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If you've never taken a trip or ridden a train you're missing out on the ride of your life. Whether it's a more modern train that runs from Dallas to Ft. Worth or a more vintage one that runs from Palestine to Rusk there's nothing like the feeling of floating along or hearing the clink and clatter from a vintage train while riding the rails.

Without trains, many East Texas cities wouldn't exist. As the rails expanded west and south in the 18- and 19-hundreds, towns popped up along the rail lines, and subsequently as the rails disappeared, so did so many East Texas towns. Through all of the growth and decline of the railroads in East Texas, there are still two small private rail lines in operation that offer up some pretty unique views and experiences throughout the year.

Texas State Railroad

The Texas State Railroad, commonly known as the "Official State Railroad of Texas", stretches approximately 25 miles from Palestine to Rusk. The rail line was built in 1883 by inmates to haul in raw materials for a smelter. Freight and passenger service along the line ended in 1921. The railway was turned over to private companies up to 1969. In 1972 the train and rail lines were turned over to Texas Parks and Wildlife and then in 2006, the line became a leased operation.

The Texas State Railroad carries passengers along the scenic line year-round and hosts several special events throughout the year:

  • Easter Egg Express in April
  • Dogwood lunch train in the spring
  • Wines In The Pines in August
  • Pumpkin Patch Express in October
  • The Polar Express in December

You can book a trip aboard the Texas State Railroad anytime.

Historic Jefferson Railway

The Historic Jefferson Railway itself isn't as old as many other rail lines in Texas, it's the nostalgia of riding in an open-air train car that's the most appealing. Constructed in 1985 by the City Of Jefferson, the Historic Jefferson Railway runs along the Big Cypress Bayou for about three miles. No longer owned by the city, the rail line is currently being operated by a private company.

The Historic Jefferson Railway has special excursions throughout the year, including:

  • Mother's Day Express
  • Father's Day Express
  • Halloween Express
  • Christmas Express
  • along with other special events

Without railroads and trains, East Texas wouldn't have the robust economy it does today. As freight, grain, oil, merchandise and people are moved along the rails. East Texas isn't the only home to some great railroads in Texas, there are some other great rail lines to ride along in the Lone Star State, including:

Then if you're looking for the ultimate narrow gauge railroad experience of your life, I'd suggest taking a trip aboard the Durango & Silverton Narrow Guage Railroad in Durango, Colorado. This rail line was built back in 1880 and carved out of the Rocky Mountains. This is definitely a train ride to end all train rides. I've been on this line a couple of times and the views, cliffs, drop-offs and more will absolutely take your breath away.

This spring, or anytime, take some time out and book a trip and have the time of your life and experience riding the rails! Whether it's aboard a modern-day train or in an open-air car, it's an experience.

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