Texas Rail Trails

Texas Rail Trail

Rail Trails in Texas

The operational history of Texas railroads began in 1853, with the construction of a 20-mile section of the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos, and Colorado Railroad between Harrisburg and Stafford’s Point. Over the next 25 years, the rail network in Texas would grow to nearly 2500 miles, and Texas would lead the nation in rail mileage by 1911 – a position it still holds today.

The railroad was a major influence both culturally and economically. Jobs were created or lost, land values rose or fell, and whole towns were created, picked up and moved, or abandoned, all based on the proximity of the railroad lines. The railroads influenced political races, business fortunes, and even the outcome of wars. Prior to the advent of widespread electronic communication, the local depot was often the place to get the news first because it usually had a telegraph.

Much has changed since the heyday of the railroads, which are primarily long-haul carriers now, but their influence on our culture and economy can still be felt. Tourist organizations and museums interpret this railroad influence both present and past, and are a great way to spend a few hours or a few days. Although all members of the TRTA have a common thread, each is a unique and worthwhile experience. Please visit us on your travels through Texas.

Age of Steam Railroad Museum at Fair Park

1105 Washington Street
P. O. Box 53259
Dallas, Texas 75315

The Age of Steam Railroad Museum captures the spirit and elegance of the golden age of rail travel in America. Tour first class sleeping cars and the Texas Special dining car. See the world’s largest steam, diesel and electric locomotives. Visit Whistle Fair, Dinner in the Diner and the Houston & Texas Central 1903 Depot. Purchase transportation related books and models in our museum store.

  • Admission: $5 adults, $2.50 kids (3 – 12)
  • Hours: Wednesday – Sunday from 10am – 5pm, Credit cards accepted, picnic tables, gift shop, brochure available, send SASE. Membership available, Amtrak Service to Dallas.
  • Website: www.dallasrailwaymuseum.com
  • Email: [email protected]

Austin Steam Train Association

Business Office: 610 Brazos St., Suite 210
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1632, Austin, Texas 78767
Phone: (512) 477-8468
Fax: (512) 477-8633

Escape from the 21st Century and relax with us on a ride through American railroading’s romantic past. Let the rivers and ranches of the Texas Hill Country, or the historic neighborhoods and lush parks of the heart of Austin, slip by your window as you, your family and friends share the delights of an adventure on Central Texas’ very own vintage passenger train!

The Austin Steam Train offers you a year-round choice of excursions. The trains are operated by the dedicated staff and volunteer crews of the Austin Steam Train Association, a community-based non-profit organization.

  • Admission: See our website for current pricing
  • Hours: Our train schedule varies during the year – see the website for details.
  • Website: http://www.austinsteamtrain.org/
  • Email: [email protected]

B-RI Railroad and Historical Museum

P. O. Box 604 – 208 S. Third St.
Teague, Texas 75860
254-739-2408 or 254-739-3411

Originally the 1906 T&BV depot, it now contains lots of old photos, railroad artifacts and items from local history. See Big Mike, a 1928 Baldwin Locomotive and tour a BN Caboose. The Philpott Log Cabin will let you see how early Texans lived.

Located halfway between Dallas and Houston, admission is $2.00 adult and $1.00 child. Now open Saturday and Sunday except Christmas and New Years from 1 – 5 PM. Special arrangements can be made for other times. Handicap accessible

Flatonia Rail Park

P. O. Box 66
Flatonia, Texas 78941

Tower 3, located in downtown Flatonia, is open to the public during special events and by appointment. In addition we have a caboose and a railfan photo pavilion.

Flatonia is the home of the old SA&AP freight depot and the GH&SA passenger depot. The “Dalsa” line from the north meets the “Sunset Route” at the MP 120.0 interlocking. It is a good, safe environment for railfanning, photography and a good place to meet other railfans.

To make an appointment to tour Tower 3 and the caboose, call 979-743-5366. Check www.sidetracktommy.com or www.flatonia-tx.com for days that these are open during special events.

  • Website: www.flatonia-tx.com or sidetracktommy
  • Email: side_track_tommy

Friends of the LaGrange Depot

MK&T Depot – LaGrange, Texas

The Friends of the La Grange M-K-T Depot, built in 1897 in downtown La Grange and recently restored, operate a railroad museum in the depot. Current plans are to open in November, 2005.

Check with the La Grange Chamber of Commerce for details, at
(979) 968-5756 or www.lagrangetx.org.

