Named for Thomas Jefferson in 1841 when Texas was a Republic, Jefferson was a steamboat port in the New Orleans trade and a port of entry for thousands of pioneers who were beginning new lives in the vast wilderness of early Texas.

Located in the Cypress Valley on Big Cypress Bayou, Jefferson had waterway connections to the ports of New Orleans, St. Louis and beyond. Passengers on glamourous steamboats could arrive and set foot on Texas soil for the first time in Jefferson before traveling west by stagecoaches and wagon trains to develop their own fortunes and to create their own Texas legends.

By 1873, Jefferson was one of the largest cities in Texas. Misfortune came to Jefferson when an ancient natural log jam in the Red River which had backed water into Caddo Lake and Big Cypress Bayou was removed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The lake and bayou began to drain and caused shipping by steamboat to be in jeopardy. With the loss of transportation and commerce, Jefferson became a small town which retained its architectural gems from the golden era of steamboating. Without pretention, Jefferson retained a port mentality culture for welcoming people from other places, both near and far. 

Jefferson played a significant role in the settlement of the West and in our Nation’s manifest destiny for a coast to coast America. Today, Jefferson, as a community, is creating history. With a safe, healthy lifestyle, it provides a good working example for the reinvention of other communities in America, both rural and urban.