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Written by Ruston Lincoln Chamber   

While Lincoln Parish offers an idyllic, old-fashioned lifestyle, it is also known throughout the state as being a very progressive town in several areas. Ruston boasts one of the strongest economies in Louisiana. Business is booming in all segments. Two major universities, Louisiana Tech and Grambling State, are firm underpinnings of a well-rounded economy based on education, natural resources, retail and service, transportation, manufacturing, agriculture and banking and financial services. With a location anchored by an East-West Interstate and North-South U.S. Highway, and equidistant from Dallas, Little Rock, Jackson, MS. and the many metropolitan areas of South Louisiana, it’s no coincidence that Ruston and Lincoln Parish are a perennial hotbed of economic development.

Art shows, church socials, picnics at the park, a crawfish boil with co-workers — it seems families always have something fun planned. Ours is a community made up of people who like to stay active, not only for their own pleasure, but also for the benefit of others. Volunteerism is a passion in Lincoln Parish.

It is said that the strength of a community is determined by the values of its people. Based on that assumption, our home in the heart of the Piney Hills is a very strong community indeed. Whether it be for a day, a weekend or a lifetime, we invite you to share the good life with us in Lincoln Parish. You will be glad you did!

History of Lincoln Parish

As the Era of Reconstruction took hold following the Civil War, a new parish was carved from existing ones in 1873 and named after recently slain president Abraham Lincoln. Word soon reached the young parish that the Vicksburg, Shreveport and Pacific Railroad would begin to run across north Louisiana, linking the Deep South with the Wild Wild West.

For one individual, this brought to fruition a lifelong dream of having people living nearby whom he could call neighbors. Little did Robert E. Russ know that his dream for a new town to be located near his plantation would eventually become known as Ruston (shorthand for Russ town). By 1884, Ruston was incorporated. Russ had donated roughly 640 acres for the town's location, and former Union Army surveyors working for the railroad had laid out unusually wide, spacious avenues among the towering oaks and pines. Commercial and residential lots were created and soon the sawing of lumber and clacking of hammers could be heard throughout the area.

As the town began to take shape, new churches, businesses, civic organizations and schools were being established. The vast stands of virgin timber and the availability of fertile lands for cotton farming fueled the booming economy. In 1900 a second railroad, running north and south, was built through Ruston. This brought even more business and industry to the area and the population continued to provide a foundation for the local economy. By the outbreak of World War I in 1917, Ruston was well established as a center for learning, a place of civic pride and as an area of economic prosperity throughout the region.

Ruston continued to grow steadily during the post-war prosperity of the 1950's. The GI Bill, which sent war veterans to college, helped fuel the local economy, causing tremendous growth at the local universities and brought many new families to Ruston. By the late 1950's, news reached Ruston that would have significant impact - a new interstate highway was to be built that would run through the northern fringe of the city. Completed by the early 1970's this coast-to-coast highway made Ruston more easily accessible, much as the railroad had done a century before. This, too, brought new opportunities for growth and development.

In the 1980's, the state's economy lagged after the oil industry went "belly-up." Ruston, however, continued growing steadily, fueled primarily by the cornerstones of the local economy, Louisiana Tech and Grambling State, which continued to expand programs and increase enrollment. The city also had its centennial celebration during this decade, and emphasis was put on revitalizing the historic downtown district. A joint effort between the city, the Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, the Louisiana Main Street Program, the Louisiana Department of Historic Preservation and beautification projects restored Ruston's historic downtown to the hustling and bustling center of the community. More than 15 historic buildings have been placed on the National Register. Storefronts are again filled, as are most parking spaces. The restoration has been a "shot in the arm" for the local economy and has helped draw the community closer to its roots.

Ruston has experienced unprecedented growth during the 1990's. In 1993 alone, there was more than $60 million worth of new construction within the city. New subdivisions are popping up everywhere, and the city is quickly developing into a regional medical and retirement center.

The city has a new airport to serve existing business and industry, and the timber, poultry and cattle industries continue to expand.

The universities have achieved unparalleled success in many fields and Downtown also continues to offer people a variety of retail shops and fine eateries. The school system continues to lead the state in test scores and student achievement, both academically and athletically. The area's unemployment rate remains constant, hovering between 2.5% to 3%.The city now stands poised for further growth and prosperity. As Robert E. Russ envisioned, it is a place for friends and neighbors. True to his dream, the city continues to open its doors to those looking for a healthy business environment, an opportunity to receive a quality education and a great place to raise a family.