Palestine, Texas- This weekend, the Easter Egg Express will roll out of the Rusk Depot on Friday, April 3; and Saturday, April 4. The event offers a chance to meet the Easter Bunny, as well as an Easter egg hunt, live children’s entertainer, games and activities and much more! Departure times are 11am and 2:30pm.
Piney Woods Steam Excursions return to the Texas State Railroad on Friday, April 3. The steam trains will depart all season long, through mid-November, from the Palestine Depot at 11am. The newly restored Southern Pine Lumber Company #28 (formerly known as locomotive #300) will feature the same paint scheme it had when it was an iron workhorse in the timber industry. The engine dates back to 1917. It was built during WWI for the U.S. Army. Piney Woods Steam Excursions will run on Fridays and Saturdays, with Thursdays added during the summer vacation season. Piney Woods Excursions will depart from the Rusk Depot on Saturdays, pulled by a diesel locomotive.
April 24-26 the railroad will hold its first Steampunk Express event. It will feature four train ride options over the course of three days, plus a steampunk festival on the grounds with live entertainment, a costume contest, steampunk vendors and more. Dance Your Dreams Dancers from Palestine will perform Saturday after the Victorian High Tea train returns to the depot, and before the Victorian Dinner Train departs. After the Victorian Dinner Train returns from its run, a steampunk circus – Carnival Epsilon, from Tulsa, Oklahoma will perform; followed by Darwin Prophet and the Chronus Mirror, a steampunk performance band from Plano.
This year for the first time the 27th annual Spring Fair in Rusk will move from the downtown square to the Rusk Depot grounds. This event will feature a carnival and local appreciation train rides on Friday, May 1 and Saturday, May 2.
The Rail Fan Photographer’s Special has been expanded to two photo shoot opportunities this year. Saturday, May 2 will be a night photo shoot and Sunday, May 3 will be the traditional daytime photo shoot. This special event gives rail fans and photographers of all levels an opportunity to photograph the train at various locations along the route that are not normally accessible to the public.
A Mother’s Day Brunch has also been added to this year’s schedule. It will depart from the Palestine Depot at 10:15am on Sunday, May 10.
Rounding out the spring schedule is the 17th annual Salute to the Armed Forces event. This event pays tribute to all branches and all eras of military service to our country. Current and former military with ID will get to ride The Patriot Train for free. Patriot Trains will run on Saturday and Sunday, May 23-24, departing from the Palestine Depot at 10am, 1pm and 3:30pm. Able Company, a premier WWII reenactment group, will be providing shows at various times, in various locations on the railroad. There will also be flag raising and lowering ceremonies each day, a ceremony to recognize those from Anderson County who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country, and an event on the grounds featuring living history exhibits, static military displays and booths by military support groups.
For more information, go to www.TexasStateRR.com or follow the Texas State Railroad on Facebook. Tickets can be booked online or by calling 903-683-3098.