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Hochendel/Maison Bayou Plantation
Various dates between 1836 and 1840 are cited as the beginning of Jefferson
at a river landing on Big Cypress Bayou. Whatever the date, early settlers
were already established when the town was laid out in 1842. Today one
of Texas' most historic towns. More than 30 structures bear State Historical
Medallions. Several antique shops.
Jefferson nearly became a major East Texas river port of entry; Big
Cypress was then navigable by steamboats from New Orleans. Discovery of
nearby iron ore brought smelters and plow works, while plentiful pine and
cypress stimulated the lumber industry.
Here was one of Texas' first breweries, and in 1873 the world's first
ammonia refrigerant ice plant. It was the state's first city to utilize
artificial gas for street lighting, and shortly after the civil War, reached
a peak population of 30,000 with as many as 15 steamboats at a time lining
the docks, and scores of wagon trains passing through on the way West.
Steel rails were also reaching west, but Jefferson, confident in the
steamboat, refused Jay Gould's offer for a railroad. Gold angrily predicted
death for the city, and laid his tracks elsewhere. He was right as far
as the "city" goes, because growth in succeeding years, like the railroad,
seemed to bypass Jefferson.
For today's traveler seeking a quiet reflection of a past era, it is
a fortunate result.
BAYOU RIDING STABLES
HISTORIC HOMES TOURS
ALLY CARLSON HOUSE
RUTH LESTER MEMORIAL AND PLAYHOUSE
JAY GOULD PRIVATE RAILROAD CAR
JEFFERSON & CYPRESS BAYOU RAILROAD
JEFFERSON HISTORICAL SOCIETY MUSEUM
TURNING BASIN RIVER BOAT TOUR
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BAYOU RIDING STABLES - 45 minute narrated horseback
tour along banks of Cypress Bayou amid 100 year old trees. Observe wildlife
and site of Diamond Bessie murder.
CARNEGIE LIBRARY - Built in 907, and one
of few such libraries still serving its original purpose. Second floor
designed as an opera house. On display is one of the outstanding doll collections
in Texas. 301 Lafayette Street.
HISTORIC HOMES TOURS - Many of the city's
fine old homes are open during the annual Historical Pilgrimage, the first
weekend in May and Candlelight tour the first two weekends in December.
Others, are private residences and are generally open . Most are on the
National Register of Historic Places.
ALLY CARLSON HOUSE - Built in 1861 by Dan
N. Alley, co-founder of Jefferson. Owned by three generations of Alley
family until 1961 when it became property of Jefferson Historical Society
CULBERSON HOUSE - Built in 1880 by noted
attorney David B. Culberson in the Greek Revival style. House has 14 foot
ceilings, five fireplaces, and a secret passageway. This home has both
national and state historical medallions. 403 n. Walnut.
FREEMAN PLANTATION - Built in 1850, the graceful
Greek Revival structure embodies the building style that distinguished
so many Louisiana plantation homes. Giant magnolias and period furnishings
complement the house, which has been cited by the Historic American Buildings
Committee of the Department of the Interior. One mile west on Texas 49.
RUTH LESTER MEMORIAL AND PLAYHOUSE - Built
as a private residence about 1860, it became a Catholic convent, school,
and hospital in 1869. Sold to a Jewish Congregation in 1875 and adjoining
synagogue added. Both buildings restored with Victorian furnishings and
HISTORIC INNS: Excelsior House - 19th
Century hotel numbered among its guests Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B.
Hayes, Diamond Bessie, Jay Gould and Oscar Wilde. Guest rooms feature period
furnishings of maple, cherry and mahogany and include marble-topped dressers,
button and spool beds, many from the original furnishings when hotel opened
more than a century ago. 211 West Austin Street.
JAY GOULD PRIVATE RAILROAD CAR - The "Atlanta"
has luxurious interior with four staterooms, lounge, dining room, kitchen
butler's pantry and bathroom. Ironically, the car is within a stone's throw
of the Excelsior Hotel, in whose register Gould wrote "The end of Jefferson"
when citizens indicated a preference for grass to grow in the streets rather
than have them marked with railroad tracks.
JEFFERSON & CYPRESS BAYOU RAILROAD -
Despite Jay Gould's prediction, railroads eventually arrived, and after
more than a century, a new railroad is in service. pulled by quaint steam
locomotive, train winds along tracks beside Big Cypress River past historic
sites. Depot on East Austin Street.
JEFFERSON HISTORICAL SOCIETY MUSEUM - Four
floors of articles, documents and antiques from bygone era mementos of
pioneer days, early steamboat commerce, ante-bellum society. Paintings
and sculpture from D. D. Feldman collection. Old Federal Building, Lafayette
and Vale Streets.
TROLLEY RIDES - Soft-tired trolley tours around
the city past historic homes and buildings. Narrated tours. Board at corner
of Polk and Austin Streets.
TURNING BASIN RIVER BOAT TOUR - 45 minute
narrated tour of Big Cypress Bayou, featuring riverport history of Jefferson.
Just below old trestle across Polk Street bridge (U.S. 69)
WOODLANDS TRAIL - Feature is 99 foot state
champion yellow poplar, survivor of four transplanted from Georgia in 1887,
and sire of hundreds now in area. Other species identified. On U.S. 59,
8.5 miles north.
This file was last modified Thursday, 12-Oct-95 01:38:56