We received our June Issue of "Texas Monthly" in early May of 1994, and found in it an article of immediate interest to any true RailFan: details of four separate Excursion Railroads which would be in full operation that summer in our Home State of Texas. Who could resist? The phone lines buzzed as we got in touch with old friends in Cedar Park TX, where we had lived for 13 years, and plans were soon laid for our end-of-the-month outing. Although the main purpose of the trip was to ride on two steam trains, we had a couple of other things to see along the way.
We rented a Chrysler convertible for the trip, since the weather was bound to be fair. Off we went, through western Kentucky and Tennessee, stopping in Jackson TN to see the Casey Jones home and museum. You saw a picture of me up front, in the cab of # 382 which is on display next to the home. On we went, overnighting at West Little Rock, then trekking across Arkansas to Texarkana and on to the small town of Jefferson, Texas. An excursion operation exists there, the Jefferson and Cyprus Bayou Railroad, and they run a steam-powered ride on weekends. Also there is the restored personal car of railroad tycoon J. Paul Getty. You can make arrangements to tour it at the hotel across the street.
From Jefferson, we made good time into Austin where we stayed with friends and spent the next two days getting caught up on old times. Saturday evening we took the "dinner train" from Cedar Park behind restored Southern Pacific steam locomotive # 786. Anita likes to upgrade to get out of the heat, so we traveled in air-conditioned comfort and enjoyed "dinner" ... a box lunch including a small bottle of wine. But the engine made the whole trip worthwhile. She pushed us out of Cedar Park station 'backwards'; since they were serving wine, we couldn't go into the next county, because it's dry! So backwards we went to the county line, and then # 786 in full song, pulled us back to the station. It was great to stand in the vestibule behind the tender, listening to the bark of the steam exhaust. I didn't get my moneys worth of the air conditioning, but there are no complaints here!
After we got back to Cedar Park, we fired up the Chrysler and headed east. It was late when we got to Palestine, and we soon found a bed in a local motel. The next morning, it was up early and on to the station. Tickets were procured, and soon we were on our way to Rusk. The Texas State Railroad runs two trains, one from each station. they meet in the middle, and on this day engine # 500 was pulling the other train. "Film at 11:00."
After our return to Palestine, we had a little time to explore the station. They have a large car-barn there, where they keep, among other things, the former Texas and Pacific # 610, a 1927 Lima-built 2-10-4 Texas-class locomotive. I was told at the time that she needed new tires...
That was the end of the fun. All that remained was to return to Kentucky. But we did meet some fellow "ferroequinologists" along the way. Even with the sunburn (can you say "I shoulda left the top up"), I can safely say that "A great time was had by all".
Austin & Texas Central RR
Guide to Austin Texas and the Hill Country Flyer!
|Pull it down, Pick a Destination, then "Go To It!"|