Palestine (pronounced PAL-eh-steeeeen), Texas, is a small town approximately 100 miles southeast of Dallas
in the humid and swampy terrain of East Texas
. The population is approximately 30,000 and it lies at the intersection of several US federal and state highways, and is about 50 miles from interstate 35
. It is the home of NASA's National Scientific Ballooning Facility
, a site from which high altitude balloons are launched, and, coincidentally, it is also where some of the wreckage from the space shuttle Columbia
landed. Other employers include a hospital and a community college.
In the last half of the 19th century, Palestine was a railroad loading point for the produce of the region and was the major city in East Texas, with a population larger than Dallas. In the years since, the town center has been almost completely shuttered, and commercial activity is entirely concentrated in the strip malls that line the wide by-pass ring road built around the town. With Palestine, there truly is no there there.