Texas State Railroad


The Texas State Railroad (TSR) runs through the piney woods of East Texas between the towns of Palestine and Rusk, with Maydelle in between. It was established in 1881 by the state prison system. Inmates built the line which was used to transport hardwood for furnace fuel at the prison-operated iron smelter at the Rusk Penitentiary.

The furnace supplied the State of Texas with iron products including the columns and dome structure for the capitol building in Austin.

In 1913 the prison ceased operations of the iron furnace and the penitentiary was converted into the state mental hospital. 

In 1981, the railroad acquired a turntable and installed it in Maydelle. This vintage piece of equipment is used to turn the engines around to go in a different direction. It was built in the late 1890s by the St. Louis and San Franciso Railroad on site at their Paris, Texas, rail yard. During special train rides, the Texas State Railroad demonstrates what was routinely done many decades ago in rail yards across the nation.

TSR was designated as the official railroad of Texas in 2003. Today, it operates many scenic excursions and has a Streamliner Diner with lunch service. Numerous special events take place throughout the year providing an adventurous experience for guests boarding this East Texas treasure.

RELATED VIDEO: 30-minute public TV documentary about the Texas State Railroad featured on Great Scenic Railway Journeys. 

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