Smithville is perhaps best known as the home of “Hope Floats,” the 1998 movie starring Sandra Bullock, Harry Connick Jr., and Gena Rowlands. It was also the location for “Tree of Life,” starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, filmed in 2008.
The town also earned the Guinness Book of World Records award for baking the “World’s Largest Gingerbread Man.” The creation, which was baked over hot coals during Smithville’s annual Festival of Lights celebration in 2006, weighed 1,308 pounds, 8 ounces.
Smithville’s natural features make it a “must ride destination” for bicyclists, whether it is through the oak-lined streets of town or the beautifully wooded, winding roads of Buescher State Park. Sitting high atop the banks of the Colorado River, Smithville is also a popular choice for kayakers.
Want to learn a little more about our town’s history? Visit Heritage House Museum. The railroad presence has been integral to the community, and a railroad museum and park were established in Smithville in 1991.
Smithville also touts a variety of historic bed & breakfast inns, charming downtown shops including art and antique dealers, and restaurants ranging from gourmet dining to Texas’ best barbecue.
Smithville Early History
The village of “old Smithville” was laid out on 640 acres of land granted to Thomas J. Gazley and Lewis Lomas. The town was located on the Colorado River in the northeast section of present Smithville. The Taylor, Bastrop and Houston Railroad arrived in 1886 and the town relocated along the tracks. Legend has it that a coin was tossed to decide if the name would be changed to “Burlesonville” (for Murray Burleson, who gave the land for the railroad depot). The coin toss resulted in “Smithville” being retained as the name (most likely in honor of pioneer settler William Smith). Smithville’s early growth was attributed mainly to the Taylor, Bastrop and Houston Railroad, which brought its first passenger train through Smithville in 1886. The town was incorporated in 1895.