The historic Texas State Railroad in East Texas received $1.5 million in funding from the 87th legislative session to keep the rail line operating. The allocation can be used to purchase additional rail cars, perform necessary maintenance on the railway and support continued operations.
The state funding was jointly announced by State Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) and state Rep. Cody Harris (R-Palestine).
Senator Nichols said that “Representative Harris and I have worked hard to ensure there is continued support for the operations of the Texas State Railroad. This historic railway is an East Texas treasure that families and community groups travel from across the state to enjoy. This funding will ensure the continued operations of the railroad for years to come.”
The heritage railroad runs 30 miles between Rusk and Palestine, Texas. It was founded in 1883 by the state of Texas and built by inmates to haul raw materials for a smelter at the Rusk prison.
Regular service on the line was ended in 1921 and the state leased the line to various private companies until 1969. It came under the jurisdiction of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1972. Texas P&W transferred the rail line to the Texas State Railroad Authority in 2007. The railroad operates as a scenic tourist line on a limited, year-round schedule. Texas State Railroad has five steam locomotives and three diesel locomotives in its current roster. It is currently operated by Joplin, Missouri-based Jaguar Transport Holdings, a short-line railroad owner.