Hill Country Railroad Association

P. O. Box 383
Llano, Texas 78643

Hill Country Railroad Association Efforts were begun in 1993 to form the Hill Country Railroad Association in an effort to preserve this nation’s heritage in Llano and Burnet Counties. On April 11, 1998 the Kingsland/Llano Historical Railroad District was dedicated and placed on the National Registry of Historical Places. Marker dedication took place at the Llano Museum and the Antlers Hotel, Kingsland.

It is the goal of the members of the Hill Country Railroad Association to preserve and guard the railroad from the Colorado River to Llano for future generations. Future plans call for the restoration of a tourist train service from Llano to Kingsland and back along the beautiful Llano River.

The History Center in Diboll

102 North Temple
Diboll, Texas 75941

The History Center includes indoor and outdoor static displays and exhibits. The Center maintains an archive and research collection pertaining to the history of eastern Texas, including logging railroads and area shortlines. It also holds the archives of Texas Southeastern Railroad.

  • HOURS: Monday through Friday 8-5; Saturday 9-1. Closed most major holidays.
  • Website: http://www.thehistorycenteronline.com/
  • Email: [email protected]

Houston Gulf Coast Railroad Museum

7390 Mesa Rd
Houston, Texas
(713) 631-6612

The museum, open every weekend from April to November, features an interesting collection of railroad locomotives, cars and other artifacts, as well as a model railroad and research library.

The museum is open from April to November, Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Our annual Open House is scheduled for the first weekend in November.

Katy House Bed & Breakfast

P. O. Box 803
201 Ramona
Smithville, Texas 78957

Located in the beautiful old railroad town of Smithville, this charming turn-of-the-century residence is handsomely decorated in American antiques and authentic railroad memorabilia. The Katy House has been lovingly restored to its original beauty, and a gracious bed &breakfast. All guest rooms offer a queen-sized bed and private bathroom. A delicious full country breakfast is served in the main dining room. Featured in Texas Country Reporter TV show, Houston Chronicle, and Dallas Morning News.

New Braunfels Railroad Museum

(Bluebonnet Chapter NHRS)

P. O. Box 310475
302 West San Antonio St.
New Braunfels, Texas 78131-0475

The New Braunfels Railroad Museum is housed in the 1907 International & Great Northern/Missouri Pacific depot. Dedicated to the preservation of our railroad heritage, it houses a collection of rail artifacts including a steam locomotive, caboose, I-GN velocipede, and two model railroads (HO & N). Open noon to 4:00 pm Thursday through Monday. Admission by donation.

Old No. 9 Greenway

Boerne, Texas

Open year round. Parking is available at the Old Number 9 Railhead Park, near the intersection of S.H. 46 and Esser Rd. or by the Boerne Post Office located at 607 E. Blanco Rd.

Come stroll the Old Number 9 Greenway nestled in the Key to the Hills of Central Texas. This 1.4 mile long, ADA accessible rail trail follows the former route of the Kerrville Branch of the San Antonio & Aransas Pass Railway Company (SA&AP). Trail includes fifteen interpretive signs, depot style shade structures, pedestrian trestle bridge and railroad crossings.

Galveston Island Railroad Museum & Center for Transportation

123 Rosenberg Avenue
Galveston, Texas 77550
409-765-5700, FAX 409-763-0936

Located at the entrance to Galveston’s Strand Historical District, the Railroad Museum has the largest collection of vintage railroad equipment and artifacts in the Southwestern U.S. Transportation modeling is also highlighted with one of the largest model railroad exhibits in Texas, as well as one of the most complete model automobile collections in existence.

Hours: 10am – 4pm daily (March through December – closed Monday and Tuesday during January and February), with seasonal and special events adjustments to scheduling. Please call prior to your visit. $6 adults, $5 seniors, $3 children 4-12.

Grapevine Vintage Railroad

Grapevine and Fort Worth
One Liberty Park Plaza
Grapevine, Texas 76051

The Grapevine Vintage Railroad operates a tourist excursion train between Historic Downtown Grapevine to the Stockyards of Fort Worth all year long. The train operates Wednesdays through Sundays. The Grapevine Vintage Railroad is pulled by an 1896 Steam Locomotive Thursday through Sunday and a vintage Diesel Locomotive on Wednesdays.

We offer round trip, one way Group/Field trip rates and special events all year long.

Railroad & Heritage Museum/Santa Fe Depot

315 W. Avenue B
Temple, Texas 76501

The Railroad & Heritage Museum is located in the downtown Temple Santa Fe Railroad depot. The exhibits focus on the influence the railroads had on the westward expansion of Texas and on the history of railroad operations. In addition to historic railroading, the museum offers viewing alcoves with radio scanners tuned to current BNSF Railroad communications. Historic railroad equipment, BNSF railroad wye and mainlines heading in three directions are located right outside.

