Things to Do in Texas Piney Woods
- Things to Do in Texas Piney Woods
- Stephen F. Austin Mast Arboretum
- Caldwell Zoo
- Harrold’s Model Train Museum
- Heritage Plaza
- Gregg County Historical Museum
- Longview Museum of Fine Arts
- Marshall Depot
- The Hudnall Planetarium
- Howard House Museum – Palestine, Texas
- Museum for East Texas Culture
- McClure-McReynolds-Fowler House
- Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility – Palestine, Texas
- Caddoan Mounds State Historic Site – Alto, Texas
- Governor Hogg Shrine Historic Site – Quitman, Texas
- Heritage Village – Woodville, Texas
- Davey Dogwood Park – Palestine, Texas
A trip to East Texas will transport you to a tranquil setting. You’ll be surprised and satisfied by the massive trees that make up its quiet forests, historical adventures spanning from the paranormal to the majestic, and wondrous special stop-offs. The Piney Woods of Texas has a long history, dating back to Native American settlements and, possibly, the first settlers in Texas – in Nacogdoches. Travel to East Texas’ piney woods and you’ll find yourself in a place unlike anything else in the Lone Star State. The Texas Piney Woods region contains rolling hills, pine forests, and magnificent lakes, as well as the warmth of Southern hospitality.
The East Texas region is largely a dense pine forest, thus the name Pineywoods. This forest is part of a bigger forest that stretches into Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. The terrain is rolling, with wetter lowlands that are home to hardwood trees like elm, mesquite, and ash.
Stephen F. Austin Mast Arboretum
This on-campus garden spills over more than 19 acres and lies on a portion of the Lanana Creek Trail. Enjoy a wide diversity of plant life, along with a children’s garden and an azalea garden.
This 50-acre zoo annually plays host to over 675,000 visitors, who are offered the unique experience of viewing animals form around the world in fascinating re-creations of their natural environments.
Harrold’s Model Train Museum
Visitors will find an outstanding private collection of model trains made of wood, cast iron, battery-operated, windup, and railroad memorabilia in all scales (G, O, S, HO, N, and Z). Tours conducted personally by Mr. Harrold Little
A historic park in the downtown district portrays Longview’s first 100 years on etched walls.
Gregg County Historical Museum
Displays centered on timber, farming, oil, railroads, schools, business, and commerce. Room scenes including the bank president’s office, a dentist’s office, an early 1900s parlor and bedroom, the interior of a log cabin and a general mercantile store.
Longview Museum of Fine Arts
The museum houses a comprehensive collection of paintings, drawings, prints, photography, and sculpture focusing on artists primarily in the Southwest.
The T&P Depot now combines historical preservation with modern functionality. The first floor serves as an Amtrak station, and the second floor houses the T&P Railroad Museum, including a gift shop, which pays homage to the T&P’s legacy in Marshall.
The Hudnall Planetarium
The Hudnall Planetarium boasts a 30-foot diameter, domed theater seating 100, an exhibit area, and an assortment of telescopes including a new solar telescope.
Howard House Museum – Palestine, Texas
Howard House Museum and other sites in – Palestine, Texas
Take a trip back in time and visit the Howard House Museum to see Greek Revival style construction built in the mid 1880′s by Judge Reuben Reeves who then sold it to the Howard family in 1850.
The museum has exhibits from the time and period furnishings that will transport you back to the time when things were a bit quieter and the pace slower.
The museum has been designated a Texas Historic Landmark. The house remained in the Howard family until it was sold to the city in 1963.
- Location: 1011 N Perry St., Palestine, Texas
- Phone: 903-729-5094
- Open: Saturday and Sunday only from 12 Noon – 7 PM
Museum for East Texas Culture
Museum for East Texas Culture is another stop you can make while you are visiting Palestine. The Museum opened in 1982 in the old Palestine High School building which was designed and built-in 1915/16. There is a railway room the Fire Department Room, The Reagan Campbell Room, the Main Floor Hallway. There is also a huge collection of business and commercial historical documents as well as genealogy records stored here.
- Location: 400 S. Micheaux St., Palestine, Texas
- Open: Monday – Saturday 10 – 5, Sunday 1 – 4.
- Admission: $1
This house, located at 921 N. Perry St., Palestine, was built in 1849 by Judge McClure. He and another man started the first newspaper in the region, the “Trinity Advocate.”
