Texas (Part One)


The base for the Texas part of my holiday was the pleasant town of Denton located about 40 miles north of Dallas.

Denton’s oldest house:

Denton has its own rail service, the “A-Train” is a little diesel service that runs 20 miles to connect with Dallas’ light rail.

Monday 08 April

On this momentous day we headed to Carrollton, another small town in the Dallas area, where we joined the eclipse party at Three Nations Brewing.

The weather, a solid grey overcast at one point, cleared and we sat in bright intermittent sunshine as first contact arrived. Was the weather going to be kind?

It got darker and darker, and then came the eclipse, to a chorus of gasps and cheers.

Eclipse picture by Howard R Wheeler on Unsplash

Yes, we saw it all, diamond ring, prominences, Venus and Jupiter and finally after what seemed like ages but was actually four minutes, another diamond ring and the sun was back, gradually getting brighter again.

I can’t find the words to describe this amazing experience. Now I understand what all the eclipse chasers I met on the train from Los Angeles were talking about. Egypt 2027 anyone?

Wednesday 10 April

One can’t visit Dallas without seeing the site of the Kennedy assassination. The museum was quite interesting, with lots of stuff about the man himself, the assassination and subsequent events. Possibly due to the Eclipse bringing in lots of visitors, it was ticket holders only today. Fortunately we had booked on the website yesterday.

Visitors can look out from close to the actual window on the sixth floor. If you look carefully in this picture you can see an X painted on the road.

Outside, you can see the grassy knoll. I was a little disappointed to see a stream of Americans dodging the traffic to be photographed laughing and waving, posing on the X.

Time to take the light rail towards home.

Thursday 11 April

The next part of the holiday was an extensive exploration of Texas.

The pleasant town of Palestine, TX has some good looking old houses and an impressive county court building:

Friday 12 April

The Texas State Railroad is a heritage railway that runs excursions for twenty-five miles between Palestine and Rusk. The railway was originally built by the state using prison labour in order to transport iron ore to a smelter also operated by prisoners.

Today’s trip was powered by number 400, a 2-8-0 built by Baldwin and dating from 1917.

They have a number of other locos including this beautiful pair of FP9As:

I had booked for the open-air coach, it was lucky the rain of a couple of days ago had cleared.

Also in the train was this beautiful dome car, I’m guessing it dates from the 1940s:

The far end, at Rusk, is too far from the town for a visit so just a pleasant place for a picnic before rejoining the train. The station here, and the one at Palestine, were constructed for the tourist train operation.

Saturday 13 April

On the move again, towards Houston, I called in at the little railway museum at Rosenberg:

On arrival at Houston I was rather excited to see that the view from my motel room included the tail fin of a space shuttle!

Sunday 14 April

The Galveston Railroad Museum has a very impressive collection and is located in the former Santa Fe station on Galveston Island.

Amongst the indoor exhibits is an amazing collection of railway crockery and glassware, here’s just a small sample:

I took a short ride on the end platform of this caboose hauled by a diesel shunter made in 1958:

Galveston is a town in two parts, first there is Historic Downtown, a tourist trap for passengers from the cruise liners that dock nearby. (There were two there today.) It is full of shops and bars, frustratingly I drove here so no pub crawl.

Then a short tram ride away (It’s a diesel powered modern replica.) is the beach, a proper seaside place in the style of Blackpool. Needless to say, I had fish and chips for lunch here, although in an attempt to stay local I actually had catfish and chips, which was very good.

In between the beach and downtown I saw lots of attractive buildings:

This imposing building with a rather brutal exterior is the Post Office and Courthouse and was built in 1937:

More from Texas in Part Two…

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