The Texas State Railroad departs from Palestine, Texas.

Texas State Railroad – A Piney Woods Adventure

Ready for an adventure that’s 135 years in the making? Hop aboard the Texas State Railroad for a Piney Woods adventure. This four-hour excursion offers riders relaxing views of the rolling landscape. The historic railroad was built in 1883 to serve the mining industry. As this waned, the line was repurposed for tourism. These days crowds flock to the Palestine terminal for a chance to relive the heydays of train travel. 

We want to thank Visit Palestine and the Texas State Railroad for hosting our excursion. Rest assured that all opinions are our own.

Passengers await their departure on the Texas State Railroad.

Piney Woods Express

Arriving at the terminal, we were eager to start our adventure. Once we grabbed our tickets, we spent some time checking out the area. The Palestine terminal was the departure spot for our four-hour ride. As we walked from the locomotive to the caboose, we noted the variety of car options. Since our train riding experiences have been limited to an Amtrak run through Missouri, we found ourselves anxious to get aboard. 

There are a variety of car options on the Texas State Railroad.

Pick Your Pleasure

Before long, they announced that boarding was about to begin. We found our line and eagerly climbed aboard. Riders could enjoy different experiences, based on their car choice. Everything from elegance to open-air was an option. Our seats were in the Dome, which offered panoramic views of the countryside. Our seatmates were train aficionados, so we had a ready resource for information. As the train pulled away from the station, our hearts raced with excitement. The 25-mile journey breezed by filled with light conversation, interesting scenery, and snacks. 

Rusk is the turnaround point for the train.

At The Rusk Depot

The Piney Woods adventure was an out-and back route with a layover at the Rusk, Texas terminal. Once the train stops, and the passengers deboard, the locomotive is moved to the other end. During this part, everyone is given a lunch break. With a little over an hour to explore, we skipped the food line and made our way into the terminal. Inside we found restrooms and a gift shop. One portion of the terminal had historical information about the Texas State Railroad. It was interesting to learn that the railway was built by prisoners from the Rusk Penitentiary. 

Riders get time for a picnic during the layover in Rusk, Texas.

Picnic Haven

The majority of the passengers had made their way to the cafeteria, to pick up their meal. After exploring the terminal, we decided to take a walk through the picnic area. A nearby lake offered a picturesque setting for a meal. Everyone seemed to be enjoying this relaxing time, so it was a perfect opportunity for us to explore the other train cars. It also provided a few minutes for some fun selfies. 

The authors enjoyed their adventure on the Texas State Railroad.

Texas State Railroad

When we heard the call to board, we felt like we had just gotten there. Our Piney Woods Adventure would be over sooner than we thought, but we still had the ride back to Palestine. We spent this time in deep discussion with our tablemates. They walked us through some of their other rail excursions and we could tell they were well-traveled. It made us wonder if we should add more train adventures to our future trips. I’ve always thought a cross-country excursion would be a memorable adventure. I’m just not sure how well I would adapt to spending long periods of time on a train. Perhaps it’s best for us to stick to these shorter rides for now. We spent the last few minutes just soaking up the beauty of the Piney Woods landscape. 

The author's signature.

2 thoughts on “Texas State Railroad – A Piney Woods Adventure”

  1. We have enjoyed some scenic railroads too – but not the Piney Woods one. Your seat partners may have mentioned these. When you wander next time in Colorado – take time to go to and ride the Durango Silverton Railroad which is in the SW corner of the state – plus there are shorter ones nearer Denver such as Georgetown Loop Railroad and Pike’s Peak one. Up in Ontario Canada is an exceptional scenic railroad called Agawa Canyon Tour Railroad that leaves out of Sault St. Marie, Ontario.

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