The City of Jefferson, Texas






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The City of Jefferson, Texas. A thriving riverport in the 1800's, the town is now a sleepy, delightful little place where a traffic jam means two cars in front of you at the red light, and it's not unusual to pass a horse and buggy as you drive down the street.

You can relax on the steps of a gazebo, read a book under the shade of a 100 year old oak tree, or take a boat trip down the Big Cypress Bayou. There are many fascinating tour homes, museums that will keep you entertained for hours, restaurants with some of the best cuisene that you'll find anywhere, and if you'd like, you can even dance the night away to a live band.

You'll find over one hundred buildings in Jefferson that have been awarded historical markers, and there are over forty bed and breakfasts, along with two historic hotels. As you walk the streets of town, you will discover art studios, antique shops, and any number of other curious stores to explore, all housed in historic buildings.

You can visit Jefferson two dozen times and never have the same experience - it's a magical place, much like the mysterious city of Brigadoon that appears out of the countryside mist. Below are just a few of the things that you'll find...



Where to eat in Jefferson

The historic riverport city has many fine restaurants to offer while you're in town, and you can find everything from gourmet sandwiches to scrumptious steaks to fried catfish that will make your mouth water. No matter where you are in town, you're only a few blocks away from delicious food - and for the furthermost restaurant, just a short fifteen minute drive. They're all listed on our restaurant page, so just click here to explore them!

Quilts on the Bayou

The Jefferson Quilt Show is becoming one of the largest in East Texas, and attracts over a thousand visitor every year. The show is spectacular, with over a hundred quilts on display. In addition, there are vendor booths, lectures, and seminars for everyone to enjoy. Click here to see photos from Quilts on the Bayou.

Mardi Gras Upriver

Mardi Gras is one of the most festive seasons in Jefferson. The tradition started many years ago, when steamships came up Big Cypress Bayou from New Orleans, bringing with them the celebrations of the City of the Crescent Moon. Mardi Gras celebrations were popular a hundred years ago, and they are carried on today! Click here to see the Mardi Gras Upriver celebration.

Jefferson General Store

The General Store is definitely worth a look. In the 1870's it started out as a hardware store, and later a functioning general store to serve the Jefferson area. Not only does it have an soda fountain, but is probably the last place in the world where you can get a 5-cent cup of coffee. They have a delicious selection of jams, jellies, salsas, and so much stuff that you'll spend an hour inside just browsing.
If you've ever wished for a cola from an old-fashioned soda fountain, then you have to make this place one of your stops - Tami's favorite is their Vanilla Cola. Not only is there a lot of shopping to do here, from books to Texana items to some wonderful eats, but if you're lucky you'll find them making fresh candy. The smell is exquisite!

Historic Oakwood Cemetery

The local cemetery is a place worth spending some time. Find Brookshire's Grocery on Hwy 49, and go north on the street to the west of it - Alley St. You'll cross railroad tracks, then see a water tower on the right. Oakwood Cemetery is behind it, so go through the gate and drive to the back for the oldest part. Not only does it have many historic markers, but some of the epitaphs are very memorable. Click here to learn more about Jefferson's Historic Oakwood Cemetery.

The Tomb of Diamond Bessie

The story of Diamond Bessie is one of the city's most popular tales. The tragic tale of her death and the murder trial that ensued all took place in 1877. Click here to read all about it. You'll find her grave when visiting Oakwood Cemetery.

House of the Seasons Tour

The House of the Seasons was build in 1872 by Colonel Benjamin H. Epperson who was a prominent lawyer, political leader and entrepreneur. At that time, Jefferson was one of the largest inland port in Texas. The house itself is restored inside and out, and the current owners are sticklers for authenticity. It is very impressive. The name House of the Seasons, comes from the dome, which contains frescoes representing the four seasons.

The Battle of Port Jefferson

On Pilgrimage weekend every year, Civil War re-enactors create a detailed and authentic armed conflict in the "Battle of Port Jefferson". You can attend the Period tea and style show for ladies, watch the safety and authenticity inspection for the Confederate and Union forces, and witness the battle first-hand - it's like stepping back in time! Click here for some photos from the battle.

Harriet Potter Memorial

Harriet Potter was once called "The Bravest Woman in the State", and her law suit against her husband's estate laid the groundwork for many women's rights today. You can read all about her at her entry on the Handbook of Texas Online website.

