Railroad Reopens In Palestine - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3/29/06-Palestine

Railroad Reopens In Palestine

The city of Palestine has gotten a piece of its history back. Texas State Parks announced today, the Texas State Railroad will start running from the Palestine depot once again. Texas Parks and Wildlife shut down the Palestine depot in January because of state budget cuts. For almost 30 years, tourists have taken the Texas State Railroad from Palestine to Rusk.

"It's special because you can't ride a steam train, or even a historic train in very many places and of course the Piney Woods is a beautiful place." said Director of Tourism for Palestine, Susan Cottle-Leonard. The train is Palestine's main tourist attraction bringing people from all over the world. When the city was told it would no longer have its historic train, community members fought back.

"We had people signing petitions all over East Texas, all over Texas to get the Texas State Railroad going again," said Albert Holmes, member of Friends of the Texas State Railroad.

"There is so much support for this," said Cottle-Leonard. "I really feel like people all over the state and the country want to see this train continue because it is important to our heritage." Members of Palestine's tourism board say today's decision does come with some challenges.

"It's really only for one year and we are going to have to step up to the plate and work hard, but at least we have the opportunity now and Palestine is up for the task," said Dan Davis, member of Palestine Tourism Board. Palestine's depot was just one of 50 state parks affected by the budget cuts.

"Our park system has dropped from 49th to 50th in the nation in per capita spending and that's not good enough for Texas," said Holmes. City officials say they hope the railroad will show state lawmakers why Texas should be number one. Train runs from Palestine will resume on April 8th. The train leaves at 11:00 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday.

Molly Reuter, reporting. mreuter@kltv.com

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