Originally a point on the California Trail, Gainsville was established in 1850 (near Fort Fitzhugh, an outpost that dated from about 1845), but the town's frontier location made it too convenient for raids until 1868. Stabilized conditions allowed growth around cattle and cotton. As the seat of Cooke County and gateway to Texas on two major cross-country highways, it is the home of North Central Texas College.
Recreational facilities include a large municipal park, swimming pools, golf course, and nearby lakes. Shoppers find bargains at Prime Outlets on I-35 north.