To visit her memorial, go north on 49 out of Jefferson for 19 miles. At the intersection with FM 727 you'll see the Historical Marker for Robert Potter. Turn right on 727, go 5 miles, then turn right where you see the sign that says, "Harriet Potter Memorial". It's just a little ways down that road - you can't miss it.

The Living Room Theater

And speaking of Harriet Potter, while you're in town, be sure to get tickets to see Marcia Thomas in her one-woman play "Texian Woman". The play is about Harriet Potter's life, and is told through the eyes of Ms. Potter herself (incredibly portrayed by Marcia). It starts out with the frail, old Harriet in her final year, and takes several leaps back to the her younger days of her fascinating life. You MUST see this play while you're in town - it's wonderful! Seating is limited, and the performance that we attended was sold out, so get your tickets in advance.

Turning Basin River Tour

The Big Cypress River winds from Caddo lake up to Jefferson - in fact, the riverboats from New Orleans took this route to bring travelers and products into Texas. The good folks at Turning Basin Tours have been guiding visitors down the bayou for sixteen years, and provided us with an hour-long trip. You'll be treated to a very relaxing time, and get to see all manner of vegetation and wildlife. Stories from the history of the river and Jefferson itself round out the excursion.

Caddo Lake

Caddo Lake is just a short drive away from Jefferson. It's mysteriously beautiful, and you'll fall in love with all the cypress trees and Spanish moss.

Scarlett O'Hardy's
Gone with the Wind Museum

This classic old movie comes to life with memorabilia, life-sized costumes, and countless other things associated with the movie. You'll find everything from the historical to the commercial products that used the movie as a selling tool on display. Allow yourself plenty of time to look around when you visit!
If you're a fan of the classic movie, you'll love this museum. It has hundreds of items on display: costume reproductions, rare books and posters, autographs, memorabilia, and even seats from Lowe's Grand Theatre in Atlanta, GA, where the movie was premiered. Be sure to stop there on your visit to Jefferson, and check them out online now.

Jefferson Historical Society & Museum

The museum is housed in the old Federal Building, and contains four floors of artifacts from Jefferson's past. There are paintings, rare antiques, a weaponry collection, Caddo Indian relics, historic papers, and many more items. This is a fascinating place to visit during a trip to in Jefferson - to see more, click here.

Jefferson Shopping

A slew of antique stores have replaced the variety of shops and businesses that once adorned the streets of Jefferson in the late 1800s. You can spend a lot of our time exploring these charming stores. Make sure you allow plenty of time to do your treasuring hunting in these quaint little stores - you may be surprised at the booty you will find!

Atalanta, Goddess of Speed

Jay Gould's private railroad car has been restored to its plush 1888 condition, and is available to tour in Jefferson. A true piece of history, it's ironic that the Atalanta ended up in Jefferson. After the town rejected a proposal for his railroad to come through, Jay Gould predicted the downfall of Jefferson and packed his bags for Dallas/Fort Worth. His extravagant railroad home rests in state across from the Excelsior House, and is worth a look.

Sterne Fountain

We've heard several different stories about this fountain erected in 1913. It has six different drinking outlets, two at each of three different levels: one for humans, one for horses, and one for dogs. It's too bad that we didn't have our bassets Murphy and Samantha with us, because they could have enjoyed a cool drink as well. The statue is of Hebe, the Greek Goddess of Youth. That's fitting, because a visit to Jefferson certainly rejuvenates us!

Hebe, the Goddess of Youth

Hebe is the goddess of youth, and the daughter of Zeus and Hera. She poured the nectar of the gods on the Olympus (from the urn depicted in this statue) until Ganymede replaced her. Hebe also prepared Ares' bath, and helped Hera to her chariot. After Heracles became a god, he married her. The Romans called her Juventas ("youth"). She was portrayed as a young woman, wearing a sleeveless dress. On various vases she is shown as cup bearer of the gods, or as bride of Heracles. Famous was the --now lost -- statue of Hebe, made of ivory and gold, by Naucydes (brother of Polycletus) in the 5th century B.C.

Jefferson Gas Light Company

Text from Historical Marker: "Jefferson Gas Light Company, Chartered 1870 for public and domestic service, used retorts - 7 foot iron drums with small necks - to make illuminating gas (one retort stood on this site.) Loaded with pine knots and rich pine wood, a retort was heated. Its gas was forced into mains by use of a pressure drum. Street lights on hollow posts 300 feet apart were 10-candle glass globes, lighted by a man on a ladder, these and gaslights in houses gave Jefferson - then largest inland port and second largest city in Texas - the state's first gaslight system."

