Texas Traveler: Historic Hamburgers in Jefferson

The two-thirds-of-a-pound hamburger at the Historic Hamburger Store in Jefferson turned out to be two one-third-pound patties on top of each other. The regular price was six bucks, but by the time I had added bacon, Swiss cheese and jalapeños, it came to almost ten dollars.

The meat patties were juicy, the bun was nicely toasted, and the condiments were excellent. I would have preferred a single large patty instead of two thin ones, but the burger still got very high marks. The coconut meringue pie was exceptional. The Hamburger Store is classic -- it has been in the same family since its founding 40 years ago. But what makes it "historic" is its location across the street from the history museum.

Jefferson was a thriving industrial center and one of the most important towns in Texas before the Civil War. It was the westernmost riverboat port on the Red River. Its importance diminished when the Red River raft, a natural dam of driftwood that made the river impassable beyond Shreveport, was dynamited. The river became passable, but the water level fell in neighboring waterways like Big Cypress Creek, leaving Jefferson's docks high and dry. The decline of Jefferson began when the railroad bypassed the town.

Today, Jefferson is considered the best-preserved antebellum town in East Texas. It's a popular stopover for tourists, with lots of restaurants in the old commercial quarter, bed and breakfasts located in restored homes, and a historic hotel.

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