RUSK, Texas (KLTV) - The Texas State Railroad is well-known today as an attraction for families, but it certainly didn’t start that way.
Prisoners at the state facility in Rusk built the line to Palestine in 1909, so it could transport coal back to the prison.
After the closing of the prison, the Texas Legislature approved the development of the state park.
For decades now, families can decide to get on the steam engine at Rusk or Palestine and take the trip to the other town. Once they’re there, they get an hour to take a look at the depot, which has gift shops and historical storyboards.
The railroad has had its share of economic concerns. In 2007, the legislature passed a bill allowing for the train to be leased to a private operator.
In 2017, a leaser defaulted on a loan, and the railroad shut down for a period of months before reaching a new deal with Western Group, who operates the train today.
If you and your family want a trip on the railroad, you can book it on the railroad’s website. We’ve included a link in our Big Red Box.