All aboard!

Today and tomorrow mark the last two days for the little rail event that’s been going on downtown near the convention center to the great delight of the little children there and of all the onlookers of all ages. I’m sorry to have no images available but it’s evident that plenty of still and moving pictures of the young participants will be available for posterity. It’s part of a so-called Thomas the Tank Engine day out under the auspices of the Austin Steam Train Association. There are still a few walk-up tickets available. The best fun is just seeing the fun going on.

The next special train-related event for grown-ups is the mystery train leaving from Plaza Saltillo on Saturday, October 29. You know it’s for grown-ups because beer and wine are available.

The inspiration for beginning the association was the steam locomotive that used to stand downtown and provide photo ops by the fire station. It was restored and went back on the rails until it required additional restoration, still in progress. Riding the trains when the motive power came from steam engine SP786 had that extra historic interest, but heading out drawn by one of the more modern diesel-powered Alco locomotives is less olfactorily sulphurous.

There’s no need to go to Cedar Park and ride all the way to Bertram or Burnet, though it’s plenty of fun and a great time out from the daily routine; on Sundays through November the train makes departures from Brushy Square (near the O. Henry house) and Plaza Saltillo and rambles through Austin’s back yards.

Burnet bills itself as the Bluebonnet Capital of Texas, but it seems to be at its liveliest during deer season. During the week, of course, it justifies its existence as the county seat of Burnet County. Sixty miles and a whole world away from Austin, where the most exciting thing to do is enjoy an old-style cafe meal (unless you count being subjected to the mock train robbery and gun fight), completing that step back in time that’s a ride on the Hill Country Flyer.

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