Today, Jefferson is a quiet little vacation community in the forests of East Texas. But not so long ago, it was the sort of rowdy saloon and riverboat town where Mark Twain would feel right at home. Cotton was king and this city—hundreds of miles from the coast—gained a reputation as a miniature New Orleans. This lasted until the Army Corps of Engineers opened up the Red River and turned what was once a thriving port city into just another out-of-the-way town. A classic boomtown, Jefferson went from nothing to a thriving metropolis to a near ghost town in less than 40 years.