Victorian Christmas Train Ride
THERE YOU ARE, ALL BUNDLED UP, climbing aboard the Victorian Christmas Train Ride in East Texas with your loved ones. The antique locomotive picks up steam as you sip hot cider and warble, uninhibitedly, your favorite carols. With the verdant foliage of the Piney Woods sliding by, you lapse into a contemplative coma, thinking about all the scenes in your life that you can’t TiVo.
If you get weepy just thinking about this idyllic picture, then you’ll need some more tissues, because the train ride could soon be but a bygone memory. The Texas State Railroad is in danger of becoming a static display, and whether or not it continues its thirty-year run as a tourist attraction beyond December 31 hinges on money, politics, and time.
It’s no secret that the state parks system is running on lean means these days. So it’s not hard to see why the 110-year-old railroad is on the chopping block: With annual losses of more than $1 million, it’s a financial albatross. But neither Texas Parks and Wildlife, which runs the railroad, nor the train’s supporters across the region want to see its demise. If the railroad is going to be saved, the state will have to grant it a last-minute reprieve in the form of some emergency money.
And what happens if it doesn’t get this stay of execution? First, the bad news. If the Legislative Budget Board doesn’t approve the $650,000 allocation that TPWD officials have asked for, then the railroad’s trains will be parked indefinitely come January 1. Yes,