The seat of Upshur County, Gilmer was founded in 1848 on the historic Cherokee Trace, becoming a trade center for a growing population of farmer-settlers. Cotton farming dominated the economy, joined by a lumbering boom at the turn of the century. The East Texas oil boom of the early 1930s extended into the county as cotton began to fade. Dairying, lumber, and beef cattle are important today.
More than 50 historical markers are found in Gilmer and around the county, including a 1936 granite maker in Roosevelt Park on site of an early 19th-century Cherokee Indian village. Markers on the courthouse lawn tell about the Cherokee Trace, traveled by Sam Houston and other Texas Revolution heroes on their first trips to Texas.
Gilmer became a Texas Main Street City in 1998, won Texas Main Street City of the year in 1999, and in 2000 was named a National Main Street City. Historic Gilmer Main Street features a downtown square with red brick-paved streets, shops and restaurants. Gilmer is also part of the Texas Forest Trail Region, the heritage tourism initiative of the Texas Historical Commission that encompasses 35 counties in East Texas.
Don't miss East Texas Yamboree, the third weekend in October, which pays homage to the sweet potato and is one of the oldest annual festivals in Texas.