LIVINGSTON, TEXAS

Livingston, Texas, the county seat of Polk County, is located in the southern part of the county. The townsite was acquired in 1835 by Moses L. Choate, and named Springfield in 1839. In 1846, Polk County was delineated from northern Liberty County. Choate donated more than 100 acres for the site of the county seat. In 1847, the town was named Livingston in honor of Choate’s hometown in Tennessee. The town was largely an agricultural area, producing mostly cotton and corn. In 1880, the Houston East and West Texas Railway was constructed through Livingston, bringing rapid change. The town also served as a trading center for area farmers. In 1902, a fire destroyed much of the town during a dry-wet controversy. A brick factory was built shortly after the fire, and by 1908, the Beaumont and Great Northern Railroad tracks reached Livingston from Trinity County, thus tying the Polk county seat to the lucrative forests to the northwest. In 1917, State Highway 35 (now U.S. 59) was constructed and provided a major transportation artery to Livingston. By 1925, the local timber industry had slumped and population dropped, but by 1932 the discovery of oil at the Livingston field 10 miles south created new growth. Lumber continued to be an important industry. Lake Livingston, an 83,000-acre, man-made reservoir was completed in 1968, which provided recreation outlets and new development. The nearby Alabama-Coushatta Indian Reservation, and the Lake Livingston State Park also increased growth through tourism.