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Home > Features > Texas Stories > The Heyday of Jefferson

The Heyday of Jefferson
By Greg Fieg

Hard to believe that the tiny little village of Jefferson, on US 59 between Houston and Texarkana, was once a bigger city than Los Angeles, Houston, Denver and a number of other metropolitan hubs of the present day.

But Jefferson was an important 19th century seaport, situated upriver from New Orleans, and critical to the transportation of cotton, grain and other goods produced by East Texas farmers and ranchers.

Huge sidewheelers and sternwheelers plied the Mississippi to the Red River Valley before making it to the Turning Basin at the Jefferson city terminus.

Though once boasting 40,000 people, only 2,000 residents remain in Jefferson today. But the historic city sometimes swells to as many as 20,000 during a number of events throughout the year, including Mardi Gras at the end of February, the tour of historic homes at the beginning of May, the Festival of Lights in December and Civil War re-enactments.

Come and spend a weekend or a week. Enjoy the shops, restaurants and cafes, stay at bed-and-breakfasts, and boat, swim, fish or hunt.

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