Texas Railroad Museums, Railway Depots & Train Rides
The railroad has played an important part in the history and development of Texas over the years. Companies like the Texas & Pacific Railway and the Cotton Belt Route were dominant transportation giants in the area.
Today, interest in railroads remains high with residents, and tourists, as witnessed in August of 2021 with the tour of the Union Pacific 4014 "Big Boy" train through Texas.
Included on this page are highlights of some of the more popular railroad museums, train rides and historic railroad depots across Texas, with an emphasis on East Texas.
Whether you are touring in East Texas, North Texas, West Texas, or elsewhere in the State, there are many interesting railroad displays to explore!
Texas State Railroad
Vintage steam and diesel locomotives take passengers across the celebrated rails of the Piney Woods Route between the quaint East Texas towns of Palestine and Rusk on a 50-mile roundtrip adventure.
This quintessential daytrip, only a few hours from the metropolitan communities of Dallas and Houston, will create a memory that will last a lifetime.
Cotton Belt Depot Museum in Tyler
The Tyler Tap Railroad began operations in 1877, and later became part of the Cotton Belt Railway. The Cotton Belt train depot in Tyler was opened in 1905. Today, the depot is the home of the Cotton Belt Depot Museum, and the Tyler Transit offices.
Included in the museum's collection are four large model train layouts, photographs, uniforms, hats, etc. that have been donated by former employees of the railroad, and friends of the depot. The Depot Museum has received visitors from all 50 states and 38 foreign counties, and is staffed by volunteers from the Cotton Belt Rail Historical Society.
T&P Railway Depot & Museum in Marshall
The historic Texas & Pacific (T&P) Railway depot and museum is a major tourist attraction in Marshall, as are many other historical sites that showcase Marshall's long and varied history.
Located at 800 N. Washington Street, this ornate two-story brick station, once a major interchange point and division office for the T&P, has been restored to its former grandeur.
To get to the museum located in the Ginocchio National Historic District, visitors must pass through a tunnel below the still-active Amtrak line and enter the depot, where an impressive collection of railroad artifacts awaits. Items include memorabilia from early passenger trains, exhibits detailing the large-scale manufacturing functions at the shops, and hands-on displays including a model train and pull whistle.
For more information ... Texas & Pacific Depot and Railway Museum
Old Texas & Pacific Railway Depot in Grand Saline
|The Grand Saline Library located in the restored Texas and Pacific Depot, 201 E. Pacific Street|
Nacogdoches Railroad Depot
The Nacogdoches Railroad Depot was built by Southern Pacific Railroad in 1911 after the original wooden depot burned to the ground following a lightening strike. In August of 1954 Southern Pacific terminated passenger services through Nacogdoches. The depot was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.
It is now home to the SFA Center for Regional Heritage and features rotating museum displays such as the Loblolly Model Train exhibit, history of railroading in Nacogdoches, and others.
The depot is administered by the City of Nacogdoches and functions to collect, preserve and interpret artifacts and oral histories relating to the history of the depot and railroads of Nacogdoches City and County.
Located at 101 Old Tyler Road in Nacogdoches.
Paris, Texas Railroading
|Paris Union Station, built in 1912, features Prairie-style architecture with some Italinate features highlighted by a 77-foot tower. The station initially served the Frisco, Santa Fe and Texas Midland passenger trains. (see photo below)
In 1997, the Kiamichi Railroad acquired Frisco and Santa Fe interests and donated the depot for restoration to the City of Paris. Restoration is now complete and the structure is home to the Valley of the Caddo Museum & Cultural Center, Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Corporation and the Lamar County Genealogical Society.
The Texas & Pacific (T&P) Railway operated a separate depot in Paris. (see vintage postcard to the right)
The T&P Railway in Mineola
The discovery of oil in Wood County and construction of the Texas & Pacific Railway prompted additional growth in the 1940s.
From 1974 until 1996, the Amtrak Texas Eagle and its predecessor trains passed through Mineola without stopping. However, community leaders convinced Amtrak to make their city a stop, based on creative local marketing and a promise to renovate the train station.
Today, the Mineola depot has been restored and serves as Transportation Plaza, hosting the Depot Museum and Amtrak Station.
|The railroad depot in Mineola||Visit this restored T&P caboose near the depot|
Depot Museum in Henderson
The old 1901 Missouri Pacific railway depot was an important link for old-timers in Rusk County, Texas.
World and local news, gossip and local business concerns traveled by the train to the citizens.
Today, the Depot Museum is an important ticket to East Texas heritage.
Cotton Belt Depot in Mt. Vernon
The 1894 Cotton Belt Railroad Depot has been carefully restored pursuant to National Register standards with original colors and decor.
The central office is furnished with antiques suitable to an office at the turn of the last century, working telegraphy, and railroading exhibits.
