We just got back from a trip on the Texas State Railroad, which runs between Rusk and Palestine (pronounced Pal-es-steen). The railroad was originally built in the late 1800s to serve the iron foundry at the East Texas Penitentiary in Rusk. For a more complete history of the line, check out their website: http://www.texasstaterailroad.com We had a great time. It was a very relaxing trip, even though it rained most of the way. The forest looks really pretty during the rain. Unfortunately, the TSRR is in danger of being shut down. Like many states, Texas is facing a budget crisis (duh...we somehow didn't foresee being $9 billion short this year). State parks and agencies (including mine) are facing deep cuts. (We're all waiting for the ax to fall at my office...several will be laid off this week.) The TSRR is important because it is the state's premier steam locomotive preservation and restoration facility. It's one of the few tourist railroads that is completely self-contained--it shares no part of its ROW with "commercial" lines. One of their main purposes is to preserve the equipment and practices of steam-era railroads for all to see and experience. Two trains run on Saturdays and Sundays through the Spring and Summer, and they run Thursday through Sunday in June and July. One train departs from Rusk, the other from Palestine. The one from Rusk pulls onto a siding about half-way to let the other train pass, then they continue on their way to the other town. After a one-hour layover, they head back to their original stations. Passengers can purchase one-way and two-way tickets. This first picture is of the train and water tower at the Rusk station. The combine next to the tower is where we sat. The other half of the combine was the snack bar.