The house was built as a center passage dwelling but the next owner, Zachariah McReynolds, changed it to a U shape plan in 1884. McReynolds was a confederate veteran from the great state of Georgia. His daughter married John Reagan’s grandson, Colonel Godfrey Fowler. When they retired they returned to the house in 1934 when McReynolds died. The house is still in the McReynolds family’s possession.
Shelton Hall was formerly the Shelton Gin, one of the earliest Gins in Palestine. It began operations in the early 1840′s. It was originally the Eureka Cotton Gin and then later changed its name to the Morris Gin Company. Since the ginning season was a short one the gin only operated for a few months of the year.
- Location: Old Town Palestine, 304 E. Crawford, Palestine, Texas
Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility – Palestine, Texas
Located in Palestine this NASA facility is managed by the Physical Science Lab of New Mexico State University. The purpose of the balloon facility is to launch large (440 ft. diameter) unmanned, high altitude (120,000 ft), research balloons. These balloons have equipment suspended beneath them for which provides NASA with valuable information about what is going on high in the sky.
The balloons are made of a material that is the same type of polyethylene film that is used for plastic bags, about the same thickness as a sandwich bag. The balloon system includes the balloon, the parachute, and a payload that holds instruments to conduct the scientific measurements that help scientists collect data to answer important questions about the universe and beyond.
The same gas that is used in party balloons (helium) is used to fill these balloons. These large balloons can carry up to 8,000 pounds and fly 26 miles high and stay there for up to two weeks!
Types of research the balloons are used for:
* Cosmic Ray studies
* Gamma Ray and X-Ray Astronomy
* Optical and Ultra-Violet Astronomy
* Infrared Astronomy
* Atmospheric Sciences
* Micrometeorite Particles
The balloons from here have flown experiments for the following countries:
* Great Britain
* New Zealand
- Location: 1510 E FM 3224, Palestine, Texas 75803
- Phone: 903-729-0271
Caddoan Mounds State Historic Site – Alto, Texas
Visit the Past at the Caddoan Mounds State Historic Site. Texas has a long and wonderfully diverse history. Those who travel to the area around the city of Alto will find a wonderful place to visit. The Caddoan Mounds State Historic Site is one of the best archaeological sites in the State of Texas. If you have an interest in history, you can’t miss this attraction.
The almost 94-acre Park opened to the public in 1982 and was part of Texas Parks and Wildlife until 2008 when it became part of the Texas Historical Commission.
At the Park, you will find two ceremonials mounds and one burial mound. The Caddoan tribe, who lived in the area for 500 years beginning around the year 800 A.D., built these mounds. The two ceremonial mounds are very large, 300 by 350 feet, larger than the ceremonial tribes of many other Indian culture’s mounds are. The prehistoric mounds, as well as all of the various cultural items found within, are quite interesting.
In addition, you will be able to learn about the everyday life of the Caddo people. From exhibits and displays, you can learn about their religious ceremonies, learn how and why they built their mounds, and much more.
Also on the site is a reconstructed dwelling that represents the kind of structure where the Natives once lived. You will also be able to find a library of archeological reports that discuss the mounds, the tribes, and all of the different things on the site. While it is a library, none of the research materials are allowed off-site. Still, you will have plenty of time to look at them when visiting the Park.
People from all around Texas as well as other states come to the Caddoan Mounds State Historic Site to learn all about the mound-building culture that once inhabited the area. It is a great place to visit, full of history and culture. Everyone, regardless of his or her age, can benefit from a visit to the mounds.
Those who come to the Park will find that the admission is very reasonable. For adults it is $2, seniors pay $1, and those 12 years old and under are free. The Caddoan Mounds State Historic Site is open Tuesday through Sunday from 8:30AM to 4:30PM. Besides being closed on Mondays, the Park is also closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas.
Governor Hogg Shrine Historic Site – Quitman, Texas
Northwest of Tyler in Quitman in Wood County sites this shrine on 26.7 acres of land. The park was opened in 1950 and now is managed by the City of Quitman. The park was named after James Stephen Hogg, the state’s first Texas-born governor who was in office from 1891 to 1895. The museums on the site have items that belonged to the Hogg and Stinson families.
The Stinson home was constructed in 1869 and moved to his location (13 miles) in 1969. Even with the move the structure still contains 95 to 97% of the original lumber. In addition to the Stinson home being moved to the park the Old George Bridge was moved in 1986. This bridge was first used in early 1900;s. The bridge is a pony truss, a steel bridge. This type is no longer used by bridge builders today.
