If you belong to my family you'd better love trains. With 2,667 miles of active rail lines in Arkansas you're bound to run into train tracks often. We don't moan when those crossing gates come down and the traffic has to stop; we get excited, we wave at the engineer, and count the cars as they pass. When our children still lived at home our vacations sometimes centered around riding excursion trains or train museums. In fact, we've ridden every excursion train in Arkansas with them. My son and his wife took a train trip on their honeymoon. My daughter and her husband rode a train in Alaska. The grandsons, they love everything about trains! This post is for them. It's full of train photos and train information.
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Gramps and I took a little road trip yesterday to southwestern Arkansas. Well, not a little road trip, 375 miles round trip. I'm still working on my project to photograph all 84 courthouses in the state. On our trip I added six more courthouses leaving me with 13 to go!! During our trip we saw several train stations and even a couple of trains.
Here's a little history of why we see trains when we're looking for courthouses. Early towns in Arkansas were built as a result of the construction of railways. Towns were built along the railways making it easier to get goods and easier to travel. As counties were formed many of the cities chosen for county seats were near waterways or railways for easy travel to conduct county business. Therefore, the courthouses are many times near railroads. After I take pictures of the courthouse we look for railroads.
I love to photograph historic train stations, but cabooses are always one of my favorite things to find. This long caboose sits at the Memphis, Paris and Gulf Railroad Station in Ashdown. The station was build in 1908 by a railroad that connected Memphis, Tennessee and Paris, Texas. It offered passenger service until 1947 and freight service until 1993.
This Cotton Belt "Drover" Caboose No. 2304 was used to haul passengers, freight, and goods on branch lines to larger cites. It ran in Arkansas up to the 1960's. I had quite surprise when I looked in the small window on the caboose door. It's a Christmas caboose!
A few of those 375 miles we traveled were in Texas. The city of Texarkana is in both states. This historic train station built in 1928 straddles the state line. There is an entrance and exit into both states. On the Arkansas end of the station Amtrak's Texas Eagle still stops for passengers. When it's stopped the west end of the train is in Texas and the east end of the train is in Arkansas. The rest of the station is now abandoned, but I've read that it's privately owned and will be renovated.
Texarkana is proud of it's railroad history. There are several murals painted on sides of the old downtown buildings.
I wasn't able to get this train all in one pictures. There were two bushes right in the way. So, here's the engine . . .
and here's the rest of it.
They also have the best painted trash cans I've ever seen.
I almost missed this train track sculpture. I was taking pictures of the mural and trash can then turned to walk back to the car and there it was, behind my back!
In the very small town of Lewisville, we were turning around in a parking lot and spotted this sculpture on the side of a building.
Like I said we're always on the look out for trains so I can take pictures for my grandsons.
Note to my grandsons:
Jake, Drew, Josh, Aaron, and Isaac I hope you enjoyed the train photos. You were on my mind a lot yesterday. I kept saying to Gramps "the boys would love to see this!"