CHEROKEE COUNTY – Looking for fun and inexpensive stuff to do during Spring Break, slated March 14-18 for public schools in Cherokee County? Several sites are open and families can enjoy what they’re offering.
Find a trove of treasures
Get lost in the riches of Cherokee County and Texas with visits to local museums.
In Rusk, the Heritage Center of Cherokee County, Texas, is a walk back in yester-year with displays including those on Rusk High School, Rusk State Hospital, area military veterans who died in service, the Cherokeean Herald and New Birmingham. The museum, located at 208 S. Henderson St., is open from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and from 1-5 p.m. Sunday. Tours also can be arranged by contacting executive director Betty Marcontell at 903-714-8685.
The Vanishing Texana Library, 300 S. Bolton St., offers an eclectic slice of life in Texas, with displays encompassin both Jacksonville history and that of Texas, such as a 10,000-year-old Mastadon tooth discovered nearly a century ago in Nacogdoches and became the first item gifted to the museum. Visitors also can find memoriabilia from the now-defunct Lon Morris College and Fred Douglass school, the former a Methodist junior college that shuttered in 2012 due to financial woes, the latter closed and its students absorbed into the local schools due to integration in the early 1970s. Museum hours are 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays. While admission is free for both museums, donations are gladly accepted.
Located in Bullard, the American Freedom Museum is a 15,000-square-foot museum open Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and offering various items that traces American military heritage with artifacts and equipment from the 1700s to the present. Outside are various memorials honoring those who served in the military, including those who died in action. The museum is located at 22450 FM 2493 and also is open groups of 12 or more who want to arrange weekday tours. Entrance fees vary from $8 adults, $7 seniors (ages 65 and older) to $5 for youths ages 6 and older. All others enter free, including veterans and active military (who must show ID).
Visit your community library
Most libraries will be open during their regular hours of operation for individuals interested in finding books, using computers, doing research and the like.
In addition to its regular programs, the Jacksonville Public Library – at 525 E. Commerce St. – will host a 2 p.m. showing of the 1994 animated version of “The Lion King” Monday, March 14. Children’s story time is at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 16. Then, on Thursday, March 17, Family Movie Night kicks off at 5 p.m., with a showing of “The Emperor’s New Groove.”
Jacksonville Public Library’s regular hours are from noon-8 p.m. Monday/Thursday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday/Wednesday/Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 903-586-7664.
Other libraries operating throughout Cherokee County include:
• Troup – Cameron-J. Jarvis Troup Municipal Library, 102 S. Georgia St. Hours are from 1-5 p.m. Tuesday/Wednesday/Friday, from 3-7 p.m. Thursday and from 9 a.m.-1 pm. Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday. Call 903-842-3101 to learn more.
• Bullard – Bullard Community Library, 211 W. Main St. The library is open Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; on Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday from 10 am. to 6 p.m. It is closed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. To learn more, call 903-894-6125.
• Rusk – Rusk Public/Singletary Memorial Library, 207 E. 6th St. Library hours are Monday/Thursday, from 9 a.m.-7 p.m., on Tuesday/Wednesday/ Friday from 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday. Contact staff at 903-683-5916.
• Alto – Stella Hill Memorial Library, 200 W. San Antonio St. Regular hours are from 2-5 p.m. Tuesday/Thursday, 4-7 p.m. Wednesday and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday. Call 936-858-4343 to learn more.
• Wells – Rube Sessions Memorial Library, 298 Rusk Ave. The library is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday/Friday, and closed Saturday/Sunday/Monday. For more information, call 396-867-4757.
A Cherokee County History Trails map that was created several years ago by the county’s Historical Commission gives location of all the state historic markers within Cherokee County. The markers provide visitors a quick summary of events that took place at that site, such as the last home of Bowles, the great chief of the Cherokee Nation, the Mewshaw State Sawmill and Maydelle CCC Camp and El Camino Real/the King’s Highway. Maps are available at Chamber of Commerce offices in Rusk and Jacksonville, as well as the Cherokee County Historical Commission office in Rusk.
The great outdoors
Bullard Kids’ Park is a free outdoor facility designed by local school children and features separate play areas for older and younger children that have restricted access to provide an additional layer of safety. It is located north of the city’s downtown, just off FM 2493.
Loves Lookout is a scenic overview located on a high point in Cherokee County that features an information center located inside of a building constructed to resemble a tomato packing shed, a pavilion with a vista where, on a clear day, folks can see 35 miles in the distance. The site also has covered picnic sites and a spot where tourists can let their dogs stretch their legs.
While a museum at Caddoan Mounds State Historic Site is in the process of being rebuilt after it was destroyed by a 2019 tornado, visitors can see Snake Woman’s Garden, mound sites and grounds at 1649 Texas Highway 21, west of Alto. The three earthen mounds are part of a Caddo Indian village and ceremonial center that overlooks the Neches River, established more than 1,200 years ago.
A historic site that is part of the City of Rusk parks, Jim Hogg Historic Site features a scale replica of the birthplace and house of Texas’ first native-born governor. The park is day-use only, and includes an interpretive trail, playground and picnic area. It is located off U.S. Highway 84, two miles east of Rusk.
The 661-acre Mission Tejas State Park offers camping, picnicking, hiking, and fishing, along with scheduled programs by park personnel. While there is a $3 entrance fee for the 19343 State Highway 21 East park in Grapeland, youths ages 12 and younger enter free. Programs are offered free of charge. The park is open daily from 8:15 a.m.-4:30 p.m.