A model train exhibit showcases a stylized mid-century Mount Vernon. The depot is located at 202 S Kaufman Street in Mount Vernon.
Union Pacific 4141 in College Station
The Union Pacific Railroad paid tribute to President George Herbert Walker Bush with a custom-painted EMD SD70ACe locomotive. Incorporating colors and elements of the Air Force One used during Mr. Bush's presidency, the Union Pacific locomotive bears the number 4141, in honor of the 41st president.
On December 6, 2018, Union Pacific was honored to participate in President Bush's funeral train, led by No. 4141, from Spring to College Station, Texas. No. 4141 now sits in front of the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the Texas A&M campus
For details and information about opening dates/times, visit the Website of the George Bush Presidential Library or phone 979.862.2253
Railroad Depot in Winnsboro
Saved by the Winnsboro Heritage Society in 1985, the railroad depot, built in 1908, has been fully restored and is known as the Winnsboro Depot Center.
The KCS Railroad gave the society a 99-year lease on the depot in 1985.
The Center houses the Winnsboro Area Chamber of Commerce office and meeting room, the Autumn Trails office, WEDC office, the Winnsboro Historical Museum as well as a community room available for meetings and special events.
It is located at the intersection of Main and Broadway Streets.
Jay Gould's Railroad Car
Jay Gould's special train car "The Atalanta" is on display in Jefferson on Austin Street across from the Excelsior House Hotel.
The private 88-foot parlor car has a luxurious interior with four staterooms, lounge, dining room, kitchen, butler's pantry and bathroom.
Livingston Texas Heritage Park
Locomotive No. 5 on display in Heritage Park
Palestine Visitor Information Center
The Palestine Visitor Information Center is located in the restored Neches, Texas railroad depot built about 1906, 9 miles northeast of Palestine. It originally served the International & Great Northern Railway which was integrated into the Missouri-Pacific Railroad and later the Union Pacific.
In 1980, the depot was moved to its current location in downtown Palestine and restored.
The Palestine Visitor Center is located at 825 Spring Street. For more information, call 903.723.3014, and on the web ... Palestine Visitor Center
Wills PointThe Texas & Pacific Railway depot in Wills Point ... the locale of Mitchell Hall
Frankston Railroad Depot
In 1900 the Texas & New Orleans Railroad, later part of the Southern Pacific Line, platted the town of Frankston. The frame Frankston Depot, built in 1906, is located at 159 W. Railroad Avenue. The depot was restored in 1976 as a museum and today houses the city's library.
Chandler Railroad Depot
City officials date the Chandler depot building back to the early 1900s, serving the St. Louis and Southwestern Railroad, later part of the Cotton Belt Route.
The depot has been restored and was moved from South Broad Street to Arlie McCain Memorial Park in February of 2019.
Atlanta Historical Museum
The mission of the Atlanta Historical Museum is to institute and encourage historical inquiry, to collect, preserve and exhibit material of history and to spread historical information, especially as it pertains to the City of Atlanta in East Texas.
The permanent exhibits include a diorama depicting the Texas and Pacific Railway as it would have appeared between 1890 and 1910. It also features an array of local items depicting the development of commerce in Atlanta between 1850 and 1950.
The Museum is located at 101 N. East Street in Atlanta in the former Texas & Pacific Railway depot. Phone 903.796.1892 for more information. The building also houses the Atlanta Area Chamber of Commerce.
Anna Texas Depot and Museum
Built in 1885 by the Houston & Texas Central Railroad, the Anna Depot is the oldest extant railroad station in Texas. It has been restored and is operated by the Anna Area Historical Preservation Society.
The Anna Depot and Museum is a local history museum that is open to the public on the second and fourth Saturday of each month from 10 am to 2 pm. The museum can also be opened at additional times if arranged in advance.
The City of Anna will soon be the new home for the former MS&SA 201. It is an Alco 2-6-0 Mogul that was built in 1906. It is currently in Reader, Arkansas being cosmetically restored and will be displayed "arriving" at the depot in Anna.
The depot is located at 101 S. Sherley Road, Anna, TX 75409. Phone 469.982.6396 for more information or to arrange a tour.
Read more about the Anna Area Historical Preservation Society on Facebook
Grapevine Vintage Railroad
The Grapevine Vintage Railroad travels along the historic Cotton Belt Route between Grapevine and the Fort Worth Stockyards.
Rides are available year-round on authentic 1920s Victorian coaches, with special excursions offered such as Christmas Wine Trains and the North Pole Express.
Shown to the right is diesel GP-7, Number 2199, built in 1953 and originally owned by the Santa Fe Railroad and now operated by the Grapevine Vintage Railroad as "Vinny".
Phone 817.410.3185 for more information and tickets.
Austin Steam Train Association
The railroad operates from three depots: Cedar Park, Bertram and Burnet. Various seating options are available such as excursion coach, first class coach and first class lounge.