This is an unusual park since it has three museums located in it. There is the Stinson HOme, where Governor Hogg’s wedding was held; the Honeymoon Cottage where the Governor and Sallie Hogg first lived and Miss Ima Hogg Museum which serves as the park headquarters offices as well as having displays representing the history of the entire northeast Texas area. Some of these displays change every month.
The park offers picnic areas and two group picnic pavilions, restrooms without showers, a snack bar within an easy walking distance of 1 mile. There is a playground for the children and a 1/2 mile nature/interpretive trail called “Old Settlers Nature Trail.) Nature Trail has 23 stops and four-foot bridges along a half-mile trail. Not too long ago they added 13 trailer sites with 30/50 amp service with water, electricity, sewer, and cable TV. If you want to stay there you need to call in advance for reservations at 903-763-0405. Reservations are also needed for the group picnic sites for which you need to call the city of Quitman at 903-763-4045.
Open 7 days a week year-round except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
Office hours: Monday and Saturday 10 to 4 and Sunday 1 – 5.
Directions: Take US Hwy 69 north from Tyler to Mineola; then go north on State Highway 37 for about 8 miles to Quitman. The park is off State Highway 37 about 6 blocks south of the Wood County Courthouse.
Heritage Village – Woodville, Texas
Come and visit the living museum filled with everything from the 1800′s to the early 1900′s. You can visit the old blacksmith shop or check out the railroad depot. If you have never been to a livery stable then you will want to make sure and take a few minutes to visit here. There are log cabins that are just as they were during the 1800′s and early 1900′s.
Just think of what it would be like to have to take your team of horses into the blacksmith shop to get them new shoes so they can continue to work for you without you having to worry about splits and breaks in the hooves that would cripple the horse. This would take you at least a day while the shoe was made and put on the horse. While you are waiting for the blacksmith to finish his work you probably would want to go to some of the shops that are in town and buy the supplies that you will need for the next month or so.
Maybe you will need to go over to the depot to meet someone coming in for a visit, or maybe you just want to see the big steam engine roll into town. You may see someone interesting get off (now remember, a lot of this is what you can imagine it would be like in the 1800′s not what is really happening when you are visiting the village.) You can go back to the time when your imagination was fresh and you could think of all these wonderful things to do!
Go to the log cabins and see if you would have liked to live in them. The work that was required to keep a home going in those times was certainly more intense than it is today, there was wood to chop for cooking and heat, there was butter to be made from the cows you had to milk twice a day. There were eggs to pick daily and probably stalls that needed to be cleaned out and animals that needed to be fed.
The laundry that we throw into the automatic washer today would have had to have been washed by hand on a scrub board and hung out to dry. A bath would require the water to be heated (if there was a pump in the house, otherwise it would have to be hauled and then heated) and put into one of the copper washtubs where everyone in the family took a bath in the same bathwater, the cleanest washing first and the dirtiest washing last.
Then there were the rugs that needed to be made to keep the floor warm when the winter and the list goes on and on, but what this village will be able to show you is that there were really strong, hardworking people that lived during those times to make the Great State of Texas so wonderful today.
Come and visit, see all there is, go back in time through your imagination with the props that are there that show how the west was really won. Enjoy the experience and come back often.
The village hosts an array of different celebrations throughout the year for you to enjoy so regardless of when you get to the area, you will be able to enjoy the Heritage Village experience.
- Hours of Operation: Daily 9 – 5 except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Eve, New Years Day, and Easter.
- Admission: Adults: $4, Children under 12 $2.
- Guided tours are available with advanced notice. Senior discount and group rates are available upon request.
- School groups are welcome: For groups of 50 or more, the cost is $2 for students and $3 for chaperones and teachers.
- The senior’s rate of $14 includes a tour, a meal at Pickett House, and a gratuity. (Groups of 20 or more the bus driver is free.)
- Phone: 409-283-2272 or 800-323-0389
- Email: [email protected]
Davey Dogwood Park – Palestine, Texas
If you have ever wanted to just find someplace that is both beautiful and smells good then you really want to visit Davey Dogwood Park. Here you will find over 200 acres of peace with the rolling hills, the forests that bring out that wonderful smell of the dogwood tree (when in blossom), meadows to run in, and flowing streams to cool your feet after hiking through the beautiful area.
There are picnic areas for you to enjoy. Paved roads with overlooks make the drive through the park an easy outing for anyone.
This park is a featured area during the annual Texas Dogwood Trails, late March and early April. Jut north of Palestine on N. Link St.
- Location: 210 North Link St., Palestine, TX 75801
- Phone: 903-723-3014