As the only nonprofit railroad in Texas, the Austin Steam Train Association, based in Cedar Park, invests in restoring, preserving and showcasing vintage train cars and locomotives, Executive Director Zena Vaughn said.

Established in 1992, the organization has grown to include about 30 vintage cars and two vintage locomotives, including a 1916 steam locomotive and a 1960 diesel one—both of which are undergoing restorations.

“Without this organization, nobody would ever see these cars,” Vaughn said.

In addition to the Hill Country Flyer—the organization’s popular family-friendly six-hour trip to Burnet—other rides include the Bertram Flyer, North Pole Flyer, Sunset Express, Princess Train, Vodka Train, Wine Train and Murder Mystery train.

Vaughn said everyone on the train is a volunteer. ASTA has about 125 volunteers, many of whom have been certified in specialized jobs, including brakemen, conductors and engineers.

Vaughn said she fell in love with trains when she started at ASTA 10 years ago. With a background in theater and nonprofit administration, she did marketing and special events before becoming executive director in January.

ASTA is hoping its 1960 diesel locomotive returns to the fleet in late 2022 or early 2023. However, its 1916 steam locomotive still needs millions of dollars in restorations, Vaughn said. She said 75% of ASTA’s operating revenue comes from ticket sales that are reinvested in the train.

“We consider the train to be a rolling museum,” Vaughn said. “A lot of time and money goes into restoring the cars in a way that [is] historically accurate while keeping them safe and comfortable.”

Austin Steam Train Association

401 E. Whitestone Blvd., Ste. C-100, Cedar Park


Hours: Tue.-Fri. 10 a.m.-noon, 1-4 p.m.; Mon. closed; opens one hour prior to weekend departures