173. Jefferson, Marion County

Funny thing about far East Texas: the farther east you get, the more it starts looking like Louisiana: swampy, damp, scary pines, crappier roads…  And that’s what it was like rolling into town early in the morning.  To be fair, it wasn’t that damp.  Being morning, it was still relatively cool and dry-ish out. What I didn’t expect was for Jefferson to be quite as picturesque.  Because of its proximity to Texas and Louisiana universities, it has a sizable hotel and tourist industry and certainly looks it. 

As with several other courthouses I’ve encountered during the Project, this one was fenced off for repairs.  I’ve occasionally wondered about courthouse maintenance, especially for older ones and it turns out that the Texas Historical Commission has two programs (the Texas Courthouse Stewardship and Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation programs) devoted to this.  Why they have two separate programs I’m not sure.  Knowing me, one day I’ll get into the weeds and figure that out, but not right now.  Besides, I have more important things to do here like grab a cache.

I decided to cherchez la easy and grab a nearby virtual which turned out to be both fitting and ironic, considering Jefferson’s touristy background.  Welcome to the Atalanta, the personal train car of the robber baron Jay Gould.  Gould was a railroad tycoon, famous for an attempt to corner the American gold market in an attempt to drive up the prices of wheat and crops, forcing eastern cities to buy cheaper western produce, which would be shipped (of course) on his trains.  He visited Jefferson once to try to convince the town to allow him to build track through it since it was already a bustling stop.  The town refused and, when he checked out of his hotel, he famously (in Jefferson, anyway) wrote in the hotel ledger that it was “the end of Jefferson.”  Well, not only was it not the end of Jefferson, after his death the town purchased his personal travel car and keeps it as a tourist attraction.  Were it not so early in the morning, I could have purchased a ticket to tour the luxury of travel in the Gilded Age.  Of course, it makes me wonder about comparisons to today and our seemingly Gilded 2.0, but that’s a discussion for another time.  I logged the find and got back on the road, heading off for…

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