Our first day of Spring Break was a rainy one, but we hoped for clearer skies and headed down to Lufkin to visit the Texas Forestry Museum. The tall pines of East Texas created a huge industry of logging that still plays a vital part of the area today!
Check out my Mommy Tips for making the most of your visit
1. Know Before You Go
If you are in Lufkin, why wouldn’t you visit? The Texas Forestry Museum is FREE! Free to visit. Free parking. Donations are gladly accepted.
We spent a little over an hour during our visit. The kids wanted to stay longer, and it was raining outside, so we didn’t stay as long as they would have liked.
2. Something for the Big Boys
My husband and oldest son are all about big machines, and the TFM has plenty of large, timber cutting machines on display to keep them busy, mentally operating them!
3. Sawmill Doctor Exhibit
A large portion of the TFM is dedicated to the Sawmill Towns that built up around the Sawmills. Logger’s brought their entire families to live in these towns that were owned by the lumber companies. The Sawmill Doctor exhibit shows a typical office, and has a hands on portion that my children enjoyed.
4. Timber Towns Train Set
My youngest LOVED the train set that ran through a “Timber Town”. There are logs they can pick up in the forest and deliver to mill.
5. Fire Tower
When I was young, there was a fire tower in the lumber company land that surrounds our home in East Texas. Today, almost all of those towers have been dismantled, including the one I remember. It was fun to walk up a few steps and see inside one of the towers in the museum.
There is also a real tower outside, and I’m forever thankful that you aren’t allowed to climb up to it!
6. Smokey the Bear
Smokey the Bear, a longtime defender of the forest, has his advertising campaign and life story chronicled in the museum. The real Smokey the Bear was a small black bear cub found with burned paws in Capitan, New Mexico. The cub recovered and became the mascot of the campaign to “Remember, only YOU can prevent forest fires.”.
7. Timbertown Sawmill House
My kids, along with the other children at the museum, loved playing in the Timbertown Sawmill House. Period children’s clothing is provided for them to wear, and the “house” has pretend food, ironing board and furniture where they can let their imagination run free as they recreate life in a Sawmill House.
8. Picnic at the Museum
The Texas Forestry Museum doesn’t sell food or drinks, but they do have several picnic tables available outside.
9. The Moscow, Camden and St. Augustine Train and Depot
We were happy to brave the rain to get to explore ALL over the Moscow, Camden and St. Augustine Train.
We were able to go inside the engine and the red caboose, the only train car that carried passengers.
The original Camden Depot has also been relocated to the museum.
Of course, the kids were STARVING after our visit to the TFM, so we headed to one of our favorite places in Lufkin, Ray’s Drive In! Ray’s has been a Lufkin landmark since it opened in 1959. The burgers are terrific, and you’ll love the “old-school 50’s decor!
To me, Ray’s is about a tradition my dad set in place while I was growing up, when he would take us to Ray’s whenever we visited Lufkin, his hometown. He past away in 2009, but my older kids still have distant memories of him taking us to grab a burger at Ray’s. As we ate our lunch and talked about him, it’s was almost as if he was occupying the empty seat at our table. Ray’s Drive In is located at 420 N Timberland Dr, Lufkin. (936) 634-3262.
Things to do in Lufkin
The rain thwarted our plans of spending the afternoon at the Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin. It’s a smaller zoo, but one of our very favorites! We love the peacocks that roam free around the zoo, the train ride and seeing the alligators that fill the lake in front of the zoo! The park has picnic tables, grills and a playground! Click HERE to visit their website.
Ratcliff Lake offers fishing and canoeing.
Canoeing is popular down the Neches River, and each summer it’s filled with the annual Neches River Rendevous.
The Angelina National Forest has the Sawmill Hiking Trail.
Hike on the Davy Crockett National Forest Ratcliff Trail.
Mountain bikers and hikers will love the Lost Arrow Trail in Kit McConnico Park.
East Texas is known for the springtime Azaleas, and there is no shortage in Lufkin on the Azalea Trail!
Located a short drive from Lufkin in Alto, The Caddo Mounds State Historical Site offers an interpretive museum and short walking tour. For more information, click HERE.
Texas Forestry Museum
1905 Atkinson Dr, Lufkin, TX 75901
Click HERE to visit their website.
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