Located on Lake Livingston, 80 miles north of Houston, the Onalaska area offers outdoor and recreational activities that provide fun for all ages. The visitor or resident will find a great selection of campgrounds, RV parks, marinas and restaurants. Nearby is Livingston's Monthly Trade Days with over 400 booths and two covered pavilions on 200 acres in a park-type atmosphere. All ages will also enjoy a visit to the Alabama Coushatta Indian Reservation, and the Polk County Museum.

When Lake Livingston was completed in 1969, and with the coming of the water, new life sprang into the little town. Almost overnight Onalaska blossomed with new shops and businesses popping up everywhere. The immediate area now has a population of approximately 4,000 permanent residents, with weekend visitors often pushing that number to 10,000 or more.

The Onalaska area, because of its location at the heart of Lake Livingston, has become a popular vacation and retirement community, and despite its growth, still retains a small-town quality with a country atmosphere.

First settled in 1840, the Onalaska area was a farming area until the 1904 arrival of the Carlisle Lumber Company sawmill. With the sawmill - the largest in Texas, Onalaska became an instant boom town and was larger than the nearby county seat of Livingston.

The name for the city comes from the poem, "The Pleasures of Hope", by the Scottish poet Thomas Campbell. When William Carlisle brought the sawmill to this area in 1904, he named the town Onalaska. Carlisle also named the towns of Onalaska, Wisconsin, Onalaska, Washington, and Onalaska, Arkansas (now defunct), where he started additional lumber mills.

Shortly after the arrival of the sawmill, the town boasted two hotels, a movie theater, a large park, a hospital, a large downtown which included many stores, a cold storage plant, a bank, a railroad depot, and a large general store. The electricity for the entire community and the mill was supplied by two 150-kilowatt machines furnishing direct current.

The West Lumber Company purchased the sawmill in 1912, but the depletion of local timber led to the mill's closure in 1924. Although Onalaska remained a fairly active agricultural community, its boom days were over. By 1948 the population had dwindled to only 80 residents. The completion of Lake Livingston in 1968 started the local economy and population on the road to recovery, and Onalaska soon experienced its second "boom".   [read more history]
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372 South FM 356
P.O. Box 880
Onalaska, Texas 77360

  (936) 646-2833 (fax)

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July 6-8, 2018

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