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History

View of wildflowers on the edge of the lake, with kids swimmingMartin Creek Lake State Park is in Rusk County, south­east of Longview. The Texas Utilities Generating Com­pany deeded the 286-acre park to the Texas Parks and Wild­life Department in 1976, and it opened the same year.

The park sits on the shores of the 5,000-acre Martin Creek Lake. The lake pro­vides cooling water for a lignite-fired, electricity generation plant.

Early inhabitants

People have inhabited the park and sur­round­ing area for roughly 13,000 years.

The area was sparsely populated until the Caddo began settling here about 1,200 years ago. The Caddo thrived by hunting, gathering and cultivating crops. A massive depop­u­la­tion took place in the 17th century.

European explorers arrived at about that time. By the early 18th century, the Spanish had built six missions to convert the Indi­ans to Catholicism. As late as the early 19th century, mainly Caddo, Cherokee and Shawnee peoples lived here.

Settler Daniel Martin

Daniel Martin, the creek’s namesake, settled in the area in 1833. Later, he and his neighbors built a small fort and the community of Harmony Hill along the Old Henderson-Shreveport Road.

The town reached its zenith after the Civil War. It was nearly deserted by the turn of the 20th century. Only one Civil War-era building remains today; it has been con­verted into a storage shed.

Look for traces of the old roads that brought prosperity to Harmony Hill along hiking trails.