Forest Trail Region

Rich iron ore deposits were the basis of this historic town’s early economy. Restored Victorian commercial buildings on the downtown square and the ghost town of New Birmingham, an ill-fated iron boomtown, are reminiscent of that past. A 560-foot bridge, located in Footbridge Park, was built in 1889 to enable people living east of the valley to cross the rising waters of One Eye Creek to get to town. Authentic steam engines, replica depots, and magnificent scenery draw tourists and Hollywood filmmakers to the Texas State Railroad. Puffs of steam, a rhythmic rocking motion, and the sound of wheels on tracks accompany the 25-mile train ride through scenic piney woods between Rusk and Palestine. Historically, the railroad belonged to the Texas Prison System. Prisoners laid the tracks in 1893 to haul iron ore and wood from convict work camps to smelting furnaces at the East Texas State Penitentiary in Rusk. Just outside town is Jim Hogg Historic Site, a day-use city park that features a replica of the log cabin birthplace of the Texas governor who served from 1891–95.