The City of Rusk was named after Thomas J. Rusk, one of the signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence. As the county seat of Cherokee County, the City was established by an act of the Texas Legislature on April 11, 1846.

Thomas J. Rusk held more official positions than anyone else during the days of the Texas Republic. He was a soldier, attorney, judge, statesman, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and Major General of the Texas Republic. He also practiced law in Cherokee County from 1829 to 1856. In addition, Rusk was the birthplace of two early governors: James Stephen Hogg and Thomas M. Campbell.

Governor Hogg has been memorialized through the Jim Hogg Memorial Park, a 178.4-acre Piney Woods setting east of Rusk. The Park was opened in 1941 to honor the first native-born governor, serving from 1891 to 1985. Hogg revolutionized state government and private business practices by strengthening public respect for law enforcement. He also formed the Texas Railroad Commission to enforce state anti-trust laws and promote fair business methods.

The 546-foot Rusk Footbridge was constructed in 1861 to allow passage over a flooded creekbed. Rebuilt in 1889 by T.H. Barnes, the civil engineer credited with building New Birmingham, Texas, the Footbridge is believed to be the longest of its kind in the nation. It is located just off of the courthouse square in downtown Rusk.

Located 120 miles southeast of Dallas, the Rusk radius of the Piney Woods allows visitors a chance to enjoy wildlife, waterfowl and bird life in a natural setting. Native foliage unique to this area also is a natural draw for those interested in experiencing the outdoors at its finest.

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