Located just a short trip east of Tyler is Marshall, the county seat of Harrison County, Texas. The population of Marshall in 2010 was about 25,000 residents.
We've been visiting Marshall for literally decades. We first frequented Marshall Pottery back in the 1970s, and are still buying their clay pots and other products on a regular basis! Many people think of New Orleans when they hear "Elysian Fields" ... we know it as the I-20 exit where Marshall Pottery is located!
Marshall is also well known for its "Wonderland of Lights," one of the largest light festivals in the country when lit during the Christmas season, and the original and largest Christmas festival in Texas.
In 2013, this popular event runs from November 27 to December 31.
Each evening, visitors can enjoy more than a million lights located in hundreds of displays that showcase Marshall’s historic town square and the Street of Dreams.
Attractions include horse-drawn buggy rides, touring buses, ice skating rinks, snow globe, laser light shows, and more.
The Historic Harrison County Courthouse is the center of events, and visitors enjoy the nightly synchronized light and music shows. Festival activities take place throughout the city, but much of them take place in the downtown square. There is no cost to enjoy the synchronized light and sound show on the courthouse. The evening music show begins at 7:10 PM each evening on the Street of Dreams.
more details about the Wonderland of Lights ... from the Marshall Convention & Visitors Bureau
Marshall offers nearly 1,000 guest rooms in a number of hotels, motels, B&Bs and other types of lodging for those visiting the city. Hotels and motels include a Holiday Inn Express, Hampton Inn, Fairfield Inn, LaQuinta Inn, Quality Inn, Comfort Suites, and others.
It also offers a range of bed & breakfasts, including Rosemont Cottage, Roseville, Pond House at Triple Creek Ranch, Three Oaks, and Wisteria Garden.
Many popular restaurants offering a variety of cuisines are available in Marshall. Always favorites are the Blue Frog Grill at 101 W. Austin Street, Jalapeno Tree, El Chico's, Applebee's and many more.
Founded in 1841, Marshall is a major city in the East Texas economy, and a large supporter of the arts community and historical preservation. It is often called the "Cultural Capital of East Texas".
Today, Marshall has more than 100 historical markers and medallions, such as the T&P Depot marker (see below), with several sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Many of Marshall's Victorian homes have been restored, and several function as B&Bs. Also fully restored is the Harrison County Courthouse.
Other popular attractions near the courthouse include the Michelson Museum which showcases the work of Russian-American artist Leo Michelson, and the Visual Arts Center where visitors can watch artists practice their crafts, and shop for paintings.
Marshall is located on historic U.S. Highway 80 and U.S. Highway 59 in addition to Interstate Highway I-20. Its economy is strong and diverse, and the oil and gas industry continues to play a major role in economic development.
Area communities include Kilgore, Gladewater, Mineola, Longview, Grand Saline, Mt. Pleasant, and Henderson.
The historic Texas & Pacific (T&P) Railway depot and museum (see photos below) is a major tourist attraction in Marshall, as are many other historical sites that showcase Marshall's long and varied history. Located at 800 N. Washington Street, this ornate two-story brick station, once a major interchange point and division office for the T&P, has been restored to its former grandeur.
The T&P was created by federal charter in 1871 with the purpose of building a southern transcontinental railroad between Marshall and San Diego, California. The T&P never reached San Diego but connected with the Southern Pacific. Marshall became known as "The Gateway to the Southwest".
| Texas & Pacific (T&P) EMD E8-A Diesel #2012
The Missouri Pacific Railroad gained majority ownership of T&P stock in 1928 but allowed it to continue operation as a separate entity until they were merged in 1976. The Missouri Pacific was later merged into the Union Pacific, which continues service to Marshall today.
Marshall was the site for a major locomotive and car repair shop operated by the T&P.
Marshall's impressive passenger depot, constructed in 1912, was once scheduled for demolition, but a determined effort by the City of Marshall preserved the building for future generations.
The Ginocchio Hotel, across from the station, is an 1896 vintage railroad eating house from the era when trains stopped every few hours for meals.
My interest in the T&P has been a long one, and I clearly remember riding one of its passenger trains from Fort Worth to Alexandria, Louisiana in 1963.
| Texas Eagle at Marshall Depot
(Photograph Courtesy of Bill Pollard)
The T&P depot in Alexandria has now been displaced by I-49, but the edifice was preserved and moved several blocks away.
The T&P rail shops closed in the 1960s, and T&P passenger service ceased in 1970.
Today, Marshall has access to passenger service via Amtrak's Texas Eagle.
The historic marker at the depot (see photo below) documents the history of the T&P in Marshall ...
Marshall's first railroad was conceived as a connection to Red River steamboat traffic. Twenty miles of track were laid northeast to Swanson's Landing on Caddo Lake by 1858.
In 1871, the U. S. Congress authorized the Texas & Pacific Railway Company to build a transcontinental railroad, which would run along the 32nd parallel from Marshall to the West Coast. Two years later, the T&P moved its maintenance shops to Marshall.
A new passenger depot was built here at the junction of the Texarkana and Louisiana lines in 1911-12, where it was positioned to serve both routes. To complement the nearby Ginocchio Hotel and huge Texas & Pacific shop complex, and visually to terminate Washington Street from the Courthouse. The railroad's architect was influenced by the popular prairie school and combined abstracted renaissance and Mediterranean details on the brick and concrete structure. Prominent features include a tile roof and wood and plaster accents. A pedestrian tunnel was added for safety in 1940.
The Texas & Pacific depot remains an important symbol of Marshall's relationship to the railroad, once its major employer and transportation source.
Marshall, Texas - Texas & Pacific (T&P) Railway Depot, circa 1970
(Photograph Copyright by the Author)
Texas & Pacific Railway Shops, Marshall, Texas
Texas & Pacific (T&P) Railway Museum
Amtrak Ticket Office
Marshall Depot Gift Shop
Texas & Pacific "Train of Fame" (photo November 2011)
Historical Marker about the Texas & Pacific (T&P) Depot in Marshall Texas
YouTube Video of Union Pacific 7396 container train passing through Marshall Texas
NOTE: The above video and photographs provided
courtesy of good friend and world traveler JSS3
Street Scene, Marshall, Texas, early 20th Century
City Hall, Marshall, Texas
Marshall Baptist College, Marshall, Texas
Administration Building, College of Marshall, Texas
Post Office, Marshall, Texas
Wiley College, Marshall, Texas
Wiley College, Marshall, Texas
Harrison County Court House, Marshall, Texas
Bath House and Lake View, Marshall Country Club, Marshall, Texas
Bel-Air Motel, Marshall, Texas
Longhorn Motel, Marshall, Texas
Burnett Motel, 33 Units, 14 Garages, Marshall, Texas
Henderson Motel, Pinecrest Drive East, Marshall, Texas
The Gables Restaurant, Marshall, Texas
While visiting Marshall, we recommend the short drive north to nearby Jefferson, Karnack, Uncertain and Caddo Lake.
The Golden Era ... in Jefferson Texas
Uncertain Texas - on the moss-draped cypress shores of Caddo Lake near Karnack
Travel north from Marshall on Texas Highway 43 about 16 miles to the junction with FM2198 with signs to Caddo Lake State Park. Uncertain is 5 miles past the park entrance
For more information on Marshall, we recommend a visit to...
Marshall Texas Chamber of Commerce web site
City of Marshall web site
Marshall Convention and Visitors Bureau
Texas & Pacific Depot and Railway Museum
T&P Railfans Site