Cedar Park, Texas - Northwest Austin Train Depot
The usual goal of steam train associations is to re-create the old steam locomotive experience. Riding the rails in the old days meant hearing the chugga-chugga sound of the engine, the swaying cars on the rails and the beautiful sound of a steam powered whistle blown frequently.
One of the first railroads to be built in Texas was the Austin and North West narrow-gauge rail in 1882. This rail line helped to build the state capitol, Governor Ross Sterling's home close to Houston, Herman Hospital in Houston, the Austin Post Office and the old Texas University library.
After the line became the property of Austin and became a commuter service, the old steam locomotive, the Southern Pacific 786, became irreparable. That steam engine is now replaced with the Alco Diesel 442 Engine
The old Southern Pacific 786 is currently under repair. Cracks in the cylinder saddle casting have appeared requiring a replacement of the saddle casting. This task has not been tried in more than 50 years. As of the Fall of 2011, the re-assembly stage has been reached.
Soon, the Austin Steam Train Association hopes to bring that engine back on line and have steam train excursions reinstated for the association's train rides.
Example Train Excursions from Cedar Park, TX via the Austin Steam Train Association
Review: A Halloween Whodunit on the Hill Country Flyer Train Ride
Riding a train is enjoyable and relaxing. Cedar Park, Texas is fortunate to have the Austin Steam Train Association headquarters conveniently located right in the center of this bustling town. The train association puts on several specialty rides throughout the year and is considered one of central Texas' fun tourist adventures.
A Halloween Whodunit on the Hill Country Flyer is a special night ride that includes a real murder mystery play put on by professional Austin actors. The ride includes a box lunch of sandwiches, sides, drinks (limited bar drinks included) and a dessert.
Participants may choose the regular coach cars or one of the first class lounge cars. Both classes are rebuilt old steam train cars and both have an antique feel. The First Class and Lounge cars are climate controlled. The coach cars are not air conditioned or heated, so choose well.
The train depot is located just behind the H.E.B. grocery store on R.M. 1431. There is even a Halloween cat to greet you at the door. Participants in this Halloween train ride are encouraged to dress in costume. Almost all of the riders choose to do so making for a very festive night.
After leaving the station, the included box lunch fare was served right away . The choice of drinks were sodas, two brands of beer and red or white wine. The food was adequate, but not elegant. There are no super dining cars with waiters in formal garb here. It's an old style, kind of western feel atmosphere.
The Plot Thickens!
Not too long into the ride, the Halloween Whodunit begins and some very interesting characters set up little humorous scenes in our train cars. They travel throughout the cars passing from one car to the other and repeating the same skit. The story develops as the ride progresses.
At the end of the ride, guests write down their guess for the killer and any comments. A winner is determined by the 'players' and one person per car is awarded some railroad related prizes. It's fun and the players do their job well. Spoiler alert! The twin did it.
Austin Steam Train Association Excursion Map
True train aficionados love to go to spots where old train rides are part of the vacation. There are growing reasons to visit Cedar Park, Texas on the whole. The Austin Steam Train Association provides an interesting tourist trip for the central Texas area.
Across the nation there are many old train rides and in fact, there is a modern train station in Austin, Texas just 30 miles from Cedar Park. It's an Amtrak station, part of a nationwide network of train travel.
Train travel is still special and overnight trips are a blast. It's possible to plan a whole vacation just riding the rails. As we say in Texas, "Whatever floats your boat!"