Riding Trains In Texas

Dated: 06/04/2019

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Who doesn't love trains?  Trains are a part of the childhood experience for so many children; and for many of those children the wonderment and interest continues into adulthood.  There are train toys of every kind, model trains of all sizes, and real trains that wind their way through Texas and the rest of the country.  My young son and I enjoy visiting many of the train museums and railroads in Texas, and most often in the San Antonio to Austin corridor since this is where we live.  If you're looking for a fun activity and learning experience for your family, visiting some of the train sites in central Texas is the way to go.   Here are the main ones from Austin down Interstate 35 to San Antonio.

austinsteamtrain.org  The Austin Steam Train Association (ASTA) in Cedar Park, just northwest of Austin, is an historic railroad excursion train that travels between Cedar Park and Burnet.  The train travels on the historic railroad right of way that was used to transport the big blocks of pink granite, from near Marble Falls to downtown Austin, in order to build the Texas State Capitol building in the 1880s.  The trains sometimes derailed during the transport of the granite, and to this day there remain several huge blocks of pink granite along the tracks that are viewable as you ride.   The highlight trips of the year for children are the Polar Flyer Christmas excursion, and the Thomas the Train excursion.  There are plenty of adult only trips as well, with different themes throughout the year.  In addition there is a museum at the rail yard that you can visit before or after your trip.  

hayshistoricalcommission.com/kyle-railroad-depot.html  Located about 20 miles south of Austin in Kyle, the Kyle Railroad Depot is the original restored 1917 depot that served Kyle until 1965.  It was fully restored in 2016 and is open as a museum mainly on Saturdays.  The building contains vintage furnishings and equipment from the era, as well as a vintage caboose in the middle of restoration outside the depot.

newbraunfelsrailroadmuseum.org/nbrr/   Located in historic downtown New Braunfels, this museum is housed in the original 1907 depot building along the still active Union Pacific Railroad tracks.  The museum has several very large model train layouts with lifelike detail.  It is also home to numerous historic railroad tools and items of a bygone era.  Outside the museum station there are several full sized trains on display:  A steam engine, a passenger rail car from 1922 that can be rented for party space, an old caboose, and boxcar whose interior houses one of the large model train layouts.  New Braunfels is also home to a biannual model train convention as well as a scenic rail train that runs through historic Landa Park.  There are plenty of other great things to do and see in New Braunfels that I'll save for a later blog post. 

txtransportationmuseum.org  Last but not least is the Texas Transportation Museum located in Northeast San Antonio not far off of Interstate 35.  This museum has been in operation since 1964 where it originally began at the Pearl Brewery.  In its current location, there are multiple model train layouts and several full sized engines that pull a short excursion train the whole family can ride on.  There is also a sizable antique car, horse buggy, and fire engine collection.   In addition, the museum is a great place to have birthday parties for children, as they have a large property with a few different areas that can be reserved for groups.  

Again, these train related highlights from just San Antonio to Austin.  The entire state is rich in railroad history.  In fact, one of the largest bat colonies in the state lives in an old railroad tunnel where passenger trains once ran from Fredericksburg down through San Antonio; Old Tunnel State Park - tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/old-tunnel


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Joe Branco

Originally from the New York City area, I spent part of my childhood growing up in San Antonio before attending UT Austin for college. More recently, after spending 16 years as a Real Estate Agent in....

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