Shown to the right is a photo of the Austin & Texas Central Alco diesel #442.
For reservations, phone 512.402.3830 or visit the Association's website.
Galveston Railroad Museum
Galveston Railroad Museum - impressive collection of rolling stock and preserved locomotives along with railroad displays and artifacts.
Shown to right is Santa Fe EMD F7 diesel locomotive #316 in "Warbonnet" livery at the Galveston Railroad Museum.
The main entrance is located at 123 25th Street. Phone 409.765.5700 for additional information.
Museum of the American Railroad
Founded in 1962 and located in Frisco, the Museum of the American Railroad is a not-for-profit Texas corporation dedicated to celebrating the heritage and exploring the future of railroads through historic preservation, research, and educational programming.
The museum collects artifacts and archival material from the railroad industry to exhibit and interpret their significance in American life and culture.
In its most ambitious project to date, the Museum closed its location in Dallas’ Fair Park to relocate its collections and operations 30 miles north to 8004 North Dallas Parkway in Frisco, Texas. Phone the Museum at 214.428.0101 or visit their website at ...
More Texas Railroad Museums and Historic Depots
- Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio - railroad exhibits, model railroads and rolling stock. The museum is located at 11731 Wetmore Road in San Antonio. Phone 210.490.3554.
- Railway Museum of San Angelo - Explore this historic depot with model trains, historic photos, a static train display outside, special events and tours, and much more. The museum is located at 703 South Chadbourne. Phone 325.486.2140 for more information.
- Red River Railroad Museum in Denison - Just one hour north of Dallas, visitors to the museum will find thousands of treasured memories from the golden era of the railroads. The museum is located at 124 West Main Street, one block west of the Historic Katy Depot, in Denison. For more information, phone 903.463.5289.
- Wichita Falls Railroad Museum - Climb aboard actual train cars and steam locomotives including commuter cars, Pullman Troop Sleepers, dining cars, Post Office and Baggage Cars, cabooses and more. Located at 500 9th Street. Phone 940.386.1626.
- Historic Jefferson Railway - Located at 400 East Austin in Jefferson, Texas, the railway transits a three mile excursion route along Big Cypress Bayou. For more information, phone 866.398.2038.
- Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum - exhibits explore the history of the railroad and topics relating to regional and local history. The museum also hosts temporary exhibits, education programs, and special events. The museum’s collection of railroad equipment is displayed on the grounds, next to an active railroad yard where rail-fans can observe daily operations and traffic of the BNSF and Amtrak. The museum is located at 315 W. Avenue B in Temple. Phone 254.298.5172 for more information.
- Burlington-Rock Island Railroad Museum in Teague - The B-RI Railroad Museum includes two floors of artifacts, old photos and original depot furnishings from 1906. Located at 208 South 3rd in Teague, Texas. Phone 254.359.4100 for more information.
- Eagle Lake Depot Museum - The Eagle Lake Santa Fe Depot was built in 1911 and opened in September of that year. Restoration of the building to its railroad service appearance began in 2000 and the museum formally opened after the centennial celebration in 2011. Located at 322 East Main Street in Eagle Lake, Texas, near the Prairie Edge Museum.
- New Braunfels Railroad Museum - The museum is run by a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of railroad artifacts and education. The museum is open to the public at no charge. Located at 302 San Antonio Street. For more information, phone 830.627.2447.
- Granbury Historic Railroad Depot - 109 Ewell Street in Granbury. Built in 1914, the Depot offers visitors a glimpse into the frontier days when railroads were a vital transportation link for towns in Texas.
- Lindsey Railroad Museum - 202 East Broad Street in Texarkana
- Itasca Historical Depot Museum - 101 North Catalpa in Itasca, Texas. The Itasca Depot was built in 1873 and served as the Itasca train station until 1976.
- Rosenberg Railroad Museum - 1921 Avenue F in Rosenberg, Texas
- Cleburne Railroad Museum - 206 North Main Street in Cleburne, Texas
- Lehnis Railroad Museum - 700 East Adams in Brownwood, Texas
- Interurban Railway Museum - Haggard Park, 901 East 15th Street, Plano, Texas
- Amarillo Railroad Museum - Located at 3160 I Avenue in Amarillo
- Milam County Railroad Museum - 101 W. Main in Cameron, Texas
- Llano Depot Visitor Center - 100 Train Station Drive in Llano, Texas
- Central Texas Rail History Center & Historic Rail Park - 104 E. South Main Street in Flatonia, Texas
- 1904 Train Depot Museum - 102 East Fleberg Avenue in Kingsville, Texas
- Elgin Depot Museum - 14 Depot Square in Elgin, Texas. Located in the historic Union Depot, circa 1903, the museum includes an extensive archive collection and is the repository for historic photographs in the community.
