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Gainesville, Texas
Highway 82, Lawrence Street
Highway 82, Lawrence Street
"The Star of North Texas"
Location of Gainesville, Texas
Location of Gainesville, Texas
Country United StatesUnited States
State TexasTexas
County Cooke
 • Total 19.04 sq mi (49.32 km2)
 • Land 19.02 sq mi (49.25 km2)
 • Water 0.03 sq mi (0.07 km2)
751 ft (229 m)
 • Total 16,002
 • Density 841/sq mi (324.9/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s) 940
FIPS code 48-27984
GNIS feature ID 1373791

Gainesville is a city in and the county seat of Cooke County, Texas, United States. The population was 16,002 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Texoma region.


Founded in 1850, the city of Gainesville was established on a 40-acre (16 ha) tract of land donated by Mary E. Clark. City residents called their new community "Liberty", which proved short-lived, as a Liberty, Texas, already existed. It was suggested by one of the original settlers of Cooke County, Colonel William Fitzhugh, that the town be named after General Edmund Pendleton Gaines. Gaines, a United States general under whom Fitzhugh had served, had been sympathetic with the Texas Revolution.

The first hint of prosperity arrived with the Butterfield Overland Mail stagecoach in September 1858, bringing freight, passengers, and mail. During the Civil War, the Great Hanging at Gainesville, a controversial trial and hanging of 40 suspected Union loyalists, brought the new town to the attention of the state and came close to ripping the county apart. In the decade after the Civil War, Gainesville had its first period of extended growth, catalyzed by the expansion of the cattle industry in Texas. Gainesville, only 7 miles (11 km) from the Oklahoma border, became a supply point for cowboys driving herds north to Kansas. The merchants of Gainesville reaped considerable benefits from the passing cattle drives.

Within 20 years, the population increased from a few hundred to more than 2,000. Gainesville was incorporated on February 17, 1873, and by 1890 was established as a commercial and shipping point for area ranchers and farmers. In the late 1870s two factors drastically altered the historic landscape of North Central Texas. The first of these was barbed wire. In 1875, Henry B. Sanborn, a regional sales agent for Joseph Glidden's Bar Fence Company of DeKalb, Illinois, traveled to Texas. That autumn, he chose Gainesville as one of his initial distribution points for the newly invented barbed wire which his employer had patented the previous year. On his first visit to Gainesville, he sold ten reels of the wire to the Cleaves and Fletcher hardware store—the first spools of barbed wire ever sold in Texas.

World War II had an enormous impact on Cooke County. Camp Howze, an army infantry training camp, was established on some of the best farmland in the county. The construction of the camp helped bring Cooke County out of the Great Depression by providing jobs. The county population doubled and the area boomed. In the last several years, tourism has brought renewed prosperity to the area. The return of Amtrak on June 14, 1999, brought Gainesville back full circle to one of the original sources of its growth and success. In the early 1990s, Gainesville had 600 businesses and a population of 14,587. In 2000, the population was 15,538, with the population after the 2010 Census being just over 16,000 people.


Gainesville is home to a courthouse with an octagonal rotunda topped by stained glass, erected in 1910. "The 1912 Cooke County Courthouse was designed by the Dallas firm of Lang & Witchell. The courthouse was designed in the Beaux Arts style with some Prairie Style features and influences from famed Chicago architect Louis Sullivan. The courthouse in the center of Gainesville features black and white marbled interiors and a tall central atrium capped by a stained glass skylight under the tower." The courthouse is undergoing a major renovation project, resulting in the move of many county offices to surrounding buildings; thus allowing for construction to take place.

Camp Howze, World War II

Gainesville was once home to Camp Howze, one of the largest infantry replacement training centers during World War II. Only a few remnants of the camp continue to exist, but are now located on private property.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 2,667
1890 6,594 147.2%
1900 7,874 19.4%
1910 7,624 −3.2%
1920 8,648 13.4%
1930 8,915 3.1%
1940 9,651 8.3%
1950 11,246 16.5%
1960 13,083 16.3%
1970 13,830 5.7%
1980 14,081 1.8%
1990 14,256 1.2%
2000 15,538 9.0%
2010 16,002 3.0%
Est. 2015 16,292 1.8%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 15,538 people, 5,969 households, and 4,005 families residing in the city. The population density was 914.1 people per square mile (352.9/km²). There were 6,423 housing units at an average density of 377.9 per square mile (145.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 80.77% White, 6.00% African American, 1.33% Native American, 0.55% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 9.09% from other races, and 2.23% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 17.47% of the population.

