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Austin Parks Foundation Chief Mission Officer Ladye Anne Wofford, at podium, and CEO Colin Wallis announced the Zilker Eagle's new name on Friday, near the miniature train's starting place at Zilker Park. (Emma Freer)

The Zilker Eagle will open this fall after a restoration project helmed by the Austin Parks Foundation. The miniature train, previously called the Zilker Zephyr, shut down in May 2019 due to storm-related erosion and a contract dispute.


Since 1961, the train has taken children on a scenic route around Zilker Park, past Lady Bird Lake and the great lawn, first under the Zilker Eagle name and then as the Zilker Zephyr. Last year, the Austin Parks Foundation began a restoration project that is slated to end this fall, in time for the train's 60th anniversary.

The Zilker Eagle first opened in 1961 and later ran under the name the Zilker Zephyr. (Austin History Center)

The new, old name arose from a robust community engagement process. After receiving more than 750 name submissions, a committee of APF staff, children and others chose seven finalists. More than 7,000 Austinites voted, with the Zilker Eagle prevailing.

Austin businesses, including the Austin Motel on South Congress Avenue, welcomed the Zilker Eagle. (Austin Parks Foundation)

The train's new name earned a spot on the most coveted sign in town: El Arroyo's. (Austin Parks Foundation)

The restored train will be all-electric, which APF CEO Colin Wallis said felt appropriate given the route's location in an environmentally sensitive public park, near Barton Springs. It will also include wheelchair-accessible passenger coaches and a new tie-dye design.

"I think that tie dye really pays homage to old Austin charm," APF Chief Mission Officer Ladye Anne Wofford said. "In the '60s and '70s wearing tie dye was really considered a way to publicly display your solidarity with progressivism and also a way to be solid with the human and political revolutions of the time."

The Zilker Eagle's new design pays homage to old Austin. (Emma Freer)

In another nod to the past, the Zilker Eagle was designed to look like an old passenger train, similar to the Texas Eagle, which ran on the Missouri Pacific Railroad, with a stop in Austin, during the 1940s and '50s. (Amtrak announced last month that it will resume daily service to Austin via the Texas Eagle, which travels between Los Angeles and Chicago.)

APF will operate the train with proceeds benefiting Zilker Park. The restoration was funded in part by donations from Capital Metro, Kendra Scott and the ACL Music Festival. "We're full speed ahead and thrilled to have our community designed for the ride," Wallis said in a statement.

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Austonia file photo. (Christa McWhirter/Austonia)

Police have arrested one of two suspects involved in a mass shooting at Austin's Sixth Street in the early morning hours on Saturday, leaving 14 people injured and two in critical condition.

The arrest was made by the Austin Police Department and the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force. One suspect is still at large.

Police started receiving 911 phone calls at 1:24 a.m about a man that fired shots into a large crowd, and responded to a chaotic scene on the 400 block of East Sixth Street. Detectives are surveying video footage captured by bystanders and cameras on the scene to identify the suspect.

The Austin Police Department has narrowed down their search to two male suspects and believes there was "some type of disturbance" between the two parties.

No deaths have been reported. Fourteen victims are receiving treatment in a hospital in stable condition with one treated in an emergency room; two are in critical condition.

According to Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon, "almost all" of the victims are innocent bystanders but police have not ruled anyone out at this time.

Shooting on 6th Street Austin Texas 6-12-2021 (Aftermath) youtu.be


The shooting occurred on the weekend of the Republic of Texas Motorcycle Rally. With lots of people downtown, police say it was difficult to get EMS in and out of the scene. Police arrived while the scene was still an "active threat," officers "immediately began lifesaving measures" and drove six victims to the hospital in their squad cars, said Chacon, and four were transported in ambulances.

Chacon said that the incident is believed to be isolated, and they optimistic they will be successful in getting the two suspects into custody. Multiple departments, including APD, the FBI, Texas DPS and the ATF, are involved in the investigation.

Austin police are also requesting state troopers for patrol assistance in the coming days. Chacon stressed staffing issues are increasingly making responding to emergency calls "very hard."

"Overall, we remain a safe city," Chacon said. "Also keep in mind when you come downtown, you need to be safety conscious. Be vigilant of your environment and your surroundings."

Today marks the five-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in which 49 were killed and 53 wounded in Orlando, Florida. Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call 911 or 512-472-TIPS.

This story was updated at 2:47 p.m. to include new information and will be updated as more details are revealed.

Austin police are investigating a homicide in North Austin where a woman was shot and killed, just hours after a mass shooting in Downtown Austin hospitalized 14 people.

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