San Antonio Zoo trains set to retire as new locomotives chug into action

Trains have carried passengers through Brackenridge Park since the 1950s

Brackenridge Eagle original train and the updated version coming to San Antonio Zoo. (San Antonio Zoo)

SAN ANTONIO – The beloved trains that have carried passengers through Brackenridge Park since the 1980s are set to be retired but an exact date is still unclear.

San Antonio Zoo officials told KSAT that the C.P. Huntington trains that currently chug around the park will remain in operation until three, newly commissioned trains are up and operational.

The Brackenridge Eagle Miniature Railroad, now known as the San Antonio Zoo Train, started in 1956 and currently, three trains operate on the track. Two were built in the 1980s and the third was built in the 2000s, according to San Antonio Zoo spokesperson Hope Roth.

Brackenridge Eagle Train (San Antonio Zoo)

The third train was added in 2007 due to the Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility needs, ridership demands and ongoing maintenance of the first two locomotives which would frequently cause one of the trains to be out of service.

“The trains we currently own are C.P. Huntington trains build by Chance Rides,” Roth said. “Each train can fit up to 70 guests each depending on the size of the guest, and how many are children or adults.”

Roth told KSAT that the zoo currently has one new train and plans to order two additional new trains but the nonprofit is still in the donation phase for the two subsequent trains.

The new train is currently being built in Lufkin and will be ADA accessible with “a lot more legroom.” The new trains will also be designed differently so that each train will have its own character versus the uniform look of the old trains.

“The new trains are more powerful than the old trains and will allow for a smoother and more consistent ride,” Roth said. “There will also be a better sound system and PA system on board.”

San Antonio Zoo officials said they would make an announcement on when the current trains will be retired from service, giving everyone a chance to take one last trip around Brackenridge Park.

Roth said zoo officials are still trying to determine what they’re going to do with the original trains and haven’t made a decision on what will be done with them just yet.

About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.