Texas Forest Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Our Stories

  • City of LufkinCity of Lufkin
  • Oak Grove Cemetery, NacogdochesOak Grove Cemetery, Nacogdoches
  • Joplin Mural, TexarkanaJoplin Mural, Texarkana
  • Texas State Railroad, February 25, 1894Texas State Railroad, February 25, 1894

The Golden Age of Steam Lives on at Texas State Railroad

Explore the origins of the beloved and famous Texas State Railroad, from prison production lines to a must-visit East Texas excursion.

Sour Lake's Favorite Son

Perhaps the Forest Trail Region’s most memorable citizen (and maybe the state’s as well) is Sam Houston. Leader of victorious troops at the Battle of San Jacinto, Republic of Texas’ first elected President, then Senator, and finally Governor, Houston makes most overachievers seem like mere lay-abouts.

Outlaws and Legends of the Big Thicket

The natural characteristics of the historic Big Thicket in east Texas made it an ideal setting for ghost stories and outlaw legends. The Thicket was once over a million acres in size according to some estimates, comprised of dense woodlands described as a convergence of eastern hardwood forests, prairies, and the Gulf coastal plains. Before the lumber and oil industries reduced the Thicket to a patchwork of its former self, the region was composed of dense vegetation populated by bear, wolves, panthers, and a remarkable variety of unique plants. It was also a perfect place to hide. 


Prison history in the Forest Trail Region isn’t just about putting away the bad guy. The region’s Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville was, in fact, the first of its kind for the state, opening in 1849. Up until the early 1840’s, Texas communities maintained their own jailhouses, caught, tried, and convicted their own criminals, and carried out their own executions, probably not an altogether good idea considering the unreliability of evidence and witnesses in a rowdy, pre-statehood environment. 


Although hog numbers weren’t consequential on the Spanish mission livestock inventories in Texas (in fact, swine were rarely mentioned) hogs were nevertheless introduced to the region courtesy of colonization. Hogs, being an Old World species, couldn’t have arrived to the New World any other way. But once the state’s hog population finally got started it had nowhere to go but up.