Palestine, Texas facts for kids
Palestine City Hall
Location of Palestine, Texas
|• Total||19.6 sq mi (50.7 km2)|
|• Land||19.4 sq mi (50.2 km2)|
|• Water||0.2 sq mi (0.5 km2)|
|Elevation||482 ft (147 m)|
|• Density||965/sq mi (372.7/km2)|
|Time zone||Central (CST) (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|GNIS feature ID||1364714|
Palestine (// PAL-e-steen) is a city in Anderson County, Texas, in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 18,712. It is the county seat. Palestine was named for Palestine, Illinois, by Daniel Parker.
Palestine is a relatively small town located in the Piney Woods equidistant from the major airport cities of Dallas, Houston and Shreveport and is notable for its natural beauty characterized by a magnificent dogwood floral blooming season, for 23 historical sites on the National Register of Historic Places and is the western terminus of the Texas State Railroad, a steam and diesel railroad museum operating between Palestine and Rusk.
The largest employer is the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which employs more than 3,900. Another 1,600 work at two Wal-Mart distribution centers. Other significant employers include a thriving medical and healthcare sector that tends to the large population of retirees.
Palestine was one of the East Texas towns that received much of the debris from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, where seven astronauts were killed. Palestine's NASA Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (renamed after the shuttle crash), has flown 1,700 high-altitude balloons for universities and research agencies.
In 1846, the Texas Legislature created Palestine to serve as a seat for the newly established Anderson County. James R. Fulton, Johnston Shelton and William Bigelow were hired by the first Anderson County commissioners to survey the surrounding land and lay out a town site, consisting of a central courthouse square and the surrounding 24 blocks. Antedating the town was a temporary trading post in operation since at least 1843. It grew significantly following the arrival of the railroad in the 1870s. It had a population of over 10,000 by 1898.
Palestine, Texas was named so by Micham Main, who named the new town in honor of his hometown of Palestine, Illinois.
The Texas State Railroad is a state park that allows visitors to ride trains pulled by diesel and steam locomotives between the park's Victorian-style depots and through the forests of East Texas. It dates back to 1883, with the completion of the Rusk Penitentiary near the city of Rusk. Built with inmate labor, the original purpose of the railroad was to transport raw materials for the iron smelter located at the Rusk Penitentiary. In 1906, the line reached Maydelle, and by 1909, the line was completed when it reached Palestine. Regularly-scheduled train service ceased in 1921, the line was leased to various railroad companies until 1969, and the Texas Legislature turned the railroad into a state park in 1972.
The International Railroad and the Houston and Great Northern Railroad met in Palestine in 1872 and merged in 1873 to become the International and Great Northern Railroad (IGN). The IGN later became part of the Missouri Pacific Railroad, then ultimately Union Pacific Railroad. In 1875, IGN President H.M. Hoxie moved to Palestine and built the first Victorian Mansion. Merchant owners and railroad executives built other elaborate homes along South Sycamore Street. The IGN built a major depot in 1892 and a modern passenger coach shop, in 1902, making Palestine an important locomotive and coach location. These shops remained in operation until 1954, when the present facility was built exclusively for freight car repair. Today, the Palestine Car Shop is one of only two car shops on the Union Pacific Railroad that perform heavy modifications and repairs to freight cars. The Palestine workforce has more than 100 employees.
In 1914 the county's fifth courthouse was completed, which is still standing and in use. Oil was discovered at Boggy Creek, east of Palestine, in 1928 which added to and diversified the town's economy. Palestine became a center for oil-well servicing and supplies in support of other producing fields found later elsewhere in Anderson County.
Construction of the earth-filled Blackburn Crossing Dam, creating Lake Palestine as a reliable source of water, was begun in 1960, completed in 1962. It was enlarged from 1969 to 1972 to 75 feet high, and 5,720 feet long.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 19.6 square miles (50.7 km2), of which 19.4 square miles (50.2 km2) is land and 0.19 square miles (0.5 km2), or 1.06%, is covered by water.
|Tyler (47 miles)
Jacksonville (26 miles)
|Elkhart (10 miles)
Crockett (35 miles)
|Weather chart for Palestine, Texas|
|temperatures in °F
precipitation totals in inches
source: Weather.com / NWS
Lake Palestine is a freshwater lake created by the construction of the Blackburn Crossing dam on the Neches River in 1962. A 25,600 acre lake with a total length of 18 miles, 135 miles of shoreline and an average depth of 16.25 ft, it offers an array of freshwater fish species including bass, crappie and catfish. The Upper Neches River Municipal Water Authority owns and operates Lake Palestine. The City of Palestine has a water contract for 25 million gallons of water per day, served by a channel dam, 13 miles of pipeline and a water treatment plant which the City operates for water coming into the city.
