East Texas is a distinct
geographic and ecological area in the U.S. state of
to the Handbook of Texas,
the East Texas area "may be separated from the rest of Texas
roughly by a line extending from the Red
River in north central Lamar County southwestward to east central Limestone
County and then southeastward to Galveston Bay", though
some separate the Gulf Coast area into a separate
Red counties show the core of East Texas; pink and red counties may
or may not be included in East Texas, and thus their inclusion
varies from source to source.
This area includes all or parts of 49 counties, totaling almost and
a population of almost 6 million. Another popular, somewhat
simpler, definition defines East Texas as the region between
as the western
border linking Dallas and Houston, the Louisiana Border as the
eastern border, the Oklahoma/Texas border as the northern border,
and Galveston Bay shores as the southern border.
Most of the region consists of the Piney
, and East Texas can
sometimes be reduced to include only the Piney Woods. Houston has
distanced itself from East Texas over the past fifty years and is
today more associated with the Coastal Bend along the Gulf of Mexico; however Houston has been
considered part of East Texas for most of the city's
At the fringes, towards central Texas, the forests
expand outward toward sparser trees and eventually into open
Climate is the unifying factor in the region's geography—all of
east Texas has the humid
typical of the Southeast, occasionally
interrupted by intrusions of cold air from the north. East Texas
receives more rainfall, , than the rest of Texas. In Houston the
average January temperature is and the average July temperature is
, however Houston has slightly warmer winters than most of East
Texas due to its proximity to the coast.
All of East Texas also lies within the Gulf Coastal Plain
, but with less
uniformity than the climate with rolling
in the north and flat coastal
in the south. Local vegetation also varies from north to
south with the lower third consisting of the temperate grassland
to South Louisiana
. The upper two-thirds of the
region dominated by temperate
known as the Piney Woods
which extends over . The Piney Woods are part of a much larger
region of pine-hardwood
forest that extends into Louisiana, Arkansas, and
Oklahoma. The Piney Woods thins out as it nears the
River and Trinity River are the major rivers in East Texas, but the
Brazos River and Red
River also flow through the region. The Brazos cuts
through the southwest portion of the region while the Red River
forms its northern border with Oklahoma and a portion of Arkansas.
East Texas and the rest of the South, small rivers and creeks
collect into swamps called "Bayous
and merge with the surrounding forest. Bald cypress
and Spanish moss
are the dominant plants in bayous.
The most famous of these bayous are Cypress Bayou
and Buffalo Bayou
. Cypress Bayou surrounds the Big, Little,
and Black Cypress rivers around Jefferson. They flow east into Caddo Lake and the adjoining wetlands cover the rim and
islands of the lake. Most of Buffalo Bayou was cleared to create
the Houston Ship
Channel, the remaining portions of Buffalo Bayou are in Downtown Houston.
Outside of the Greater Houston
the average population density is around 18–45 per mi² (7–12 per
km²), with the population density near the Big Thicket dropping
below 18 people per mi². East Texas's population is centered around
Greater Houston and Beaumont/Port Arthur/Orange in Southeast Texas, Lufkin/Nacogdoches in Deep East Texas,
and Tyler, Longview/Marshall, and Texarkana in Northeast
Texas. At its western edge, East Texas overlaps
with Central and North Texas; so cities
Station, Corsicana, and Greenville may be included in liberal definitions of East
Texas. Only eight miles from the Texas border,
Louisiana, is considered the economic and cultural center for
the Ark-La-Tex, the area where Arkansas, Louisiana, and East Texas
East Texas is often considered the westernmost extension of the
, and is culturally connected
to the rest of the Southern United States more than the other
regions of Texas. The Museum of East Texas was opened in
Lufkin in 1976
under the name the Lufkin Historical and Creative Arts
The East Texas coastline is also home to many
Deep East Texas
Deep East Texas is a subregion of East Texas. According to the
Deep East Texas
Council of Governments the region consists of the following
twelve counties: Angelina, Houston, Jasper, Nacogdoches, Newton, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity, and Tyler.
