Rockland is in the extreme northeast corner of Tyler County close to the Jasper county line and near the Neches River, which forms the boundary between Tyler and Angelina counties. Rockland was named for the exposed limestone bedrock of the area, which provides building stone for much of Tyler County. Fuller's earth is also found in the Rockland area; for some time this mineral was shipped to Angelina County to be processed as a cosmetic base or to the Gulf Coast for use in petroleum refining. In 1882 the Sabine and East Texas Railroad reached Rockland from Beaumont. A post office was started in Rockland in 1883; early postmasters were John Delaney and William H. Alderidge. From November 1894 to July 1895 Alderidge operated a sawmill at Rockland, after which he sold it to William Cameron and Company. A Masonic lodge was chartered in 1907. The first business in Rockland was a saloon, at a site below the present Neches bridge, owned by Mac Dunkin. The first ferry across the Neches near the townsite was taken over by Dunkin after being started by a man named Graham about 1885. The Dunkin ferry was in operation until the present highway bridge was built. The second business, owned by a man named Roark, was a general store. Roark also ran a rock quarry southeast of the town. Other establishments and buildings included a second general store, two hotels, 150 to 200 dwellings for sawmill workers, a school and church building, three doctors' offices, two drugstores, a livery stable, a dance hall, and a railroad station.
When the Texas and New Orleans Railroad bought out the East Texas line and planned to extend it to Dallas, there was much local opposition at Rockland. Many rightly thought that Rockland's status as a railroad terminus would end abruptly when the railroad was extended across the Neches. The Cameron Company closed its mill in 1911, and with the mill went many of the town's businesses not already closed by the effect of the railroad extension. However, as late as 1946 Rockland was still shipping about twenty cars of poles and piling each week, and there was also a pulpwood yard in the area. By 1975 one general store and the post office were the only businesses still in operation at Rockland. From 1900 until the 1940s Rockland had about 300 residents. Afterward until the late 1980s the population was about 100. In 1990 the population was 105. The population remained the same in 2000.