RUSK, TX (KTRE) - East Texans, along with visitors from all over the country gathered in Rusk to celebrate a birthday dear to East Texas' history.
The Texas State Railroad kicked off its 135th birthday celebration. It was an opportunity for rail fans to capture rare photos of the official Railroad of Texas.
The Texas State Prison system put a train on the tracks in 1881. 135 years later, it remains a historical East Texas treasure.
"It's just been ingrained in the local for as long as anyone can remember," said Greg Udolph, General Manager of the Texas State Railroad.
Celebrating its birthday, rail fan photographers from all over the country hopped aboard to focus in on the Official Railroad of Texas.
"We came from Maryland. We live in the Washington D.C. area. We flew down to Dallas a few days ago," said John Quinn.
"We took an authentic looking freight train out from the 1950's and allowed people to take pictures of it along the line," Udolph said.
They captured parts of East Texas' rich history on an excursion through the Piney Woods.
"They took us to some unique spots that you can't see on the road, so you got some personalized service," said Bettianne Quinn.
They snapped the historic passenger tourist attraction on all qualities of equipment.
"People took video, some people took stills, some took both, and everybody got an opportunity," John said.
"We see all sorts of equipment. He's got the good stuff. I use my Ipad," said Bettianne.
The Texas treasure was built to serve the Foundry and Rusk State Penitentiary.
"Just the history of steam engines was just a wonderful experience, he even got to ride in the cab!" Bettianne said.
Today, the historical locomotive maintains its longevity and value by attracting visitors from all over the country who can appreciate its antiquity.
"We want this to be an economic engine for the area," Udolph said.
The celebration is not over. Monday, there will be a ceremony at 9:45 a.m. and local appreciation train rides at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. There will also be children's activities on the grounds.