Travelling & Living in Big Sandy Texas (TX)

1. About Big Sandy Texas (TX)

Big Sandy was founded in the 1800’s when the railroad constructed a junction switch here, and the trains still run down those lines. Big Sandy is located at the crossroads of East Texas and the intersection of Hwy. 80 and Highway. 155. Interstate Highway 20 is 10 miles South.

Within our city limits and a five minute drive for residents are: A grocery store; discount store; gas stations; convenience stores; medical clinic; hair salons; banks; post office; automotive garages; shops; movie rental store; dance hall; liquor stores; laundry-mat; newspaper office; day care; a small lake; city park; public schools; and many churches of all denominations.

Because Big Sandy is at the crossroads of East Texas, it is an easy 30 minute drive to Tyler and Longview, where there are thousands of stores, shops, restaurants, and businesses; including every chain store and eatery imaginable. Casinos are approx. 75 miles east in Louisiana. Dallas is about an hour and a half away. Several regional and small airports are short drives from Big Sandy.

Big Sandy is a brief drive (approx. 30 min. or less) to: Caldwell Zoo in Tyler, Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge, Tyler State Park, Hawkins Lake, East Texas Oil Museum, Gladewater Rodeo, The Great American Balloon Glow, The Gilmer Yamboree, The Tyler Rose Gardens, Tyler Azalea Trail, Vineyards at Pittsburg, and many, many, small-town festivals throughout the year that are family oriented and often free.

The Big Sandy Chamber of Commerce sponsors a 4th of July Parade and fireworks show, a Christmas Parade, a Fall Heritage Festival, and an Easter Egg Hunt. The Rotary has an annual golf tournament (golf course 5 minutes away).
The Big Sandy Ministerial Alliance conducts several activities throughout the year as joint ventures including dinners, a non-denominational Easter Sunrise Service, a Christmas Church Walk, a community-wide Thanksgiving dinner, a Vacation Bible School, and the operation of a charity food bank and thrift store.

For sportsmen, there are over 31 fresh water lakes in the East Texas Area that provide the opportunity for fishing and water sports within minutes of Big Sandy. People have pulled 13 pound bass out of the small lake here in town. Deer, squirrel, and wild hogs abound in the woods around us. There are many campgrounds for weekend enjoyment.
Opportunities for higher education are short drives away with Tyler Jr. College, University of Texas at Tyler, Kilgore Jr. College, LeTourneau University, and Jarvis Christian College very close.

There is 24 hour a day police and ambulance service, and a Volunteer Fire Dept., even though we are a community with a population of only 1,288.

Hospitals within 30 miles or closer include: The University of Texas Health Center at Tyler, Trinity Mother Frances Health System, ETMC Regional Health-Care System, ETMC Gilmer, and Longview Regional Hospital.

Big Sandy has a small town atmosphere with big city conveniences. Children in our public schools here are not just someone’s child they are our neighbor’s children.

2. History of Big Sandy


Big Sandy, also known as Big Sandy Switch, at the junction of State Highway 155, U.S. Highway 80, and Farm Road 2911, fourteen miles southwest of Gilmer in extreme southwestern Upshur County, was established in the early 1870s. In 1873 the Texas and Pacific Railway was built through the area, and around 1880 the Tyler Tap, a narrow-gauge railroad, intersected the Texas and Pacific just south of Big Sandy Creek. A switch was constructed at the junction of the two railroads and came to be known as Big Sandy Switch, after the creek. By the early 1880s a small settlement, also known as Big Sandy Switch, began to grow up. A post office was established in 1875, and two merchants named Arenson and Yesner opened stores around the same time. By 1885 the community, now known as Big Sandy, had several stores and saloons, Baptist and Methodist churches, a school, and an estimated population of 500. Several hotels and restaurants opened by 1900, and by the eve of World War Iqv Big Sandy had two banks, a weekly newspaper named the Times, and a cotton market. The town’s principal products included lumber, cotton, potatoes, and livestock. The community incorporated on June 21, 1926. The estimated population was 850 in 1929. By 1933 the population had fallen to 579, and the community had twenty businesses, several churches and schools, and a large number of houses. After World War IIqv Big Sandy again began to grow. The population increased from 609 in 1945 to over 1,000 by 1958, when the number of businesses was twenty-eight. In the mid-1960s Big Sandy had five or six churches, a high school, and twenty businesses. In 1990 the town was a regional commercial and shipping center with twenty-eight businesses and a population of 1,185. In 2000 the population was 1,288.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: G. H. Baird, A Brief History of Upshur County (Gilmer, Texas: Gilmer Mirror, 1946). Doyal T. Loyd, History of Upshur County (Waco: Texian Press, 1987). Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.

3. Map and Directions

Big Sandy, TX on Google Map

big sandy map

4. Big Sandy Police Department

Emergency call 911
Non Emergency 903-636-4200

5. Big Sandy Volunteer Fire Department

Emergency call 911
Non Emergency 903-636-5464

6. City Services

Call City Hall (903) 636-4343

Water Dept. (903) 636-4343

Local Non-City

United States Post Office (903) 636-4350

7. Big Sandy Business Park

With major highways, as well as railroads running north, south, east and west, Big Sandy is a prime area for business opportunities.

Close enough to major cities yet remote enough to offer the quiet atmosphere of a family oriented community, Big Sandy is a place with a lot to share.

The Big Sandy Community Development Corporation provides assistance and incentives to corporations seeking to locate in the Big Sandy Business Park.

Come and visit the existing corporation and its expanding facility to see it’s positive business climate. We are a caring community that would like to share its assets with you!

