The town began as an unincorporated community known as the “Old Bethel Community” in the 1960s after completion of Cedar Creek Reservoir. It was incorporated in the late 1960s so it could legally sell beer and wine. The city takes its name from a former road, Gun Barrel Lane (which is now State Highway 198), as well as its motto, “We Shoot Straight with You” and its symbol – a rifle with two crossed antique pistols. Gun Barrel Lane got its name during the 1920s and ’30s when outlaws frequented the area. It was considered a safe backwoods place during Prohibition when the likes of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker hung out in the area. A local resident, Mr. C. L. Wait, lived along the road and was known for sitting at the window of his house with a shotgun sticking out the window. It was his way of deterring those he deemed unwelcome on this back country road.
Despite having a name that evokes images of the Texas Frontier, Gun Barrel City is only fifty years old. Not long after Cedar Creek Lake (a reservoir for the Tarrant Regional Water District) completed construction, the fledgling community that sat on its banks took steps to officially become a city.
Gun Barrel City was incorporated on May 26, 1969. Since that time, Gun Barrel City has grown into the central hub and access point for the waters of Cedar Creek Lake. This has led visitors from around the region to use Gun Barrel City as the gateway into the lake. In addition to the high amount of tourism that the community witnesses (particularly during the summer boating season), Gun Barrel City and the surrounding communities have experienced a residential building boom over the past several years. This growth has largely been led by the relocation of wealthy retirees from throughout the Dallas region, building large lake homes in order to take advantage of Gun Barrel City’s lake access.
In May 2000, Gun Barrel City voters elected their 13th Mayor, 21-year-old Entrepreneur and Newspaper Publisher, Randal Tye Thomas, who became a media and political celebrity in the Dallas, Texas metropolitan area. After a very successful year as Mayor, marked by widespread community support, he resigned suddenly in May 2001 following a Grand Jury indictment for one count of misdemeanor perjury and in the same week being arrested by the Gun Barrel City Police Department for Public Intoxication. All criminal charges were eventually dismissed. Thomas and the community were featured in many local, state, and national publications and programs, including a feature story in the magazine Texas Monthly and a feature interview on the popular nationwide NPR program This American Life. Thomas moved to the Dallas, Texas area in 2002.
In 2008, Gun Barrel City received the coveted Certified Retirement Community recognition from the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Go Texan program. The community has also received recognition from the Governor’s Office, receiving second place on two separate occasions in the Governor’s Community Achievement Awards.
Lonestar RV Parks is located approximately 4 miles from Gun Barrel Texas via TX-334W