This may be old news, but your editor wasn’t up to date and feels compelled to share. On May 4, 2017, The Western Group, an association of railroads headquartered in Ogden, Utah, took over the operation of the Texas State Railroad. They were awarded the operating contract by the Texas State Railroad Authority.
Western Group has run the Verde Canyon Railroad in Arizona since 1990. They also operate the freight-only Cimarron Valley Railroad, based in Satanta, KS, the Oregon Eastern Railroad, based in Vail, OR, the Southwestern Railroad, based in Deming NM, as well as Southwestern Rail Car Services and Western Railroad Builders.
They’re tweaking the operation in a couple of ways. Both the Rusk and Palestine depots will have on-property food services with cooked to order meals. Previously the food was contracted out. A new history museum is under development at Palestine. It will feature some of the rolling stock currently out of sight behind the shop, along with explanatory signage and displays. They’re adding a campground located on Lake Cherokee.
There’s news on the motive power front. The rebuild of Army “Pershing” 2-8-0 #28 (Baldwin 1917) is complete and the engine is in service.
It was originally Army #396, then #645 and finally #20. It finished its career after World War II at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. The Tremont & Gulf at Winnfield, LA, bought it and renumbered it 28. In 1955 it went to Temple Lumber in Pineland, Texas. The Texas State Railroad acquired it in 1976.
Also new this year is FP9 #125. This well travelled unit started life on the Canadian National, helped power the New Georgia Railroad and now wears a red, silver and yellow scheme that evokes the Katy’s Texas Special.