Martin Creek Lake State Park, which consists of 286.9 acres, is located in Rusk County, southeast of Longview. It was deeded to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department by the Texas Utilities Generating Company on June 23, 1976, and was opened to the public the same year. The park is located on 5000-acre Martin Creek Lake, constructed to provide cooling water for a lignite-fired, electric power generation plant.
The park and surrounding area have been inhabited by people since 200 B.C. Until the 18th century, Caddoan Indians and Spanish explorers lived in and traveled through this area. Later the Choctaw, Cherokee, and Kickapoo Indians migrated here in response to the increasing influx of Anglo Americans. Visitors can still see the old roadbed of Trammel's Trace near the fishing pier. It was an Indian Trail that became a major route for settlers moving to Texas from Arkansas. In 1833, Daniel Martin, for whom the park is named, settled with his family near the creek called Hogan's Bayou at the time. He and his neighbors eventually built a small fort and then a town called Harmony Hill. It reached its heyday after the Civil War, but it was deserted by 1900 and struck by a tornado in 1906. Only one Civil War era building remains today, and it has been converted into a storage shed. Traces of the old roads that brought prosperity to Harmony Hill can still be seen in the park and are part of the hiking trail.
Activities include excellent, year-round fishing; camping; wildlife observation and photography; picnicking; boating; water skiing; unsupervised lake swimming; backpacking; hiking; and interpretive programs on Saturday (when staffing allows). An annual perch fishing contest is held for children ages 4 to 12 is held first Saturday in September.
Facilities include restrooms with showers; hike-in primitive campsites with no drinking water available (one of the primitive areas is located on an island accessed via a charming wooden bridge); campsites with water and electricity (all have fire rings and picnic tables); screened shelters; 2 cottages (converted screened shelters which have been air-conditioned and heated, have water, electricity and bunk beds - capacity 5; a group picnic pavilion; a 1.5-mile hiking trail; a 6-mile mountain bike trail; a 4-lane concrete boat ramp; a trailer dump station; a playground; and a lighted fishing pier. Two cabins accommodate 4; no additional persons authorized. They have central air and heat, kitchen with 4-burner stove and oven, refrigerator, coffee maker, screened back porch, and outdoor smoker/cooker. There are no fireplaces or wood-burning stoves. No bath or bed linens are provided.
Nearby attractions include Caddo Lake State Park, Starr Family Home State Historic Site, Texas State Railroad and the historic Cities of Marshall, Longview, Kilgore, and Henderson.
During fall, usually late October through the first two weeks of November, is a particularly scenic time at Martin Creek. Visitors can marvel at the colorful foliage displayed by the many varieties of hardwoods, interspersed with loblolly and short-leaf pine trees.
This forest shelters abundant wildlife including gophers, swamp rabbits, nutria, white-tailed deer, raccoons, armadillos, and squirrels. Park visitors enjoy excellent year-round fishing, due to water warmed by the power plant. Fish include large-mouth bass, crappie, channel catfish, perch, ball, and sunfish. Among the most commonly seen birds are mallard ducks, great blue herons, green-backed herons, great egrets, northern cardinals, blue jays, red-headed woodpeckers, bobwhites, and northern mockingbirds.
Average January minimum 35, average July maximum 94, average annual rainfall 46.5.
9515 County Road 2181D, Tatum, TX 75691-3425
The park is located 20 miles southeast of Longview. Travel 3.5 miles southwest of Tatum on State Highway 43, then turn south on County Road 2183.