Mount Vernon (population 2,286), the county seat of Franklin County, was first settled in the mid-1840s and served as the major supply and shipping center for the county's farmers for much of its history.
Predating Anglo settlement of the area, two important Indian trade routes—the Choctaw Trail and the Cherokee Trace—crossed the county. The Bankhead Highway, the first transcontinental highway across America, followed the route of the Choctaw Trail in Franklin County and is Mt. Vernon's Main Street.
The city recently used proceeds from its state hotel/motel occupancy tax to mark these and other historic transportation routes. It also recently opened a new visitor center in the 1868 home of Henry Clay Thruston, famous as the tallest soldier in the Confederate army, at 7 feet, 7 inches. The Thruston House is one of five historical museums in the community.
Throughout Mt. Vernon and Franklin County, over 60 pre-World War I homes are marked with historic markers that are keyed to a driving tour. The city promotes heritage tourism through its participation in the Texas Forest Trail heritage tourism initiative of the Texas Historical Commission.
Designated a Preserve America Community in August 2004.