  • Hours: Tues through Sat 10-4, Sun 12-4.
  • Admission: Adults $4, Sr Citizens $3, Children (5 and up) $2.
  • Website: www.rrhm.org
  • Email: [email protected]

Rosenberg Railroad Museum

P. O. Box 607
3rd & Ave. F.
Rosenberg, Texas 77471-0607

Dedicated to preserving the rail history of Fort Bend County and the surrounding area. During the peak era of railroads, ten lines traversed Fort Bend County, including one narrow gauge. Our museum is located right next to the busy BNSF and UP main lines.

1879 Business Car under restoration – parlor complete and open to the public. Tower 17, the last railroad interlocker in Texas, closed Feb. 10, 2004. The tower has been moved to RRM property and is undergoing restoration. Check our web site for latest details.

  • Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 10AM to 5PM; Sundays 1 – 5PM
  • Admission: $2.00 for adults, $1.50 for senior citizens (55+), $1.00 for children ages 1 – 14.
  • Website: www.rosenbergrrmuseum.org

Slaton Railroad Heritage Association

830 S. 21st Street
Slaton, Texas 79364

The Slaton Railroad Heritage Association (SRHA) is a 501-(c)-(3) not-for-profit organization formed in 1990 to preserve, and develop for reuse, the Slaton Harvey House. The SRHA currently has more than 200 members and has raised more than $1 million towards its goal of $1,500,000 for the project. The SRHA is governed entirely by a volunteer, uncompensated, Board of Directors elected from the membership.

The Slaton Harvey House was built in 1912 and was one of the famous Fred Harvey’s chain of restaurants (immortalized in the 1946 movie Harvey Girls starring Judy Garland), which were ubiquitous to the Santa Fe system. It served as a restaurant for 30 years up to 1942, and afterwards, as a passenger depot until the termination of rail service in Slaton in 1969. Of the Santa Fe structures in Slaton, including the original depot, Santa Fe reading room, roundhouse and shop complex, the Harvey House is the only survivor.

The SRHA is restoring the Harvey House to its original configuration. Plans call for it to serve as a bus station, railroad museum and bed & breakfast. The SRHA plans to acquire rolling stock for display, including possibly another Santa Fe locomotive, as part of the Harvey House complex.

Texon Santa Fe Depot Museum

Jane McAfee
5821 Moss Avenue
Odessa, Texas 79764-9615
(432) 553-2267

The Santa Fe Railroad built this depot in 1930 at Texon, Texas. The building was retired in 1958 and moved to Sheffield to serve as a feed store. Jane McAfee purchased the building in 2002 and moved it to the present site west of Odessa, TX. The depot has been restored as a museum along with a Santa Fe caboose, and a handcar can be operated on over 300 feet of track just outside. A large O gauge model railroad is set up and can be operated by children of all ages.

  • There is no charge for admission. Please contact Jane McAfee for an appointment to visit the museum.
  • Website: http://www.odessacvb.com/museums.html
  • Email: [email protected]

Wharton Southern Pacific Depot

William Loocke
1811 Garrett
Wharton, Texas 77488

Depot: N. Sunset and Milam St.

The Galveston Harrisburg & San Antonio Railway built the depot in 1912/13 to accommodate passenger service on the Victoria/Rosenberg Division and Wharton/Palacios branch line. The depot sits on the “Macaroni line”, named to honor the 1,200 Italian’s who helped build the track for the New York, Texas & Mexican RR in 1882.

The depot will service as a local transit center and the Wharton Railroad Museum . The TexMex Railway is donating the depot and is planning to rebuild the Macaroni line by 2007.

  • Construction Website: www.wartondepot.com
  • City Website: www.cityofwharton.com
  • Email: [email protected]

Yoakum Heritage Museum

312 Simpson Street
Yoakum, Texas 77995
(361) 293-7022

The museum was established in 1981 by a group of citizens who strongly believed that the colorful and unique history of Yoakum should not be forgotten. The cattle industry, leather factories, railroad roundhouse, tomato growing and shipping kept a thriving city going for many years. Home for the museum is located in the Elkins Home. The Elkins family gained fortune through a chain of five and dime stores.

RAILROAD ROOM: Special artifacts of the railroad era, engine bell and many photographs from the R.O. Witte Collection. Yoakum was founded by the San Antonio & Aransas Pass Railroad, and many artifacts from this company are on display.

  • Hours: Sunday, Tuesday, & Thursday: 1PM – 4PM
    Friday: 10AM – 4PM.
  • Website: http://www.yoakumusa.com/

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