Love’s Lookout State Park
Above and Beyond
Just 4 miles from downtown Jacksonville, Love’s Lookout is a not only a must-stop for weary travelers (it is a designated rest area, after all), it’s also a delightful destination for picnickers, photographers and anyone seeking to soak up the sensationally-scenic surroundings.
At an elevation of 720 feet above sea level and rising 240 feet above the surrounding terrain, this vaulted ridge affords a panoramic view of the Eastern horizon – as far-reaching as 30 miles on a clear day.
Serving as a State Park, the 5,500 square foot structure includes a dynamic central breezeway, framing the view that beckons visitors to the expansive rear terrace. The beefy support timbers and Craftsman-esque details hearken to the golden age of U.S. rail travel when train stations were styled in distinctive designs to entice passengers and propagate profits.
Amenities include impeccable bathroom facilities, an information center, vending machines, and perfectly-positioned tables and benches for enjoying the view and a meal.
The gardens surrounding the facilities are equally impressive. Vibrantly-hued shrubbery punctuates the bedding areas, partnered with perennials poised to entice a plethora of butterflies and bees.
A historical marker reveals the origin of the Lookout’s name – and no, it’s not in homage to the romantic nature of the setting, though the moniker would be aptly-earned. The namesake is Wesley Love, who – at the turn of the century – purchased 600 acres he developed as a peach orchard. A favorite scenic spot among area residents, the location became known as “Love’s Lookout”. After Love’s death, the family donated the property to the State of Texas for use as a park. The City of Jacksonville later purchased 25 adjoining acres and acquired another 122 acres from a donation made by the J. L. Brown family.
In conjunction with the WPA project of the 1930s, a stone wall was constructed from locally-harvested iron ore, delineating the rim of the ridge. This signature composition can also be found in Jacksonville’s renowned downtown Tomato Bowl stadium as well as the obelisk structure at the nearby Killough Monument and Cemetery site. Within the same scope, a stone amphitheater was built into the base of the ridge. Tragically, time took its toll when the final remnants of the unique outdoor arena fell away many years ago.
Adding yet another element of nostalgia to this site is the structure serving as park sentinel – the City fire tower. A 125′ Aermotor tower is topped by a 7′ x 7′ cab and bears the City’s brand, standing as one of the last of the original 100 fire towers built the Texas Forest Service back in the thirties (and now owned by the City).
Stop, and let your jaw drop and your eyes pop at the lovely landscape of Love’s Lookout!