Located just 11 miles outside Lufkin  in the small town of Diboll is a fascinating attraction known simply as The History Center (102 N. Temple St., 936/829-3543, www.thehistorycenteronline.com , 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Sat., free). Appropriately situated in Diboll, the oldest continually operated forest company site in Texas, the 12,000-square-foot History Center is technically a public archives facility dedicated to East Texas  history. But that makes it sound rather boring, which it’s not.
The vaguely named History Center did not get a specified moniker because organizers did not want it to be classified as simply a museum or a library. Although it contains many reference materials, it’s more than a research center. Likewise, it features artifacts, but it is not really a museum. It’s best described as a public history and archive center that collects, preserves, and explores the heritage of East Texas.
Visitors are immediately drawn to the facility by its exquisite woodwork, consisting of cypress walls preserved from the 1950s along with floors of locally harvested yellow pine. Exhibit panels feature remarkable century-old photos showcasing Diboll’s dynamic past as a lumber company town, an impressive collection of archives (including 70,000 photos, decades’ worth of community newspapers, lumber company log books), and an authentic 1920 Baldwin 68-ton steam locomotive where kids and adults can climb aboard to experience the immense satisfaction of sounding the authentic steam whistle.