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Texas State Railroad facts for kids

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Current Logo for the Texas State Railroad
The Texas State Railroad's Official Logo

The Texas State Railroad is a historic 25 mi (40 km) heritage railroad between Rusk and Palestine, Texas. Built by inmates, it was founded in 1883 by the state of Texas to haul raw materials for a smelter at the prison at Rusk. Regular service on the line was ended in 1921. The state leased the line to private companies until 1969 then turned it over to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1972. In 2007, the railroad was transferred to the Texas State Railroad Authority and is now privately operating as a scenic tourist line. It is currently operated on a limited, year-round schedule. Today, the railroad has a total of five steam locomotives (four of which are operational) and five diesel locomotives.


Texas State Railroad No. 300 and its train in the East Texas forest in May 2005
2-8-2 No. 30 taking on fuel at Palestine in June 2017
TSR Number 7
Texas State Railroad's ALCO RS2
TSR Palestine Terminal
Texas State Railroad's Palestine Terminal

The start of the railroad dates back to 1883, with the completion of the Rusk Penitentiary in Rusk, Texas. Built with inmate labor, the original purpose of the railroad was to transport raw materials for the iron smelter located at the Rusk Penitentiary. In 1906, the line reached Maydelle, and by 1909, the line was completed when it reached Palestine. The railroad grew and eventually expanded to freight and passenger service, but it was not profitable. Regular train service by the state ceased in 1921 and the line was leased to various railroad companies until 1969.

In 1972, the Texas Legislature turned the railroad over to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to be used as a state park. However, by 2006, the train cost the state of Texas $1 million per year more to maintain and to operate than the revenue from the park generated. Because of budget concerns, the Eightieth Texas Legislature (2007) passed Senate Bill 1659 which allowed for the creation of an operating authority for the train with the power to lease the train to a private operator. On September 1, 2007, the operation was transferred to the Texas State Railroad Authority and leased for operation by American Heritage Railways, which also operates the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in Colorado and the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in North Carolina. In August 2012 American Heritage Railways sold the Texas State Railroad to Iowa Pacific Holdings. In addition to continuing passenger operations, Iowa Pacific Holdings opened the track to the main line in Palestine on November 1, 2012 to begin offering freight services. A leading supporter of keeping the railroad operational is Texas State Representative Byron Cook of Corsicana. The Western Group replaced Iowa Pacific Holdings as operator in May 2017, and was in turn replaced by Jaguar Transport Holdings of Joplin, Missouri in November 2020.

The varied schedule of the railroad allows visitors to ride trains pulled by diesel and steam locomotives between the park's Victorian-style depots and through the forests of East Texas. The railroad also has a long history of film and television productions, such as episodes of NBC's Revolution.

Motive power

The Texas State Railroad operates a number of steam and diesel locomotives, with build dates ranging from 1901 to 1958:

Number Type Wheel
Classification Builder Built Serial
Former Status In
316 Steam 4-6-0 D-9 A.L. Cooke 1901 26142 Texas and Pacific Railway Operational No Formerly operated as TSRR No. 201. Awaiting future overhaul as of 2021.
28 Steam 2-8-0 83-Ton Baldwin Locomotive Works 1917 47032 Southern Pines Lumber Co.
Tremont and Gulf Railroad
Operational Yes Formerly operated as TSRR No. 300.
30/7 Steam 2-8-2 87-Ton Baldwin Locomotive Works 1917 46491 Tremont and Gulf Railroad
Magma Arizona Railroad
Operational Yes Formerly operated as TSRR No. 400. Originally No. 30 for the Tremont and Gulf Railroad and No. 7 for the Magma Arizona Railroad.
1316 Steam 4-6-2 137-Ton Baldwin Locomotive Works 1911 37332 Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Display No Formerly operated as TSRR No. 500. Awaiting future overhaul as of 2021.
610 Steam 2-10-4 I-1a Lima Locomotive Works 1927 7237 Texas and Pacific Railway Display No Operated on the American Freedom Train tour from 1976 to 1977 and for the Southern Railway steam excursion program from 1977 to 1981.
7 Diesel (B-B) RS-2 American Locomotive Company (ALCO)
1947 76828 Alcoa Aluminum Railroad
Southern Pacific Railroad
Operational Yes
8 Diesel (C-C) MRS-1 American Locomotive Company (ALCO)
1953 80334 U.S. Army Operational Yes
22 Diesel (B-B) 70-Ton General Electric (GE) 1956 Unknown Unknown Operational No
125 Diesel (B-B) FP9A Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) 1957 A1051 Canadian National Railway Operational Yes Originally built as CN No. 6521.
126 Diesel (B-B) FP9A Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) 1958 Unknown Canadian National Railway Stored No Originally built as CN No. 6533. Awaiting restoration as of 2021.
  • 1901 A.L. Cooke #316 (4-6-0 "Ten Wheeler" Class) (Steam) (Formerly #201)
  • 1917 Baldwin Locomotive Works #28 (2-8-0 "Consolidation" Class) (Steam) (Formerly #300)
  • 1917 Baldwin Locomotive Works #30 (2-8-2 "Mikado" Class) (Steam) (Formerly #400)
  • 1911 Baldwin Locomotive Works #1316 (4-6-2 "Pacific" Class) (Steam) (Formerly #500)
  • 1947 Alco-GE #7 (RS-2 Diesel)
  • 1953 Alco-GE #8 (MRS-1 Diesel)
  • 1956 GE #22 (70-Tonner Diesel)
  • 1957 EMD-GM #125 (FP9A Diesel), built as CN 6521
  • 1958 EMD-GM #126 (FP9A Diesel), built as CN 6533

Other locomotives on static display:

  • 1927 Lima Locomotive Works #610 (2-10-4 "Texas") (Steam)
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