Texas State Railroad

September 1, 2012

Rusk, Texas - Palestine, Texas


Video Compilation

In mid-August, Iowa Pacific took over control of the Texas State Railroad from American Heritage Railways. My buddy Everett Lueck and I made plans to head up to Rusk on our first free weekend. It turned out to be Labor Day Weekend and the TSR would be running two trains that day with the new General Manger, Earl Knoob, on board. SCORE!


We left Spring/Woodlands at 0700 and made our way north into the piney woods of East Texas.


2.5 hours later we pulled into the Rusk yard. Despite planning to chase all day, we both purchased tickets to help support the railroad. While buying our tickets Earl walked in and we spent about half an hour chatting with a living legend. I couldn't be more impressed with Earl. He was a gracious host.

First Crossing west of Rusk - Country Road 2103

At the first crossing we met up with John Price, the President of the Texas State Railroad Society. We followed John to the best photo stops for the rest of the morning. I now know of several new spots.

County Road 2108

County Road 2108

County Road 2112 - The "Pumpkin Patch"

Departing Maydelle, Texas

Iron Bridge Creek Road

Facing north

Everett checks for snakes...

County Road 399

County Road 399

Remnant of an old logging spur at County Road 399

Arriving in Palestine, Texas

Engineer Scott

Everett and Scott


After the train arrived in Palestine, Everett and I were invited to have lunch on one of the air-conditioned Lone Star cars by Earl. This alone made the whole trip well worth it!


After lunch, the train went back to Rusk and Everett and I followed the line into Palestine to see how much work had been done on rebuilding this section and how much needed to be done. We found quite a few surprises in the process...

Departing Palestine

FM 323

Quite a bit of brush has been cleared here at FM 323 . Here is a photo from 2011. 

You can see newly cut flanges in the dirt. No other rail traffic has crossed these rails

in at least 2 decades!

Our first surprise was at the Highway 256 crossing. It was rebuilt in 2006 by UP. We assume that the State paid for it since the railroad was State-owned at the time. The junction box even has power (right).

Broken rail at Hwy 256

Oakhurst Drive (east)

Oakhurst Drive (west)

UP / TSR Junction

Here is the second surprise: the TSR rails past the UP Junction and into Palestine are STILL INTACT!!    West Cook St

West Burkitt St

Old general store near

the former location of

the TSR Depot

The former location of the TSR Palestine Depot


Palestine Visitor's Center

Surprise #3 was finding the Neches, Texas I&GN depot

now serving as the Palestine Visitors Center

*Thanks to Jeff Ford for the information on this depot

UP Caboose, history plaque, and "RGX1" at the Neches I&GN Depot.

With the clock running out on the next departure from Rusk, we left Palestine and made our way east. Surprise #4 was finding about 5 MILES of former SSW/Cotton Belt rails between the SSW/Cotton Belt Rusk Yard and about a mile west of the current TSR Rusk Depot. These shots (above) were taken near the current TSR Depot.


Yes, this section of track has really been re-gauged to 2'. It is privately owned and I don't know what the plans are/were. Who would've guessed that 2' rails existed in Texas!

Location of SSW/Cotton Belt

Yard in Rusk, Texas

Location of the SSW/Cotton Belt Yard in Rusk, Texas

Just across from the former SSW/Cotton Belt

yard is the original TSR Rusk Depot

Original TSR Depot

Old SSW/Cotton Belt rails on Burke St

2nd run at Co Rd 2103

Maydelle Yard Throat

Maydelle Yard - East End

GM Earl Knoob

Iron Bridge Creek Road - Facing south

Iron Bridge Creek Road

Facing west

Iron Bridge Creek Road

Facing east

Palestine Yard Throat - MP 25.0

Palestine Yard Throat

MP 25.0

Cattle guards



GM Earl Knoob


GM Earl Knoob



Engineer Scott



GM Earl Knoob




Palestine Engine House



Our mission complete, we ended a great day and headed south to Spring and The Woodlands.


I'm very much looking forward to the magic that Earl will be working on the TSR.

The future looks VERY bright, indeed!