Railroad at 800-442-8951, Locally you can call 903-683-2561 or click on the "kids ride free" link below... There you'll find a link to the railroad's website.