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Texas State Railroad State Historical Park

The Texas State Railroad (TSRR) State Historical Park has two depots, each adjacent to Rusk/Palestine State Park. The Rusk depot lies 21/2 miles west of Rusk on US 84; the Palestine depot lies 4 miles east of Palestine on US 84.

Train excursions (50-mile round trip) run on Sat-Sun Mar-Oct, with Thu-Fri trips added in June and July. Additional runs are scheduled the first three Saturdays in Nov.

Two trains run on most days of operation, one from the Rusk depot and the other from the Palestine depot. (On some Sundays, one train only leaves from Rusk.) Departure time: 11 a.m., with arrival at the opposite depot at 12:30 p.m. Passengers reboard at 1:30 and return to the point of origin at 3 p.m.

One-way (\$10, \$6 ages 3-12) or round-trip (\$15, \$9 ages 3-12) tickets are available, as well as special "train leases" for occasions like family reunions and weddings.

Note: All trains and depots (including restrooms) are accessible to wheelchairs; call ahead so that train personnel can direct you to the best spot for viewing.

If you call ahead, you can bring a bicycle aboard May-Sep, which allows you to ride the train one way, then pedal back.

Special events occur throughout the year, including Starlight Evening Excursions, a bicycle vs. train race, a military history weekend, a comedy murder-mystery ride, dogwood-viewing and autumn color-viewing excursions, and a Victorian Christmas trip.

You can tour the steam-engine cab and visit with the engineer on operating days. The park regularly offers tours of the maintenance shop in Rusk, as well as (in Palestine) look-sees of Engine 610, the 1927 steamer that pulled the "Freedom Train"; call for in formation. An excel-lent video, shown throughout each day of operation at the Rusk depot theater, describes how steam engines work.

Light lunch items are available in both train depots, and the concession car of the train sells snacks like candy, popcorn, and drinks.

The Rusk Unit of Rusk/Palestine State Park provides camp-sites with water and electricity, as well as full hookups. Group facilities include a screened dining shelter (capacity 75-100) with kitchen and restrooms, as well as an open-air pavilion (capacity 75). Amenities include picnic tables, a fishing pier on a 15-acre lake, hiking trails, two playgrounds, and two tennis courts. The small frame church that stands here was built in 1906 and moved to the park recently.

The Palestine Unit offers campsites with water only, shaded picnic sites with tables and grills, and two open-air pavilions with picnic tables and grills (capacity 75 each). For camping reservations, call 512/389-8900. Web site: www.tpwd.state.tx.us.

For train reservations (reservations are recommended; you'll pay in advance and pick up your tickets at the depot the day of departure), write to the Texas State Railroad State Historical Park, Box 39, Rusk 75785, or call (Mon-Fri 8-5) 903/683-2561 or (inside Texas) 800/442-8951. You can buy tickets at either de-pot 9 a.m.-11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. -1 p.m. on days of operation. For more information, write to Rusk/ Palestine State Park, Rt. 4, Box 431, Rusk 75785; 903/683-5126 or (inside Texas) 800/792-1112.

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