Jefferson is a historic town in Marion County, in the Central Piney Woods of east Texas. A center of tourism, Jefferson identifies itself as the "Bed & Breakfast Capital of Texas", and is home to a number of popular attractions.
Founded in the mid-19th century as a riverport, Jefferson boomed as the furthest point inland that steamboats could reach in Texas. But the rise of the railroads and the draining of the bayous left Jefferson literally and figuratively high and dry. The town all but froze in time after the loss of its economic base, allowing for a beautifully preserved historical district. Walking through the brick-paved commercial streets and the Greek Revival residences is like going back in time to the 1880s.
U.S. Route 59 passes through Jefferson.
The nearest Amtrak and Greyhound connections are in Marshall, about 15 miles south.
- 1 Jefferson Carnegie Library, 301 W Lafayette St, ☏ . Of some 30 libraries funded by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in the state, this is one of four that still operates as a library.
- 2 Jefferson Historical Museum, 223 W Austin St, ☏ . An eclectic collection of local artifacts from Native American relics to Victorian household goods to Confederate memorabilia. Don't miss the model railroad next door, tickets can be combined. $3 to $10 based on age and package.
- 3 Museum of Measurement and Time, 301 N Polk St, ☏ . A collection of antique clocks, survey equipment, and measurement apparatus of all sorts, run by a friendly and knowledgeable couple. Free, donations welcomed.
- 4 Oakwood Cemetary, 501 N Line St. Well maintained funerary monuments dating back to the 1850s, including the grave of Diamond Bessie Moore, the victim in a sensationalized murder trial.
A prime attraction in Jefferson, catering to a range of interests and energy-levels, whether on foot or by rail, boat, or horse-drawn carriage.
- 1 The Grove Home Tour, 405 Moseley St, ☏ . While a comparatively modest example of Jefferson's nationally registered historic sites in terms of architecture, the Grove is celebrated on haunted house top-10 lists for its abundant paranormal activity. It is a private residence and tours are by appointment, but available daily. $6, no children under 10.
- Historic Jefferson Ghost Walk, 123 W. Austin St, ☏ . A night walking tour recounting historic tragedies, crimes, and local ghost stories by lantern light. Departs from the Kahn Saloon Friday and Saturday nights. Adults $15, 6-11 years $8.
- Port Jefferson History and Nature Center. A 40-acre environmental park along the riverfront, with walking trails along the sites of historic riverboat wharves and boardwalks through a bottomland forest.
- Jefferson Pilgrimage Weekend. An early May event that began in the 1940s as a home and garden tour, the Pilgrimage has grown to include a dramatization of the Diamond Bessie Murder Trial, Civil War reinactments of a speculative nature (as Union forces never reached Jefferson), and craft and garden fairs.
- Executive Inn and Suites, 200 South Walcott St, ☏ . Motel convenient to US 59, about 1 mile from the historic district. $90.
Bed and breakfasts
Befitting its monicker as B&B Capital of Texas, there are more than 20 converted homes in and around Jefferson.
- Steamboat Inn, 114 N. Marshall St, ☏ . One block from historic downtown. Six rooms available, child and pet friendly. $90 to $150.
|Routes through Jefferson|
|Houston ← Marshall ←||S N||→ Atlanta → Texarkana|
|END ←||W E||→ Karnack → END|