Located just a short trip south of Tyler on U.S. Highway 69 is Jacksonville, in Cherokee County, at an elevation of 522 feet.
Jacksonville is a major hub for regional highways, including U.S. 69, U.S. 79, and U.S. 175, and a major facility for the Union Pacific Railroad.
It is known as the "Tomato Capital of the World" from a time when the area was a huge producer and shipper of tomatoes. The Tomato Bowl, a WPA project, is the home of the Jacksonville High School "Fightin' Indians" football and soccer teams.
Annual Jacksonville events include the "Tomato Fest" celebration, the ATV Mud Nationals, and the "Tops in Texas Rodeo" in July.
Jacksonville is the site of numerous schools including Jacksonville College and Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary.
Founded in 1854, Lon Morris College was the oldest two-year institution in the state of Texas. Originally begun in Kilgore, it was later moved to Jacksonville, and is named after R. A. "Lon" Morris, who gave his estate to the school. Among the many notable graduates of Lon Morris are actress Sandy Duncan, TV star Margo Martindale, singer K.T. Oslin, Tommy Tune, singer Johnny Horton, country music artist Neal McCoy, and Amanda McBroom. Lon Morris was closed in late 2012.
Jacksonville is also home to the ATV Mud Nationals each March at the Mud Creek Off Road Park. Mud Creek Off-Road Park is located approximately 5 miles northeast of Jacksonville along Highway 79, and spans 4,000 acres.
The Tomato Fest is held annually in Jacksonville, the Home of the World's Largest Bowl of Salsa. It is located at the corner of Commerce and Austin Streets. Events include Tomato Eating Contest, Soccer and Fishing Tournaments, Farmers Market, Salsa Contest, Chili's Street Dance, and more, with over 200 vendors!
Jacksonville offers a variety of lodging including the Holiday Inn Express, LaQuinta Inn, Best Western Executive Inn, Comfort Inn, HomePlace Inn and other properties, B&Bs, and RV Parks.
In addition, many Jacksonville visitors choose the wide variety and greater number of hotels and motels available in nearby Tyler.
Lake Jacksonville, Texas ... dam and lakeview
(photo by the author)
Lake Jacksonville, built in 1957, is located three miles southwest of Jacksonville and covers an area of 1,320 acres.
It is the city's main water source and a popular destination for boating, fishing, and other outdoor activities, both for residents and tourists. In the area are also located Lake Tyler and Lake Palestine.
Lake Columbia, a project still in the planning stage by the Angelina and Neches River Authority, will cover about 10,000 surface acres and be 14 miles long. The dam will be located about two miles east of Jacksonville, and the lake will have 95 miles of shoreline. Estimated cost: $200 million.
Just north of the City of Jacksonville, Texas is Love's Lookout. At an elevation of 713 feet, it has long been known for its spectacular views to the east, on clear days as far as 30-35 miles.
Love's Lookout Scenic Park is a great place for walking or for family picnics, and includes a 5,500 square foot facility with restrooms, vending machines, an information center and a sheriff's sub-station.
Also near Jacksonville is the Cherokee Trace Drive Thru Safari, a wildlife park that is home to an amazing variety of wildlife. See over a dozen exotic and endangered species that thrive in an open habitat similar to their native territory. At your own pace, enjoy a self-guided drive through the hills and open savannahs of this 300-acre preserve.
The Texas State Railroad offers a variety of tours year-round from its terminal in Rusk, south of Jacksonville. While in the Rusk area, you may want to visit Maydelle Country Wines.
The city has gained recent fame as the hometown of country music singers Lee Ann Womack and Neal McCoy, and Hollywood star and Emmy Award winner Margo Martindale of the hit series "Justified" on the FX channel.
| Vintage postcard of the Hotel Liberty, Jacksonville, Texas
Jacksonville was established in 1847 as Gum Creek. Jackson Smith built a home and blacksmith shop in the area, and became postmaster in 1848. About the same time, Dr. William Jackson established an office near Smith's shop. When the townsite was laid out in 1850, the name Jacksonville was chosen to honor these men.
The Union Pacific railroad and its predecessors has a strong presence in Jacksonville. Two other railroads, the Southern Pacific and Cotton Belt, abandoned their lines in the area in the mid-1980s. Read more about the Cotton Belt rail line running from Tyler through Bullard and Jacksonville to Rusk and Lufkin.
For more information, we recommend a visit to the Jacksonville Texas Chamber of Commerce web site.
The YouTube video was created by the School of Hospitality Administration at Lon Morris College, and the Jacksonville High School Career & Technical Education Media Technology Department, and given to the Chamber of Commerce.
East Commerce Street, Jacksonville, Texas
Municipal Building, Jacksonville, Texas
United States Post Office, Jacksonville, Texas
Jacksonville High School, Jacksonville, Texas
Liberty Hotel, Jacksonville, Texas
Missouri Pacific Railroad Depot, Jacksonville, Texas