Roads and highways
Palestine is at a crossroads of several arterial highways converging in Palestine:
- U.S. Highway 79 from Austin to the Southwest and continues on to Shreveport to the northeast
- U.S. Highway 84 from Waco to the West and continues on to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia to the east
- U.S. Highway 287 from Fort Worth to the northwest and continues on to Beaumont and Port Arthur to the southeast
- State Highway 19 from Huntsville to the South and continues on to Athens and Paris
- State Highway 155 emanating from Palestine northeast to Tyler
- Loop 127 is entirely within Palestine
- Loop 256 encircles downtown Palestine
- The average warmest month is July.
- The highest recorded temperature was 114 °F in 1954.
- On average, the coolest month is January.
- The lowest recorded temperature was -4 °F in 1930.
- The maximum average precipitation occurs in October.
As of the census of 2000, there were 17,598 people, 6,641 households, and 4,582 families residing in the city. The population density was 994.3 people per square mile (383.9/km²). There were 7,668 housing units at an average density of 433.2 per square mile (167.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 64.60% White, 24.77% African American, 0.49% Native American, 0.79% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 7.90% from other races, and 1.37% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 14.88% of the population.
There were 6,641 households out of which 34.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.2% were married couples living together, 18.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.0% were non-families. 28.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.13.
In the city, the population was spread out with 29.1% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 25.6% from 25 to 44, 20.0% from 45 to 64, and 16.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 84.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $30,497, and the median income for a family was $36,806. Males had a median income of $28,331 versus $20,662 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,514. About 16.6% of families and 20.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.7% of those under age 18 and 14.6% of those age 65 or over.
Arts and culture
Music and Performing Arts
- The 25,000-square foot Civic Center is owned and operated by the City of Palestine.
- The Texas Theatre is a historic structure designed originally designed as a movie palace that opened in 1930, is a prime example of Spanish Colonial architecture and provides a home for live community theater today.
- The Museum for East Texas Culture, located in Reagan Park, is housed in a 1915 schoolhouse. Exhibits include local Palestine historical noteworthy people, events and locations, an authentic vintage classroom, a log cabin and railroad memorabilia.
- The Curious Museum on Oak Street, in the spirit of San Francisco's Exploratorium, engages creative and innovative thinking skills to educate visitors of all ages.
- The Texas State Railroad Society Museum, located in the downtown Carnegie Library, displays model trains, local history and artifacts and train memorabilia.
Lakes and forested parks are natural features of the Piney Woods of East Texas,. Palestine is home to several, most prominently
- 22-acre Steven Bennett Park
- 20-acre Greens Park
- 16-acre Reagan Park
- 10-acre Calhoun Park
- 29-acre athletic complex with 10 lighted baseball fields
- There are four lakes within the city limits of Palestine,all of which have boat ramps, provide fishing, and collectively provide a variety of picnic areas and hiking trails:
- Wolf Creek lake
- Upper Lake
- Lower Lake
- Blue Lake
- The Gus Engeling Wildlife Management Area, located 20 miles northwest of Palestine is a 10,000-acre a wildlife research and demonstration area for the Post Oak Savanna Ecoregion, a natural resource observe birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles, fishes and vegetation.
- Two local golf courses provide a range of recreational opportunity. Wildcat Golf Course, a 9-hole originally constructed in 1921. is located in the city. Located on the north of the city, the Pine Dunes is a highly rated Jay Morrish-designed course which opened in the late 1990s. An indicator of the level of this course are awards such as 4-1/2 stars from Golf Digest and Golfweek's 2015 #1 "Best Courses You Can Play.".
Recurring calendared activities include:
- Dulcimer Festival - Featuring concerts, workshops, informal jam sessions the three-day dulcimer festival event features and attracts notable practitioners of dulcimer, guitar, violin, banjo and concertina, it has held at The Museum for East Texas Culture at Reagan Park every Spring since 2001.
- Dogwood Trails Festival - The Dogwood Trails Festival occurs each spring over the last two weekends of March and the first weekend in April.
- Dogwood Jamboree - The Dogwood Jamboree is held every two months at the Palestine Civic Center. The country and western concert is hosted by Pastor Dan Manuel and a variety of country and western artists. Each performance always features new talent, young, older, and in-between. The newest addition to the Dogwood Jamboree features a talent competition developing young artists under the age of 18. People come from all over the nation and from foreign countries to see the performances.
- Hot Pepper Festival - A popular culinary celebration that takes place every October in the city’s historic downtown area, the festival provides concert entertainment and spotlights peppers with salsa-making contest, 4-H petting zoo, antique tractor show, and a parade.
- Frost Fest - An annual event that provides snow sliding/tubing, ice skating, historical tour of homes, a 5k Run, and family activities every December.
First Presbyterian Church of Palestine
- Palestine, Texas from the Handbook of Texas Online
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