Lufkin (population 33,863) is worth visiting for its unique role as a major logging town in Texas’s history. Founded in 1882 as a stop on the Houston, East and West Texas Railway, the town was named for Abraham P. Lufkin, a Galveston cotton merchant and close friend of the railroad company president.
The construction of railroad lines in the early 1880s allowed access to the forests’ interiors and the lumber industry and regional economy began to flourish. In fact, between 1890 and 1900, the forest industry contributed more to Texas’s economy than any other industry, including the traditional stronghold markets of cattle and cotton.
As a result, lumber “company towns” flourished in the Lufkin area. The corporations provided jobs for men and prioritized family life by building and advocating schools, churches, and medical facilities. Often, the workers were paid in coupons and credits redeemable for merchandise and services in the company town facilities. Although some sawmill workers were later drawn to the oil fields for higher wages, many men chose to stay with their families in the lumber company towns since they were good places to raise a family in a community environment.
The lumber industry continues to play a significant role in Lufkin’s economy. Each year, the region produces more than a million board feet of saw timber as well as a significant quantity of pulpwood from the nearby pine and hardwood forests.
Visitors, especially antique shoppers and history buffs, are drawn to downtown Lufkin’s quaint mix of restaurants and retail shops. A walking tour showcases several remarkable historic buildings, including the 1925 Pines Theater and the location of the first Brookshire Brothers grocery store. Along the way, look for the five colorful murals by artist Lance Hunter depicting historic businesses and stories from the area.
© Andy Rhodes from Moon Texas, 6th Edition