It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon and the city’s antique district is buzzing with browsers, shoppers and the curious. This is Gladewater, the “Antique Capital of East Texas.” Stores along Pacific, Main and other downtown streets feature vintage jewelry, Depression glass, neon signs, collectables and all manner of antiques from oil cans and advertising signs to clothing and silver tea sets.3

There are approximately 275 dealers and more than 100 craft displays in 16 antique malls and numerous shops, all housed in the city’s historic buildings.

For anyone wanting to get away from it all for a few days, Gladewater also features several bed and breakfast establishments within walking distance of the antique district and a variety of 9tempting restaurants.

Gladewater History

Straddling Gregg and Upshur counties, this city of just over 6,000 can trace its lineage back more than a century.

Gladewater was founded by the Texas and Pacific Railway Company. It is believed the town’s name originated from its proximity to Glade Creek.

When it was announced this would be the only mail stop in the area, the residents of St. Clair and Point Pleasant moved to Gladewater. The first Post Office was established on August 22, 1873. A year later Gladewater was incorporated.

The population grew slowly during the 19th century. The 1880 census shows 163 residents and in 1900, 259. The major industries of the time were lumber production and cotton farming. In 1908 the town had ten stores, one bank, two blacksmith shops, two hotels, a cotton gin, a sawmill and a planing ((spelling correct)) mill where cut and seasoned boards from the sawmill were finished.2

Then, in 1931, the first Gladewater oil well blew in.

Oil production led to a population increase during the 1930s from about 500 people to around 8,000. In 1940, after the oil boom, the population fell by nearly half.

Gladewater also is known as the base for Elvis Presley during his early career and the town where Johnny Cash wrote Walk the Line.

7In 1990 the community began to turn its attention to antiques leading to its current status as a tourist destination. Several events and festivals also draw in visitors — East Texas Gusher Days in April, the Roundup Rodeo in June, and the Arts and Crafts Festival in September.

A great place to get to know this city’s history is the Gladewater Museum. Museum displays tell the community’s story from early settlement days through present day Gladewater and its surrounding area.

There is a depot room with artifacts and memorabilia relating to the Texas Pacific Railroad. Another room features period furniture and other displays spotlight founding families, businesses and schools.

Another feature is a collection of historic photography.

Other local attractions include Lee’s Daffodil Garden — open mid-February through March; Lake Gladewater featuring a swimming beach, 4picnic area and sporting facilities; and Gladewater Saturday Night Opry showcasing some of the best artists from Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

If you go:

Gladewater is located at the intersection of U.S. Highways 80 and 271, 13 miles west of Longview.

The best source of additional attraction, accommodation and restaurant information is the Chamber of Commerce website at