A Great Business Location

The Big Sandy Business Park was the brain-child of the Big Sandy Community Development
Corporation. An out-of-state corporation was considering relocating some of its smaller offices away from East Texas in the mid-90’s. Concerned community leaders formed and worked with State officials to establish a business park in the hopes that employment opportunities would remain in the area. Success was achieved and the Indiana based company not only remained in the area but combined many of its offices and services in this 140,000 square foot building (shown above).

big sandy park


Interested businesses may qualify for zero interest construction loans or donated land depending upon eligibility.


Traffic enters the Park from US Hwy 155. Traffic studies indicate over 9,000 cars pass the main highway in an 8-hour period. US Hwy 80 is one minute north running east and west. I-20 is 10 minutes to the south.

The Park includes water, sewer, electrical, gas and railroad service along with fire protection.


Located in Upshur County, Big Sandy is 112 miles due east of Dallas and 90 miles west of Shreveport, LA.
Gilmer, Texas is the county seat and is located to the north just 15 minutes. Two neighboring cities of Longview and Tyler, are within a 30 minute drive.

The city of Big Sandy received 1 million dollars in grants in 2006 for various projects.
Funding sources included the Texas Community Development Block Grant Program, the HOME
Program, the Texas Capital Fund and the U.S.Economic Development Administration.


The University of Texas Health Center at Tyler
Located 15 minutes south from the Big Sandy Business Park at the intersection of US Hwys 155 and 271.

Trinity Mother Frances Health System located at 800 E. Dawson, Tyler, TX.

ETMC Regional Health-care System
Located 1000 S. Beckham, Tyler, TX. Nationally recognized as a “Solucient 100 Top Hospitals”.

ETMC Gilmer is a Level IV trauma center located 15 minutes north of Big Sandy

ETMC Big Sandy is an ambulance station staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Area schools and universities:

Big Sandy ISD 1-A
Jarvis Christian College
Kilgore Junior College
Letourneau University
Texas College
Tyler Junior College
University of Texas at Tyler

Airports serving the East Texas area include:

East Texas Regional Airport and Tyler Pounds Regional Airport. Both located approx. 30 minutes from Big Sandy.

Texas Parks and Wildlife boast 31 fresh-water lakes in the East Texas Piney Woods offering water sports and fishing opportunities within minutes of Big Sandy.


Azalea Trails—Tyler, TX
Caldwell Zoo—Tyler, TX
Hudnall Planetarium—Tyler, TX
Gladewater Roundup Rodeo—Gladewater, TX
International Alert Academy—Big Sandy, TX
Kiepersol Estates Vineyard—Tyler, TX
East Texas Oil Museum—Kilgore, TX
Gilmer Yamboree—Gilmer, TX
Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards Winery—Pittsburg, TX
The Great American Balloon Glow—Longview, TX

8. Fun N Fall Fun for All

Fun N Fall was fun for all Saturday in Big Sandy. Over 200 youngsters and their families visited New Beginnings Christian Fellowship Church for food, entertainment, and an old fashioned good time. There wasn’t a goblin in sight-only pumpkins, super-heroes, princesses, fairies, and other friendly folks.

The morning started with a soap box derby downtown and a Rotary Waffle Breakfast, but went on to a full afternoon of free family events.

One of the most popular activities for the children was inspecting the Big Sandy Patrol car after being finger printed by Officer Shannon Davis. Youngsters had their chance to be ‘Junior Policemen’. They flipped the siren switches on, and on. You get the picture (or however you try to write the sound of a siren). They barked into the loud speaker warning folks to Step back, or I will arrest you. It was easy to see the youngsters of Big Sandy watch lots of police shows on television. They spoke with authority, and called folks by name. You better look out-the little ones are really watching the grown-ups.

If they didn’t pretend to be a police officer, they had a chance to practice being a fireman. Three of the Big Sandy fire trucks were in the parking lot. Youngsters got a chance to hose down the ground. Volunteer Fireman Bradley DeCuir helped them hold the hose and aim until they ran out of water.
Children jumped on bouncy houses till they got too tired to bounce any more, and parents with cameras got dizzy trying to freeze a snap shot in mid-air. New Beginnings and the Big Sandy CDC helped foot the bill for three big blow up jumpers-a slide, an obstacle course, and a castle. The Big Sandy Chamber of Commerce helped with the event, also.

SFG provided hot dogs, chips, drinks, and cookies. Frozen yogurt from New Beginnings created a cool snack in the warm weather, and the smell of popcorn filled the air. A ten foot Too Tall man walked around on stilts handing out candy. Hula-hoopers spun their plastic loops round and round until they fell on the ground. One teenage girl dressed in black had some fancy moves, but Melody Payne from Austin Bank gave her a good run for the money, rather-candy. Furry-four legged friends dressed in costumes paraded the grounds. Cake walkers took home prized goodies.

Little ones and older kids alike tried their chance at ‘shooting the hoops’ for treats. Youngsters sparkled their hair with spray glitter at one booth, and had their faces painted with butterflies and other designs at a different table. Several grown up engineers ran a train pulled by a lawn tractor filled with little ones riding the barrel cars around the empty lot.

Dads got a peek at a couple of cool cars, but the most familiar pair was Sonny Parsons’ Beauty and the Beast. He parked his poor ole rust covered, dilapidated 1974 Toyota truck beside his beautiful 1993, 40th Anniversary Corvette. Parsons appreciates beauty, but he also appreciates it when a vehicle just rolls down the road filled with a load of pine needles for his flowers.

Everyone had a good time. Little ones went home all tuckered out and if they didn’t eat too much candy, they probably had a great nights sleep. The host, New Beginnings Church, had a big mess to clean up before their services the next morning, but they always volunteer their time and facilities joyfully. Once again, the community gathered for a great day of fellowship.