Western Trips

Western Trips

Friday, December 21, 2012

Texas Train Rides / Heartland Flyer

Western Trips highlights railroads in Texas. One passenger railroad route that is a lot of fun and even educational to ride connects Texas with the state of Oklahoma. The Heartland Flyer connects Oklahoma City and Fort Worth Texas. The Heartland Flyer operates 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Service on this route began in 1999 after a twenty year absence of rail service between Oklahoma City and Texas.

heartland flyer train
Heartland Flyer
The Heartland Flyer

The Heartland Flyer is operated by Amtrak and  operates as a regular train as well as an excursion train between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth.

 In addition to this, the Heartland Flyer in Fort Worth Texas also connects to the Texas Eagle, Amtrak's long distance train service between Chicago Illinois and San Antonio Texas. Arriving in Fort Worth from Oklahoma City, a passenger can connect to the Texas Eagle and then in San Antonio connect to Amtrak's Sunset Limited which offers long distance service between New Orleans Louisiana and Los Angeles California. The Heartland Flyer therefore can be part of a fun family excursion trip or a means for those in Oklahoma to connect to Amtrak's national cross country system. The Heartland Flyer is usually made up of two refurbished Superliner Coaches and a Superliner II Coach/Cafe Car. The Superliners are the two level rail cars.

Fun Excursions on the Heartland Flyer

For travelers wishing to take a sightseeing trip to Oklahoma City from north Texas there are plenty of great historic sites and museums to visit. As part of the Trails & Rails program, on certain dates National Park Service guides from the Chickasaw National Recreation Area are onboard the Heartland Flyer between Oklahoma City and Ft. Worth. Trails & Rails is a partnership program between the National Park Service and Amtrak. The Trails and Rails program provides rail passengers with educational opportunities that highlight an appreciation of a selected region's natural and cultural heritage.

ardmore oklahoma amtrak station
Heartland Flyer Station, Ardmore OK
Heartland Flyer passengers will be introduced to the rich cultural heritage of Oklahoma and Texas, the storied history of the area, the geological story of the region and descriptions of the Oklahoma and Texas landscape including it's animals and plants. The historic role of the railroad in the area is also discussed. All of this is provided by volunteer tour guides. Obviously, the Heartland Flyers Trails and Rails program makes a great fun and educational family outing.

Chickasaw National Recreation Area is in south central Oklahoma, between Dallas, Texas and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the area where the Heartland Flyer operates. The museum collection at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area includes historic objects and archival material directly associated with the park and the early settlement of the town of Sulphur Springs.

The Chickasaw National Recreation Area museum is located about 95 miles south of Oklahoma City and about 15 miles north of Ardmore Oklahoma in the town of Sulpher.

amtrak heartland flyer
Amtrak's Heartland Flyer
The Rail Route

Much of the 206 mile rail route of today's Heartland Flyer follows the old Chicago-Houston "Lone Star" rail route. 

The Lone Star was an Amtrak train that served the cities of Chicago, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Fort Worth and Houston with intermediate stops in between. For three years stating in 1971, the train was named the "Texas Chief." This was the same name used while the line was operated by the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. At the request of the AT & SF, the name was changed to the Lone Star. There was another earlier Lone Star train. That one was operated by the St. Louis Southwestern Railway and ran between Memphis Tennessee and Dallas Texas. That service was discontinued in 1952.

The Lone Star, operated by Amtrak since 1974, discontinued service in 1979 due to budget cuts.

Two additional Western Trips photo articles you'll enjoy are Texas' Historic Katy Railway and the Frisco Railroad and Santa Fe Dining Car China. The Frisco ran from St. Louis Missouri to San Antonio Texas over this same route.

heartland flyer depot
Ardmore Oklahoma
The Heartland Flyer and Fun Sites to See in Oklahoma City and Fort Worth

One excellent venue is the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. The museum is located at 1700 N.E. 63rd Street, Oklahoma City OK. See western and military collections of uniforms, firearms, saddles, rodeo exhibits, a full frontier town exhibit and much more.

The Fort Worth Stockyards has been a top Texas attraction for many years. Located on the west side of Fort Worth, the Fort Worth Stockyards features restaurants, the Stockyards Museum, the Cowtown Coliseum, the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, an old time photo parlor, a vintage steam locomotive and train that runs between Grapevine Texas and the Stockyards, a stable and much more.

The Greater Southwest Historical Museum- Located in Ardmore Oklahoma, this museum  collects, preserves, and interprets the social, cultural, and economic history of South-Central Oklahoma, with special emphasis on Ardmore and Carter County. Their collection includes everything from an early electric car to one of the earliest examples of a steam pumper fire engine.

National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame-  Located at 1720 Gendy Street in the Cultural District of Fort Worth, the museum is within walking distance of the Will Rogers Memorial Center and the Museum of Science and History. Among the many exhibits in this 33,000 square foot facility are information, photos and artifacts regarding the cowgirls place in western history. You may also want to try riding a bronc. The bronc at the museum is a life size model modified from training bulls used by rodeo riders.

(Photos from author's private collection)

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