- Edwin Olsen Railroad Museum - 204 N. Avenue E in Clifton, Texas. Features a collection of railroad memorabilia housed in the renovated Santa Fe depot (c. 1900).
- Allen Depot Building - The Allen Heritage Guild maintains the Depot as a repository of historic materials associated with the development of Allen and as a museum displaying exhibits and holding events that reflect the city’s history.
- James H. Long Railroad Museum - 100 NW 1st Street in Smithville, Texas. With railroad history and artifacts dating from 1886, the museum is full of engaging exhibits of authentic railroad artifacts, all of which tell Smithville’s railroad story.
- Tomball Railroad Depot - Tomball’s historic 1907 Depot museum contains train memorabilia, original art works, antiques, and two highly detailed model railroads.
- M-K-T Railroad Depot & Park - 5615 First Street in Katy, Texas
- Ennis Railroad and Cultural Heritage Museum - 105 NE Main Street in Ennis, Texas
- Texas Railroading Heritage Museum - Houston, Texas
- Railroad & Transportation Museum of El Paso - El Paso, Texas
- Railroad Heritage Center - Palestine, Texas
Union Pacific 4014 "Big Boy" Visits East Texas in 2021
No other railroad in the United States has retained its historical equipment and honored its past as much as the Union Pacific. The preservation of its fleet speaks to the high value UP places on its heritage and its role in America's history. The fleet itself dates back to 1912, but most of the passenger cars are closer to a half-century old, built during the height of passenger train travel. Each car is unique and chronicles a different chapter of Union Pacific's past.
The Union Pacific Railroad built twenty-five of the massive 4-8-8-4 steam locomotives early in the 1940s. The locomotives were 132 feet long and weighed 1.2 million pounds, and served primarily on the route from Cheyenne, Wyoming to Ogden, Utah. Because of their great length, the frames of the Big Boys were articulated to allow them to negotiate curves.
The engines were originally going to be called the "Wasatch" series, but a worker at the locomotive works wrote "Big Boy" in chalk on the front of one ... the name stuck!
Only eight of the "Series 4000" engines survive today, and only one, 4014, is operational. Union Pacific also operates Northern No. 844, with its 4-8-4 configuration, the last steam engine built for the railroad.
The UP excursion train pulled by 4014 left Cheyenne, Wyoming on August 5, 2021. It traveled south through Fort Worth, Waxahachie, Hearne and down to Houston. After a visit to New Orleans, it headed north to Shreveport, east to Marshall and north again up to Jefferson on August 25. After stops in Texarkana, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Denver, the route took it back to the steam shop at its home in Cheyenne on September 7, 2021. Read more about Union Pacific heritage
We had the thrill of watching it and hearing the sounds of the engine and its whistles three different times on the segment from Marshall up to Jefferson!
When we saw the train, the engine was pulling 12 cars, some of which are shown below. The last three cars on the consist were removed in Kansas City, for movement to their home base in Council Bluffs, Iowa: UPP 9005, Walter Dean, dome lounge; UPP 5011, City of Denver, diner lounge; and UPP 119, Kenefick, business car.
Also included in the consist was UP 4015, an EMD SD70M, for backup power and dynamic braking.
|Union Pacific 4014 "Big Boy" engine pulling the steam excursion train into Jefferson, Texas, on August 25, 2021 (Staff Photos)|
|Ed Dickens, chief of 4014's restoration project, and engineer on this excursion, at the controls as it moved into Jefferson|
|Water car UPP 809 ... "Jim Adams"
||The "helper" engine ... UP 4015 EMD SD70M
The "Promontory" car ... carrying the "Experience the Union Pacific", a multi-media walk-through exhibition that provides a glimpse at the past while telling the story of modern-day railroading.
|The "Walter Dean" dome lounge car
||The business car ... "Kenefick"
|Union Pacific power car UPP 2066, originally built as postal storage car number 5816. Power cars have living quarters for an electrician who monitors the system, and additional refrigerators and freezers for commissary services.|
Watch the "Big Boy" video on YouTube
Texas Railroad Links of Interest
- Texas Rail Map (PDF)
- Texas Central - planned high-speed train service between Dallas and Houston. Texas Central is the company undertaking the development, design, construction, finance, and operation of the innovative new high-speed passenger train line that will connect the fourth and fifth largest economies in the country, North Texas and Greater Houston, in less than 90 minutes, with one stop in the Brazos Valley.
Vintage Postcards of East Texas Railroading
|KCS Railway Passenger Station, Port Arthur, Texas
||Paris, Texas Union Station
|Palestine, Texas Railroad Depot
||Texarkana, Texas Union Station
|Texas & Pacific (T&P) - I. & G.N. Railroad Depot in Longview
||Cotton Belt Depot in Tyler, Texas
|T&P Railway Shops in Marshall, Texas
||Cotton Belt Hospital in Texarkana