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Marion County TX
Marion County

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Jefferson Hotels



Marion County Seat, East Texas

32° 45' 40"N, 94° 20' 58" W (32.761111, -94.349444)

Hwy 59
16 miles N of Marshall
58 miles S of Texarkana
164 miles E of Dallas
Hwy 80 to Longview and Marshall
ZIP code 75657
Area code 903
Population: 1,875 (2020)
2,106 (2010) 2,024 (2000) 2,199 (1990)

Book Hotel Here › Jefferson Hotels

Jefferson Texas - Bird's Eye View 1881
Jefferson Bird's Eye View, 1872 lithograph
Click on image to enlarge

Courtesy Amon Carter Museum

Jefferson, Texas History

The Story of Jefferson

From The Lake That Wasn't and Was and Wasn't and Is by C. F. Eckhardt

The story of Caddo Lake and Jefferson
"... In 1861 Jefferson was one of the most prosperous towns in Texas, shipping tons of cotton down Caddo Lake to the logjam, where they were transported overland a short distance to the Red River and then shipped down the Red to the Mississippi, loaded onto seagoing ships at New Orleans, and then shipped to Europe to be sold. Jefferson even had a railroad. Ambitiously named Southern Pacific, Jefferson's railroad was all of seven miles long, leading from the wharfs in Jefferson back into the pines. It existed to supply cordwood for the boilers of the Caddo Lake steamboats.

Everything went fine until 1874. Jefferson became a tourist destination, and among the signatures in the Excelsior House registration book is that of Roscoe Conklin. Though little remembered today, Conklin was considered the finest orator of the second half of the 19th Century. It was in that fateful year, so the story goes, that diminutive railroad robber baron Jay Gould visited Jefferson. He proposed to build a railroad in Jefferson - and, or so the story goes, it was his intention to lay tracks directly in the middle of the town's main commercial street.

Jefferson told the miniature billionaire - Gould only stood about five feet tall - that there was no way in the name of Perdition he was going to mar their beautiful town by running trains down its main street. Gould wrote "The end of Jefferson!" in the Excelsior House's registration book and left.

Those who study Gould's career insist he never set foot in Jefferson, Texas, in his life. Be that as it may, somebody wrote "The end of Jefferson!" in the Excelsior House's book, and shortly afterward Jefferson almost did end. For reasons unexplained to this day, the US Army's Corps of Engineers dynamited the logjam at the end of Caddo Lake, and in less than a week Jefferson was left-well, hardly high and more soggy than dry, but without its main source of commerce. Jefferson very nearly did die..."

"Jefferson is still where it was, though the remains of the wharfs that once docked steamboats are a long way from the shore of the present Caddo Lake. It does have a railroad - the Kansas City Southern - though the rails don't run down Main Street. Jefferson exploits its past, and has acquired Atalanta, Jay Gould's private railroad car named for a Greek goddess. It, along with Excelsior House and much else, is exploited for tourism." ...more

Reflections on Jefferson, a Historic Town by Robert G. Cowser
I first heard my father mention the town of Jefferson when I was quite young. Jefferson is located approximately forty miles southeast of the farm in Hopkins County where I grew up... more

The Poison Spring by Mike Cox
On the road leading from Jefferson to Daingerfield there is a spring known by the old settlers as ‘the poison spring,’” the Texas Republican reported on June 12, 1852...

Diamond Bessie's Ghost by Bob Bowman

Jefferson, Texas
Landmarks / Attractions

Jefferson is one of Texas' most historic and well-preserved towns.
Finest collection of ante-bellum houses in one place in Texas.

Attractions include historic home tours, river tours and horse and mule drawn tours.

Jefferson TX - Marion County Courthouse vintage photo
1939 Photo courtesy TXDoT
Marion County Courthouse

 Jefferson, Texas - Jefferson Historical Society Museum,
Jefferson Historical Society Museum: In the old Federal Building at the corner of Vale and Lafayette Streets
Photo courtesy Lori Martin, 2005

First Presbyterian Church in Jefferson, Texas
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, 2005
Churches in Jefferson

Jefferson Carnegie Library ,  Jefferson, Texas
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, Apriol 2006
Jefferson Carnegie Library

Diamond Bessie's Grave: Oakwood Cemetery
Jefferson Images

  • Caddo Lake State Park

  • Carnegie Library

  • City Trolley Tours - Admissions
    Departs from Historic Jefferson Tour Headquaeters
    222 East Austin St. 903-665-1665

  • Historic Home Tours, and Historic Inns -
    Many on the National Register of Historic Places.
    Jefferson Chamber of Commerce: 903-665-2672

  • Jay Gould Private Railroad Car - The "Atlanta"
    Admissions. 903-665-2775

  • Jefferson Historical Society Museum: In the old Federal Building at the corner of Vale and Lafayette Streets Hours: Daily 9:30 to 5:00. Admissions. 903-665-2775

  • Mule-Drawn Wagon Tours - Board across from the museum. Admissions.

  • Diamond Bessie's Grave: In Oakwood Cemetery

  • Texas Heritage Archives & Library: On the corner of Dallas and Market Streets 903-665-1101

    Book Hotel Here > Jefferson Hotels

  • Schluter House, Jefferson, Texas
    The Schluter House
    Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, April 2006

    Jefferson Annual Events Include:

  • "Diamond Bessie" Trial.

  • Holiday Trail of Lights - A Christmas Treat.
    Stops includes Marshall, Jefferson and Kilgore in East Texas and Natchitoches and Shreveport in Louisiana.

  • Historic homes tour in May

  • Jefferson Nearby Destinations

  • Marion County Towns & Ghost Towns

  • Take Hwy 59 South 16 miles to Marshall

  • Caddo Lake - Northeast of Marshall.
    On Big Cypress Bayou on the Texas-Louisiana state line.

  • Lake O' the Pines

    Jefferson Tourist Information
    Jefferson Chamber of Commerce: 903-665-2672
    Website: www.jefferson-texas.com

    Book Hotel Here > Jefferson Hotels

  • Big Cypress River Bridge, Jefferson Texas
    Big Cypress River Bridge
    More Texas Bridges

    Postcard courtesy William Beauchamp Collection

    Take a road trip
    East Texas

    Jefferson, Texas Nearby Cities:
    Longview | Marshall | Texarkana

    See Marion County towns

    Book Hotel Here:
    Jefferson Hotels | More Hotels
    Texas Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories, landmarks and recent or vintage photos, please contact us.




























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