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Rusk, Texas
Confederate Monument at Cherokee County Courthouse in Rusk
Confederate Monument at Cherokee County Courthouse in Rusk
"The Heart of East Texas"
Location of Rusk, Texas
Location of Rusk, Texas
Cherokee County Rusk.svg
Country United States
State Texas
County Cherokee
 • Total 7.26 sq mi (18.80 km2)
 • Land 7.23 sq mi (18.73 km2)
 • Water 0.03 sq mi (0.07 km2)
518 ft (158 m)
 • Total 5,551
 • Estimate 
 • Density 774.61/sq mi (299.07/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 430, 903 (903 Exchange: 683)
FIPS code 48-63848
GNIS feature ID 1375860

Rusk is a city and the county seat of Cherokee County in the U.S. state of Texas. The population was 5,551 at the 2010 census.


The town was established by an act of the Texas legislature on April 11, 1846. It was named after Thomas Jefferson Rusk, signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. By 1850, Rusk reportedly had 355 residents. A post office was authorized on March 8, 1847.

The city of Rusk is no longer dry; a beer and wine local option election passed on May 9, 2009.


Rusk is located near the center of Cherokee County at 31°47′54″N 95°09′00″W / 31.798254°N 95.149865°W / 31.798254; -95.149865. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.3 square miles (18.8 km2), of which 0.03 square miles (0.07 km2), or 0.37%, is water.

Rusk is crossed by U.S. Routes 69 and 84. US 69 leads northwest 14 miles (23 km) to Jacksonville, the largest city in Cherokee County, and southeast 43 miles (69 km) to Lufkin, while US 84 leads east 30 miles (48 km) to Mount Enterprise and west the same distance to Palestine. Rusk is about 160 miles (260 km) north of Houston, 125 miles (201 km) southeast of Dallas, and 40 miles (64 km) south of Tyler.

Surrounding municipalities


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Rusk has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 355
1870 545
1880 626 14.9%
1890 1,383 120.9%
1900 846 −38.8%
1910 1,558 84.2%
1920 2,348 50.7%
1930 3,859 64.4%
1940 5,699 47.7%
1950 6,598 15.8%
1960 4,900 −25.7%
1970 4,914 0.3%
1980 4,681 −4.7%
1990 4,366 −6.7%
2000 5,085 16.5%
2010 5,551 9.2%
2019 (est.) 5,602 0.9%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2010, there were 5,551 people, 1,306 households, and 867 families residing in the city. The population density was 745.4 people per square mile (287.9/km2). There were 1,539 housing units at an average density of 225.6 per square mile (87.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 62.71% White, 30.01% African American, 0.18% Native American, 0.96% Asian, 5.15% from other races, and 0.98% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.92% of the population.

There were 1,306 households, out of which 32.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.6% were married couples living together, 17.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.6% were non-families. 30.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 16.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.05.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 17.3% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 39.3% from 25 to 44, 20.6% from 45 to 64, and 13.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 154.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 168.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $27,370, and the median income for a family was $33,952. Males had a median income of $24,271 versus $22,438 for females. The per capita income for the city was $11,688. About 16.2% of families and 21.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.4% of those under age 18 and 21.0% of those age 65 or over.

The presence of state prison units in the city considerably skews the demographics, as the two units house approximately 1,250 inmates at any time, making the actual population of the city closer to 3,835. This also affects all other demographic statistics such as ratio of males to females, the racial makeup of the city and the poverty rate.

Arts and culture

Rusk is home to the Texas State Railroad, which has a steam engine train. The Heritage Center of Cherokee County & Cherokee Civic Theater are located in Rusk.

Parks and recreation

Jim Hogg Park, Rusk State Park, and Gourmet Gardens are in Rusk. The longest footbridge in the nation (circa 1861) and the longest zip line in Texas are located in Rusk.


The city of Rusk and surrounding rural areas are served by the Rusk Independent School District.


Postal service

The United States Postal Service operates the Rusk Post Office.

Rusk State Hospital

The Texas Department of State Health Services operates the Rusk State Hospital in Rusk. At that site, the Texas Prison System previously operated the Rusk Penitentiary.

Notable people

Rusk has been home to three former governors, James Stephen Hogg, Thomas M. Campbell, and John B. Kendrick (Governor of Wyoming). Rusk has also been the home to Jim Swink, Adrian Burk and Johnny Horton.

Anthony Denman, former Notre Dame All American, Most Valuable Player and former NFL player, is from Rusk. He was the first to hail from Rusk to play in the NFL.

Cody Glenn, a former Nebraska standout and former NFL player, is from Rusk.

MLB player Chris James was born in Rusk.

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