Lufkin's Ellen Trout Park and Zoo are getting some much needed improvements, thanks to its partnership with the Lufkin Host Lions Club and the City of Lufkin.

The Lions Club donated $17,500 to the Friends of the Zoo to pay for building a new pavilion and remodeling  a restroom facility. This money came from ticket sales on the Z&OO Railroad.

Lufkin Public Works Director Steve Floyd says walkways now connect to the street, main parking area and front entrance providing easier access for people with mobility devices and strollers. They also put in more parking spaces, new curbs, and retopped the road.

The railroad bridge across Ellen Trout Lake has been repaired.  The bridge foundation had eroded and was unstable, so the city fixed the problem by shoring it up.

The high cost of all these improvements forced the Lions Club to increase the fare on the Z&OO train from one dollar per ride to two dollars.  Floyd says it's still cheaper than any other small train out there, and it's a money maker.

Since 2000, nearly 800,000 Z&OO tickets have been sold, and the railroad Advisory Board has donated nearly $300,000 of the profits to all manner of charitable causes in Angelina County.