Texas State Railroad Will Not Close This Year

Engine 400, Texas State Railroad (KTRE News Photo / Jason Youngblood)
Engine 400, Texas State Railroad (KTRE News Photo / Jason Youngblood)

by Ramonica R. Jones

The Texas State Railroad in Rusk will no longer be shutting down at the end of the year. The train will be pulling out of the station for at least another eight months.

Parks and Wildlife commissioners got the word Tuesday morning, but its future after August 31, 2007 depends on what happens during the legislative session which starts in about a month.

Mark Price, state park operations superintendent, said, "There will be a lot of discussion about the Texas State Railroad in particular and funding. And so, at least by running into the legislative session, our elected officials will have an opportunity to discuss and determine the fate of state parks and the Texas State Railroad."

The combination of less funding and higher operating costs is putting state parks all across Texas in a budgeting bind. Operating the historic railroad is an expensive business, but the East Texas community and many state leaders have been rallying behind the popular park in Rusk.

Parks & Wildlife Commissioner John Parker said, "There has been some talk of giving the train away because it is an expensive item to operate, but so is the Battleship Texas, so is the San Jacinto Monument, so is Goliad State Park, but who would give away any of those items?"

The Parks and Wildlife Department and Legislative Budget Board announced there is an additional $2.2 million available for state parks. It costs about $2.6 million a year to operate the Texas State Railroad, but the state park has a million dollar deficit each year.