The idea for an arboretum was conceived in August 1996, when State Sen. Robert Nichols, then a local businessman, donated 3.5 acres of land in Jacksonville to serve as the home for a new Texas A&M Forest Service office building. He leased an adjacent, similiarly-sized parcel of land to the agency for just $1 per year.
After giving it some thought, Texas A&M Forest Service officials decided to create on the adjoining land an arboretum devoted to educating school children, Boy Scouts, Master Gardeners and other local groups. The new office building opened its doors in May 1999 and the arboretum followed suit shortly thereafter.
Named in honor of Sen. Nichols' mother, the Ruth Bowling Nichols Arboretum features several trails. The main trail is a quarter-mile long and broken into three sections, each featuring the different types of forests - pure pine, mixed hardwood and pine and hardwood - that are represented along the trail. Historic trees have been planted in open areas along the trail, as well as rows of the different types of pines that can be found in East Texas.
The Ruth Bowling Nochols Arboretum is open to various educational groups. For additional information, visit the Arboretum at 1015 South East Loop 456, Jacksonville, TX 75766 or call (903) 586-7545 during office hours of 8 am to 5 pm, Monday-Friday.