camping, downtown Livingston Texas, East Texas small towns, Gillilands, historic districts, Jasper County, KOA Brookeland, Lake Sam Rayburn area, Martin Dies Jr. State Park, Polk County, RVing, small town America, Texas, Texas Forest Trail, Tyler County, US 190, Woodville Arts District
Small town East Texas from Livingston & Woodville to Jasper
Our journey continued after leaving the KOA at Lake Livingston where we had a great time and enjoyed ourselves very much. We headed out of the area and over the US 190 starting in the town of Livingston. This entire journey takes place in what the state bills as the Texas Forest Trail Region.
This is another small Texas town, Livingston, that has a small historic core and some clearly mid-century one story buildings beyond that at the intersection of US 190 and US 59. There’s also a railway line that runs through the town and it is the seat of Polk County government.
It is a nice stop for a leg stretch or a bite to eat and a little bit of meandering around. There is an old cinema, The Fain, that is typical of small town America on one of the side streets. Parking was not a problem at all for the RV and we stopped and took the dogs for a walk in the town center.
None of the websites associated with Livingston really provide a good experience for planning travel to the area but the Lake Livingston area and surrounding towns are really quite attractive and suitable for increasing tourism if packaged and promoted well.
A bit further down the US 190 is the small town of Woodville. It has an interesting pioneer village which we did not visit but could be included in your visit through the area. It is yet another county and another county seat, this time Tyler County, and has a small arts district that clearly shows the town is involved in improving the appeal to residents and tourists alike.
The Tyler County Art League has a small gallery there. There is also the Emporium for the Arts located in the town’s center though we didn’t stop to see it – their mission is to “support the visual and performing arts for the cultural growth and enjoyment of the community.
Jasper and Brookeland
The area is known as the Jasper – Lake Sam Rayburn area and, while we didn’t get to really visit the town of Jasper, which wasn’t incorporated until 1926, it is the site of the East Texas Regional Art Center. There is also some unique shopping in the town. Jasper is also the seat of government for Jasper County, Texas. The courthouse sits in the midst of the old town center, as opposed to the primary intersection of US 190 and US 96 which is more of a suburban center of town.
There are mostly one and two story structures along the Main Street to the north of the primary intersection of the town and you could easily spend some time walking around the town discovering some interesting shops, restaurants and cafes that are centered around the court house.
We traveled further north up US 96 to Brookeland where we spent the night at the local KOA/Brookeland. It is open year-round with a pool and other outdoor activities and is on Lake Sam Rayburn. The campground itself is fairly wooded and they will supply you with firewood. The staff was very friendly and helpful.
If you don’t have an RV, they do have cabins to rent and it is a pleasant place to stay. The next leg of our journey took us into Louisiana and nearby Martin Dies Jr. State Park. The Brookeland KOA is a great place to base yourself for visiting this area.
Enjoy the journey!