Gladewater, The Antique Capital of East Texas, continues to be a favorite tourism spot as visitors enjoy revisiting a bit of the past while browsing through the quaint old buildings. Approximately two-hundred and seventy-five dealers and crafters display their wares in various booths or stores located in antique malls and individual shops. Enjoy the nostalgic atmosphere of bed and breakfast inns, restaurants, bakeries, shopping and an old fashioned opry house.
Gladewater is a Texas Main Street City and takes pride in the fact that it has earned the distinguished National Main Street designation. Annual events in the downtown area include East Texas Gusher Days in April, complete with antique cars ad a celebration of the oil boom days of the 1930’s. The Rodeo Parade kicks off the annual PRCA rodeo, held each June attracting famous cowboys and cowgirls to one of the best rodeos in Texas. The fall foliage of Northeast Texas can truly be enjoyed as well as the annual Arts & Crafts Festival in September. The downtown lighting, Christmas parade and Community Dinner are a delight to see during the Christmas season.
In 1872, Texas & Pacific Railroad located its Gladewater depot on the Marshall-Tyler Road between Point Pleasant and Red Rock. Railroad officials told St. Clair residents there would be only one mail stop-and that would be at Gladewater.
“Black Gold” brought quick change to quiet timber and agricultural community when the first oil gusher blew in 1931. The antique oil rig downtown was the first pumping unit on Gladewater’s discovery well.
Overnight the town boomed from 500 to 10,000 people who had lost their jobs to the Great Depression came seeking work. From Old St. Clair into Gladewater, tent cities went up everywhere.
Gladewater was the hub of production and refining and the East Texas field soon accounted for more than 10 percent of the world’s oil. In 1938 Gladewater was called the western gateway to the Great East Texas Oil Field, the largest in the world, with 25,000 wells.
After narrowly surviving the oil bust of the mid-80's and in an effort to diversify the tax base of the City of Gladewater, the mayor formed a task force to investigate the alternatives for Gladewater. In January of 1995 at the request of that task force, the City Council called an election to obtain voters approval for a ½ cent sales tax to be utilized for economic development under Section 4A of Article 5190.6 of the Development Corporation Act of 1979. The voters overwhelmingly approved the enforcement of the sales tax and thus the formation of the Gladewater Economic Development Corporation, also known as GEDCO.