Marker For Magnolia Landing Dedicated In Anderson County

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STEAMBOATS COMING -- Sheriff Charlie Jenkins claims a boats coming, pointing down the river from Magnolia Landing, where one day barges will ply the Trinity River. After the marker dedication, the group wanted to see the landing site. Old Magnolia stood on the high rocky bluff to the left of this scene.
Archive photo

Published in the Fairfield Recorder Nov. 28, 1968

Historic old Magnolia Landing, which harbored flatbottom steamboats on the Trinity River a century ago, will live long in the hearts of Texans now sure that towboats and barges will be plying the river within the next few years.

Governor-elect Preston Smith was the principal speaker at a program in Palestine, Nov. 19, dedicating a historical marker and pointing up things to come with navigation of the river all the way from the Houston Ship Channel to Fort Worth.

The program, sponsored by the Palestine Chamber of Commerce and the Anderson County Historical Survey Committee in cooperation with the Trinity Improvement Association, attracted many local and visiting dignitaries for luncheon with the Palestine Kiwanis Club at Jerry Sadler’s Motor Hotel dining room.

Invitees included Texas legislators serving counties up and down the river, officials of Trinity Improvement Assn. and Trinity River Authority of Texas, Congressman John Dowdy in whose district Old Magnolia is located and others. The Magnolia marker was formally dedicated at the historic riverside site some 10 miles west of here following the luncheon.

Governor-elect Smith spoke on past, present, and future aspects of the Trinity navigation project, pointing up the importance of the waterway and the whole Trinity River comprehensive development plan as a force in revitalizing the Basin’s economy through water transportation, jobs, water supply for towns and cities, and recreational opportunities.

Magnolia was a thriving port in the 1870s. Now the old townsite, situated on a bluff above the river, is covered by brush and weeds. Large concrete blocks are the only visible signs left of the river trade that once tagged the town “Little St. Louis of the Trinity.”

Named for a large Magnolia tree on the bank of the river, Magnolia was founded by settlers who moved there from Ft. Houston, located near Palestine. After the danger of Indian attacks lessened settlers began making land claims at Magnolia.

During its heyday, the little town claimed 33 residential and business blocks with streets 60 feet wide. A drugstore, law office, blacksmith shop, tavern, cotton gin, general merchandise and hotel made up the businesses. There was a one-room schoolhouse and a Methodist church.

The 800-odd citizens pointed with pride to the Hagood Hotel, reputed to be the finest between Shreveport and San Antonio. W.A. Hagood, owner of the two-story structure, advertised board and lodging for a man and two horses at $2 a night.

Guests who signed the register of the hotel included General Sam


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