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Watch Great Scenic Railways online: Episode 4 South West

We begin this segment in Texas, the largest state in the Union. We visit the railway at Rusk, Texas, built in 1881 by prisoners to ship in raw material from the areas rich iron ore deposits and ship out finished goods made in the local state prison. The Texas State Railroad Museum is not your typical museum. Instead of stationary pieces of railway equipment and displays inside a building, it's a moving museum along 25 miles of track between Rusk and Palestine. Thanks to the museum's large collection of vintage steam engines, passengers get a vivid sense if what steam travel was like as they ride through the heavily timber forests of southeastern Texas. Transporting raw material was a familiar duty for Western railroads, and the town of Silverton, Colorado, was booming with the mining of precious metals in the 1870s. The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad decided to build a narrow-gauge line in 1879 from Antonito to Silverton to meet this need.

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