There were 5,969 households out of which 33.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.2% were married couples living together, 13.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.9% were non-families. 29.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.13.

In the city, the population was spread out with 27.2% under the age of 18, 10.9% from 18 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 19.3% from 45 to 64, and 16.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 88.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,571, and the median income for a family was $37,137. Males had a median income of $30,480 versus $21,459 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,154. About 17.0% of families and 20.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.5% of those under age 18 and 12.7% of those age 65 or over.


Gainesville is located slightly east of the center of Cooke County at 33°37′49″N 97°8′25″W / 33.63028°N 97.14028°W / 33.63028; -97.14028 (33.630360, -97.140323). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 19.0 square miles (49.3 km2), of which 19.0 square miles (49.2 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km2), or 0.15%, is water.

The town is located at the interchange of two major thoroughfares: U.S. Route 82 going east/west overpassing Interstate 35 (north/south). It is an exurb of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, 71 miles (114 km) north of the center of Dallas and 65 miles (105 km) north of the center of Fort Worth. It is also a part of the Texoma region. Nearby towns and cities include:

  North: Thackerville, Oklahoma
  South: Valley View
  East: Whitesboro
  West: Lindsay

Weather and climate

Gainesville usually enjoys sunny weather similar to the rest of Texas with the exception of a few natural disasters.

On June 18, 2007, thunderstorms moved through Gainesville, resulting in intense flooding. Over 7 inches (180 mm) fell in Gainesville and nearby Sherman. On June 20 around 5:00 a.m., straight lines winds hit and Wichita Falls had winds up to 94 mph (151 km/h). Much of the center of the town was flooded and several people died.

Parks, recreation, and tourism

Gainesville has a zoo, a historic train station, and a 45-acre (180,000 m2) fully integrated soccer complex. It has miniature ¼-size replica steam engine passenger train which was disassembled from its former location and then reassembled in Leonard Park for viable transportation for up to 50 passengers for tours around the Park. Leonard Parks' wooden playground was expanded in 1999 and is located near the entrance to the Frank Buck Zoo. Gainesville hosts year-round adult softball for both men's league and coed league, a couple of seasons of sand volleyball, and a season of indoor basketball.

City parks include:

  • BP Douglas Park
  • Edison Park
  • Forsythe Transportation Skate Park
  • Georgia Davis Park
  • Heritage Park North
  • Heritage Park South
  • Home Grown Hero Walking Trail
  • Jaycee Park
  • Keneteso Park
  • Leonard Park
  • Medal of Honor Park
  • Moffett Park
  • Pecan Creek Park
  • Gainesville Tennis Court Area
  • Washington Park

Annual events

  • Every April, Gainesville hosts recipients of the Medal of Honor with a formal banquet and citywide parade. The Medal of Honor Host City Program will pay for travel, lodging and other expenses for any Medal of Honor recipient interested in attending. The recipients make appearances at schools and public events to talk about their service to their country.
  • Depot Day: In October, Gainesville hosts a train themed carnival.



Gainesville has a historic rail depot. It is served by Amtrak's Heartland Flyer, which operates daily in both directions between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth.


Gainesville is served by the Gainesville Municipal Airport, a publicly owned and supported airport that was established following the transfer of the Camp Howze Army Airfield to the City of Gainesville. This followed the closing of Camp Howze in the mid to late 1940s. A general use airport, it also serves as the site of an annual balloon festival put on by the North Texas Medical Center Foundation.

Roads and highways

Major highways are

Parts of Interstate 35 through Gainesville do not contain any frontage roads. Frontage roads approaching the U.S. 82 overpass were not added until 2013. During this time, the overpass was expanded to make room for U-turn lanes.

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