Polk and Tyler Counties Adventure

We had not been aware of many of these Texas small-town sights and are having just a lot of fun discovering what we consider to be exciting places so close to home like this Polk and Tyler Counties adventure.

If you’re a Texan and you hear Livingston mentioned here, you most likely think of Lake Livingston. Lake Livingston is the second-largest lake entirely located in the state of Texas and is a popular vacation, fishing, boating, swimming, and birding destination.

This is not our first overnight trip to Livingston. At the beginning of our trip to Arkansas, we spent one overnight at the Lake Livingston RV Park and probably will stay there again.

We know why friends and family have decided to make this part of the world their home – it is a beautiful and fun place to live. Steve and I spent a few days here with friends recently, and we are sure you would enjoy a mini-vacation for the day, overnight, or even a week to enjoy all this lake has to offer.

Polk and Tyler Counties adventure

During our recent visit, we stayed at our friends’ cozy vacation rental, The Outback, in the Indian Hill subdivision at Lake Livingston. Please contact me if you would like more information about The Outback. Can you taste the smores?

Cozy bedroom at The Outback

Pickett House Restaurant and Heritage Village Museum

Polk and Tyler Counties adventure

Our first destination on our day trip was Pickett House Restaurant, about two miles east of Woodville on Highway 190. This restaurant has a long and curious history beginning in 1909 when the community built a two-room schoolhouse at this location.

In 1945 the building ceased to be used as a school, and the structure was physically moved and became the County Line Grocery Store. Clyde Gray purchased the building, and it was then moved further east on Highway 190.

The building made one final move in 1965, and the old schoolhouse became Pickett House Restaurant at its current location. Pamphlets of the Pickett House Story, provided by the Tyler County Heritage Society, are available at the front of the restaurant and tell the entire story.

The restaurant is decorated with magnificent circus posters

I can visualize this popular restaurant filled with families and friends seated at long bench tables, sharing all-you-can-eat family-style meals from large dishes of delicious food. We were sorry to have missed dining here in the “good old days.”

Although the long bench tables covered in red-checkered tablecloths are still in use, food servings are no longer in large pass-around bowls, and patrons are widely spaced throughout the restaurant to exercise social distancing.

However, the dining experience is still well worth a drive from miles away to enjoy the great food, charming hospitality, and colorfully decorated restaurant. We will undoubtedly return to share this spot with friends again soon.

Steve and I enjoyed a huge all-you-can-eat lunch that included fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, greens, green beans, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, and gravy, biscuits, cornbread, iced tea, AND peach cobbler. I cannot imagine anyone leaving this place hungry or unhappy with the quality of the food.

This restaurant is one part of a large complex that includes the Heritage Village Museum Store, Heritage Village, and the Gray House Museum. We visited with the friendly ladies in the Museum Store and viewed the exhibits and goods for sale.

When we walked out the back door of the museum we discovered a replica of a complete village from the pioneer days (the 1800s to 1920s) Quite a surprise! The village contains replicas of many typical shops and buildings that might have existed during pioneer times.

We found a blacksmith shop, apothecary shop, seamstress shop, tool room, railroad depot, post office, livery stable, and even a church and cemetery. These are only a few of the replicas standing in this village, and each model contains artifacts displayed as they would have been when in use in pioneer days.

Steve and I spent an hour or so walking around looking at all the buildings. I expect children would be fascinated by all the “old-timey” buildings; I know I would have been when I was a child.  But wait! I am one of the “old-timey” things!

Heritage Village!

We left the village, went back through the museum store, and went for a quiet walk through the woods on the Big Woods Nature Trail that originally was part of the Big Thicket. The nature trail can be accessed from the parking lot.

Polk and Tyler Counties adventure

Heritage Village Nature Trail

Heritage Village was quite the find for us, so much to see and do there. All is wonderfully maintained, and the employees were so friendly. I highly recommend a visit. Tyler County holds a Dogwood Festival in March and April of each year, and I expect it is a do not miss event.

Heritage Village also holds an annual Harvest Festival in October and provides wedding and meeting facilities. This great destination is about an hour’s drive from downtown Houston to Livingston and then a half-hour drive east of downtown Livingston.

Polk and Tyler Counties adventure

We headed back to Livingston after leaving Woodville. Incidentally, you drive right past the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas Naskila Casino to get to Woodville. I have visited the casino a few times and it is a fun, small-sized, casino.

Old City Cemetery

Polk and Tyler Counties adventure

Our next stop was the Old City Cemetery in Livingston, easy to find sitting on a full city block off Highway 190. The Cemetery, established in 1840, is the final resting place for many of the founding members of the community.

Buried here also, are 25 Republic of Texas citizens, Mexican War veterans, and 30 Civil War veterans. I’ve seen photos of the cemetery during the Bluebonnet season, and it is beautiful. We saw very few bluebonnets the day we were there, but brown-eyed Susans were blooming.

Both of us had hoped to find a geocache in or near this cemetery, and yes the closest one was about .10th of a mile away, a quick find for us.

Confederate Soldier Grave, Old City Cemetery, Livingston, TX

Polk County Courthouse

The original Polk County Courthouse, constructed in 1846, was the first of five to be built. The current Polk County Courthouse was completed in 1924. We stopped long enough at this historic courthouse on its quaint town square to read the historical marker in place.

There are more than 254 courthouses in Texas, and it is a goal of mine to see them all.

Polk County Memorial Museum

Polk and Tyler Counties adventure

Our final visit of the day was to the Polk County Memorial Museum. Oddly enough, this museum, formerly known as the Webster House, used to be a private residence.

In 1996 Sechrest Bergman Webster gifted her home to the Polk County Memorial Museum. The Webster House was constructed using bricks from Galveston’s Ursuline Academy in 1960.

Housed in the museum are fossils, including mammoth and mastodon teeth found in the area. Of course, there is an excellent exhibit of Native American craft. Riverboat-era artifacts, early tools used in local sawmills, and Civil War pieces are on display at this museum.

The museum is spotless, very well-maintained, and provides a pleasing glimpse of Livingston’s history.  

As we were leaving the museum it began to rain, so we decided to call it a day and drove all the way home in a summer rainstorm.

We arrived home just after a wicked 70 miles an hour wind and thunderstorm passed through our community wreaking havoc on our neighborhood as well as surrounding neighborhoods.

Stay tuned for our next trip. Where shall we go?  Any ideas?  Anyone? 

Polk and Tyler Counties Adventure

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