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The seat of Van Zandt county, Canton was settled in 1850 by people from Old Canton in Smith County. When a railway built in 1872 missed Canton by 10 miles, citizens of Wills Point persuaded officials to make their town the county seat. In the resulting dispute, armed residents of Canton went to Wills Point to get the county records back, and a judge wired the governor for help. The Supreme Court of Texas eventually decided in Canton's favor.
Today, Canton is a National Main Street City with a historic downtown that offers shopping, antiques and eateries. The city's First Monday Trade Days is one of the nation's largest flea market events. It runs from sunup to sundown Thursday through Sunday before the first Monday of each month. The Van Zandt County Fair and Rodeo is held in June.
The 18-hole Twin Lakes Golf Course, south of town off State Highway 19, offers one of the most challenging layouts in East Texas.