859 square miles
Cities and Towns
MUSEUMS AND ATTRACTIONS
ANNUAL BLUE BIRD FESTIVAL– Wills Point Texas. Contact the Wills Point City Offices. (903/873-2578)
The presence of the many Bluebirds visiting Van Zandt County to nest has been noted for years. In April of 1993, Wills Point hosted the first Bluebird Festival as a general spring celebration in their area of Texas. The annual Audubon Bird count revealed that Wills Point was host to more bluebirds than any other area in Texas for 11 consecutive years, and in 1995 Governor George W. Bush designated Wills Point the “Bluebird Capital of Texas”. The resolution noted that “the heroic efforts of the Wills Point Wilderness Society; working with the National Bluebird Recovery Program, were successful when the National Audubon Society recently determined that the community has hosted more bluebirds that any other area in Texas. It went on to say “the Wills Point Community’s efforts to preserve the bluebird population in Northeast Texas is truly commendable, and the annual bluebird festival is a splendid addition to the state’s roster of recreational opportunities.
ANNUAL CHRISTMAS BAZAAR– Edgewood, Texas. Contact the Edgewood City Hall or Chamber of Commerce. (903/896-4241)
FIRST MONDAY TRADE DAYS – Canton, Texas. Contact the First Monday Office in Canton. (903/567-6556)
What started more than a century ago as a flea market has become home to some of the most exciting, cutting-edge home furnishings, antiques and collectibles that can be found anywhere. Over the past 150 years, lots of things have changed in the Original First Monday Park; but the genuine, down-home human relationships between vendors and shoppers are the reason people keep coming back. This is a place where you can slow down, visit and ask questions, talk to collectors and antique dealers and meet the artists and craftsmen who create one-of-a-kind items.
SALT FESTIVAL– Grand Saline, Texas. Contact the Grand Saline Chamber of Commerce. (903/962-7147)
Grand Saline is home of one of the largest, purest salt domes in the nation with a supply estimated to last twenty thousand years! Grand Saline is also the Texas home of the Morton Salt Company. Many visitors cannot resist a taste… just to prove the building material is truly made of salt. The original Salt Palace was built in 1936 as part of the State of Texas Centennial Celebration. The solid salt structure was patterned after the Alamo town but was eventually torn down due to deterioration. Then, in 1975 a group of citizens decided to initiate the annual Salt Festival, held the second weekend of June, and as a centerpiece, the Salt Palace was rebuilt at its present location. Built of solid salt rocks donated by Morton Salt, a salt mortar mixture was used to replicate the original salt house.
OIL FESTIVAL– Van, Texas. Contact the Van Chamber of Commerce. (903/963-5051)
The annual Oil Festival takes place in Van, Texas. The event includes a parade, vendors, clown, antique cars, bounce house, live entertainment, dunking booth, penny scramble, antique tractors at the Farmhouse and many other attractions. Van Community Ministries Food Pantry also hosts a pancake breakfast at the Van United Methodist Church fellowship hall from 7:30-9 a.m. Another important tradition for the festival is the pageant that goes on every year. Categories include: Baby Miss (0-6 months), Little Miss (12—23 months), Dainty Miss (2-3 years), Cinderella Miss (4-5 years), Princess Miss (6-7 years), Young Miss (8 years), Imperial Miss (9-10 years), Jr. Miss (11-12 years), Teen Miss (13-15 years) and Oil Queen (16-19 years).
VAN ZANDT COUNTY LIBRARY OF GENEOLOGY & LOCAL HISTORY– VZCo Genealogical Society, P.O. Box 1388, Courthouse Annex, Canton, TX 75103. Phone: (903)567-5012; e-mail: email@example.com
The Van Zandt County Library of Genealogy and Local History is an off-site department of the main county library. It was established in August 1989 and has grown enormously since its beginning. Some consider it to be the finest library of its kind for the size county in the state of Texas. This library is manned, managed and totally supported by the Van Zandt Genealogical Society through the efforts of its dedicated members. This genealogical library has over 75,000 pieces of research material and adding more each month. This collection includes books, periodicals, quarterlies, microfilm, microfiche, CDs and taped Oral Histories. There are four microfilm readers of which also print. There is a computer for public use for viewing the collection of genealogical research material on CD’s containing records from many other states and three computers for internet connections. The genealogical society maintains a massive Surname File at the library as well as Vertical Family Files containing contacts and family research material gathered for the past 10 years. And soon it will have Civil War Files, with individual files for over 500 Civil War veterans that were connected to Van Zandt County.
EDGEWOOD HISTORICAL SOCIETY– 103 E. Elm St. (903)896-1940.
Located in Van Zandt County, the Heritage Park is the focal point of Edgewood in North East Texas. Covering three city blocks, the site is home to numerous community celebrations. It is the destination of tourists in search of a historical attraction void of the hustle and bustle associated with the metropolitan areas. Founded in 1976, the park is a Bi-Centennial project that continues to grow yearly. This outdoor museum encompasses 20 authentically restored and furnished structures representing rural life in East Texas from the 1800’s to the 1920’s. November 9th, 2013 is the one-day celebration in the Heritage Park Museum. It is the major fundraising effort in the Society’s quest to maintain this architectural exhibit of 20 restored and furnished structures reminiscent of rural Van Zandt County around 1900.
VAN AREA OIL & HISTORICAL >MUSEUM– Hwy 16 W, Van, Texas (903)963-5435
The museum is in an old warehouse originally built in 1930 by the Pure Oil Co. to house oil field materials used in the development of the oil field. All of the oil derricks in the Van field have disappeared; however, the museum obtained a derrick and relocated it on the grounds as a reminder of bygone days. – Displays include various types of oil related memorabilia as well as history on the area and city.
WILLS POINT DEPOT MUSEUM– 210 W. South Commerce St., Wills Point, TX (903)873-8626
SALT PALACE– 100 W. Garland (Hwy. 80), Grand Saline, TX (903)962-5631
The Salt Palace, a small one-story building in downtown Grand Saline, is constructed of local salt blocks. It has been rebuilt on the same site at least three times. The most recent Salt Palace was built in 1993, replacing one built in 1975, which replaced the original Salt Palace constructed for the 1936 Texas Centennial. Seems like when the economy goes to hell, someone in town yells “Build a salt palace!”
In the 1990s a small museum was created inside the Salt Palace, exhibiting salt mining artifacts and memorabilia. Morton Salt, which owns the actual mines, does not conduct an underground tour, but a museum videotape shows mining operations.