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.
ATV Mud Nationals
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.
Jacksonville Annual Tomato Fest
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!
The next Tomato Fest is scheduled for June 9, 2018.
Jacksonville Texas Hotels, Motels, Lodging
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. The project is currently on hold.
Love's Lookout, elevation 713 feet above sea level (photo by the author)
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.
Located nearby is the Lavender RV Park and Lavender Farm. The park has 24 RV spaces that serve even long RVs, both 30 amp and 50 amp with roomy pull thrus. It is located 5 miles south of Bullard off US Hwy 69. The park is only 8 miles from Lake Jacksonville and 9.9 miles from Lake Palestine, and 23 miles from lake Striker, giving easy access to three lakes. A place to park a boat and trailer is available, as are tent camping and picnic areas.
The RV park also has three acres of land dedicated to growing wonderful healing and refreshing Lavender flowers to relax in. Call 903-617-4731 for more information about the RV park, farm or special events.
Other Jacksonville Texas Area Attractions
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.
Famous Movie Stars and Singers from Jacksonville Texas
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.
Jacksonville Educational Institutions
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 Texas History
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 about Jacksonville
For more information, we recommend a visit to the Jacksonville Texas Chamber of Commerce web site.
Map of Jacksonville Texas (courtesy of Google Maps)
Historic Images and Vintage Postcards of Jacksonville Texas
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