Railroad Cost Was $530,383
The 33.7 mile Texas Railroad was completed in 1909 at a cost of $530,383.
In the years since the State Railroad business in the late 1880s, this short line has had its ups and downs but always served as a pulsing artery pumping rich arterial lifeblood into the area's economic body.
The state Railroad was built to serve the Texas Penitentiary when it was located at Rusk.
The prison in 1884 established an iron foundry with 25-ton daily output of pig iron and pipe to supply state institutions while providing the "hard labor" specified under convict sentences.
Originally the State Railroad began in the late 1880s to connect the prison with convict work camps near the Neches River. By 1896, five miles of track had been completed to move iron ore and wood for the foundry. The project returned $150,000 to the state treasury.
By the early 1900's increase in the output of the foundry was limited by lack of railroad facilities. The track was extended to Maydelle. That town was named for Gov. Thomas M. Campbell's daughter, Maydelle, who sang at the opening of the townsite.
Under Gov. Campbell's prodding, the Penitentiary Commission in 1907 asked the Legislature to extend the State Railroad to link up the Texas & New Orleans Railroad at Rusk and the I-GN Railroad to the west. This plan was approved.
Followed then a healthy rivalry between Palestine and Crockett for the site of the western terminus.