The City of Rusk was named for Thomas J. Rusk, who is said to have held more high official positions than anyone else during the days of The Texas Republic. He was a soldier, attorney, judge, statesman, chief justice of the Supreme Court and major general of the Texas Republic.
Thomas J. Rusk signed the Texas Declaration of Independence, fought at San Jacinto and became the secretary of war under President Sam Houston. He and Sam Houston were the first senators to the United States Congress from Texas.
Rusk is the historic capital of Cherokee County and its colorful past includes a lusty boomtown chapter and scores of incidents prominently linked with the growth and development of East Texas. Named as the seat of Cherokee County when Cherokee County was formed from Nacogdoches County on April 11, 1846, Rusk is one of two sites for the Texas State Railroad. The first train entered Rusk in August of 1852.
Cherokee County has an annual average temperature of 64 degrees and annual precipitation of 46.1 inches.
Cherokee County has 1,052.2 sq miles in land area and a population density of 45.1 per sq mile. In the last three decades of the 1900s its population grew by 45.8%.
The Rusk Footbridge is located one block from the historic courthouse square. The footbridge is 546 ft long and is a replica of the original built in 1861. History really comes alive with a visit to the Texas State Railroad Historical Park.
Passengers can enjoy their "step back in time" from mid-March through October as the "Iron Horse" travels the 25-mile run from Rusk to Palestine and back.
Adjacent to the railroad park is the Rusk State Park, an up-to-date camping facility nestled in the pine trees. Full hookups, group trailer sites and tent sites, and meeting pavilions are all available in this 100-acre park which also includes a 15-acre lake.
The Singletary Memorial Library, the Summers Norman Memorial Museum, self-guided walking tours which include numerous state historical markers, a challenging 9-hole golf course near the picturesque city lake, and other seasonal events offer residents and visitors alike many recreational opportunities.
Jim Hogg City Historical Park is located two miles northeast of Rusk. This 177-acre park boasts the Mountain Home Museum, a replica of the home of the first native-born governor of Texas, James Stephen Hogg. Rusk is also the birthplace of Thomas M. Campbell, the second native-born governor of Texas.
The Cherokee Civic Theatre produces live theater throughout the year, the Main Street sponsored Fair on the Square celebration on Memorial Day weekend is termed the "Best Street Party in Texas," and the Indian Summer Arts and Crafts Festival in October is one of the oldest in the state.
The town's unspoiled landscape and relaxed pace can no doubt be attributed to its delicate blend of old and new, nostalgia and innovation, architecture and nature.