Jefferson by Carriage

One fabulous way to see Jefferson is to tour the city by carriage. You can reserve a ride right outside of the Jefferson Hotel, but the schedule fills up fast! Tom, your guide, is knowledgable about the city and a lot of fun. He even provids blankets on a chilly evening.

The Turning Basin

Back when steamships would come up the Big Cypress Bayou from New Orleans, this is the place that they would turn around to head back. Once a turn-around basin, it is now a popular fishing spot, and a starting point for tours along the river.

Town Parks

There are several parks in town, giving Jefferson the perfect "home town" feel. It's extremely relaxing to be walking through the old historic buildings and suddenly find a relaxing, green park like this.

Caddo Grocery

For another way to see this part of East Texas, head off to the Caddo Grocery in the small town of Uncertain, Texas. You might recognize the town's name from a Guy Clark song describing the community. At Caddo Grocery you can book a personal tour of Caddo Lake, one of the treasures of East Texas.

Caddo Lake

Once you get out on the lake, you'll be struck by the haunting beauty of the cypress trees. This photo was taken during the winter season, so you can only imagine how beautiful how it is when the trees start to bud out.

Enjoying the Tour

It was a little cool out on the lake during this particular tour, but we'd brought the appropriate clothes to enjoy the trip. It is part boat ride, part history lesson, and a huge slice of the beauty of nature.

The Government Ditch

This is only one of the features of the lake tour, and is a man-made passage through the cypress groves. There is apparently a lot of speculation as to just why it was built, but is just one of the interesting stories that we heard about the lake. This tour might very well be one of the highlights of your Jefferson trip.

The Annual Port of Jefferson Rod Run and Car Show

For all you car enthusiasts, the Rod Run and Car Show every Spring is worth attending. The cars are packed with power, and fully detailed. You can easily spend the day taking in all the cars and talking to their owners. Click here to see some photos.

The Jefferson Jimplecute is the newspaper that serves the city, and you can pick up this week's copy at the Jimplecute office, at the General Store, or several other places around town. But what is a "Jimplecute"? Well, under the masthead of the paper is the legend: "Join Industry, Manufacturing, Planting, Labor, Energy (and) Capital (in) Unity Together Everlasting." I've heard that this wasn't the orgin of the name, but who knows... it's a must-read during your trip to Jefferson! Click here to visit their website!

4th of July in Jefferson!

For the most patriotic, enjoyable, family-fun fourth of July, spend the holiday in Jefferson! There are contests and games for the kids, a cake auction where the bidding gets fast and furious, an orchestra in the gazebo playing American themes, and a fireworks display that will take your breath away. Oh, and of course, there are hot dogs, snow cones, soda pops and many other goodies to make your mouth water. You've never seen a July 4th celebration and a slice of Americana like this! Want to see some photos from the celebration? Click here.

Caddo Lake Steamboat Company

With a quick drive out to Uncertain, Texas on Caddo Lake, you can board a genuine steamboat for an hour-and-a-half narrated tour of Texas' only natural lake. The cypress trees and Spanish moss provides a hauntingly beautiful backdrop for the trip. You can find out more about the Caddo Lake Steamboat Company at their website. To see photos of our cruise on Caddo, click here.

Jefferson Ghost Walk

No trip to Jefferson, "the most haunted city in Texas", is complete without taking the Jefferson Ghost Walk. It meets on Austin Street right downtown. You can get more information by clicking on this link to their website. You'll spend an hour and a half walking the streets of historic old Jefferson hearing about the spirits that haunt this famous town. This is a "must see" while in Jefferson!

A Taste of Jefferson

Grab your plate, loosen your belt a notch or two, and get ready for a festival of food like you've never seen before! The third Sunday in October is a date that you'll want to mark on your calendar - click here to see photos from the Taste of Jefferson.

The Old Store & Fudge Shop

While you're exploring the historic downtown area, you may notice an incredibly sweet aroma floating through the air on Walnut Street. The source is a great place named The Old Store & Fudge Shop. For a closer look inside, click here.

The Boo Run

The Boo Run Benefit is a fund-raiser for child burn victims that attracts 30,000 motorcycle enthusiasts to Jefferson. It's impressive to see all the various bikes - from the brutes to the beautiful. Click here to see some photos from the event.

A wonderfully relaxing place!

No kidding, Jefferson is the perfect place to get away and relax. There are parks with gazebos, a peaceful atmosphere, and the friendliest people that you'll ever find!

If you'd like more information on the city of Jefferson, TX, you can contact the chamber of commerce at 903.665.2672


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