Many structures in these counties were
heavily damaged or destroyed by Hurricane
The "Deep" designation comes from the similarity to East Texas (it
is similar in culture and geography, being highly forested), but
with a location "deeper" (i.e., further east and away from the
) than the rest of East
"Deep" also refers to the cultural and social characteristics of
the area and is considered synonymous to "The Big Thicket," an
allusion to the dense growth of underbrush
in the "piney woods." It was the earliest
area of Texas to be settled by Anglo-Americans (and one of the last
to submit to law enforcement—by the governments of Spain, Mexico, the
Republic of Texas, state of Texas
or the United States.) Renegade clans controlled local governments,
especially in Shelby County, well into the first quarter of the
contains two of the oldest towns in Texas; Nacogdoches, the oldest town in Texas, dating from 18th
century, and San
Augustine, the oldest "Anglo" settlement in Texas, dating
from the 1820s.
Prior to the Texas War of Independence
settlement was generally prohibited by the Spanish and later
Mexican governments, but neither government was able to exert
control or law enforcement in the area. As a consequence, the "Big
Thicket" became a refuge for criminals fleeing the United States
and hiding out in a "no man's land" in the pine thickets.
decades leading to 2009, crude oil production in the East Texas
Oil Field, the largest oil field in the United States,
In turn, the number of high-paying jobs for
uneducated workers also decreased. Many small towns had closed
cafés and gas stations, some of which were replaced with cash loan
shops and pawn shops.
Paul Knight of the Houston
in a 2009 article that "some say [[[natural gas]]]
has surpassed crude
as king in East
In the years before 2009, methamphetamine
usage increased in East
Texas, resulting in increased levels of thievery. More cattle rustling
occurs in East Texas than in
any other region of Texas. In 2008, American newspapers reported an
increase of cattle rustling in East Texas. Theft from oil drilling
sites has also occurred in East Texas.
Knight of the Houston Press
said in a 2009 article that some people blamed the development of
the artificial Cedar
Creek Lake, which opened in 1965, and development of the area
surrounding the lake for the initial influx of crime and
recreational drugs into the region. Carroll Dyson, a
retired pilot and Henderson County resident interviewed by the Houston Press,
said in 2009 that the lake attracted "white
flight" from metropolitan areas. Dyson added, "When
all your rich people from Dallas and
Houston move out
here, the thieves are just drawn to them.
Thieves are just
wired that way. You used to not have to lock your door in Henderson
County." Ray Nutt, the sheriff of Henderson County, said in the
same article that when the lake first opened, there was no zoning
and "a lot of elderly people bought a mobile home and moved in; it
was nice. Then they passed away and family members sold them off or
just let them go down." Nutt added that the area around the lake
has "a lot of good people," yet it also where "a lot of criminals
tend to flow."
Knight said that Danny Seeders is "perhaps the most famous thief"
in the era leading to September 2009. In the 1990s Seeders
operated a legitimate golf ball recovery business, while at the
same time, along with family members and friends, he burglarized
businesses in East Texas; he mostly targeted businesses in Polk
After being captured, sentenced to seven
years in prison, and released, Seeders resumed his stealing spree.
Before he was arrested for a second time in 2005, he and his allies
had taken $750,000 in four years. Therefore the arrest of Seeders
was one of the largest "business burglary rings" in Texas's
history. A detective who had investigated the Seeders case told
"That's what's so sad
about this; they could have made a good enough living, but it just
wasn't in them."
- " Weather." Handbook of Texas. Retrieved on
September 28, 2009
- Knight, Paul. "Superthief." September 22, 2009. 1. Retrieved on September 28, 2009.
- Knight, Paul. "Superthief." September 22, 2009. 2. Retrieved on September 28, 2009.
- CHINQUA WHERE? The Spirit of Rural America,
1947-1955, ISBN 978-0972965507 by Fred B. McKinley.
- Black Gold to Bluegrass: From the Oil Fields of Texas to
Spindletop Farm of Kentucky, ISBN 157168946X by Fred B.
McKinley and Greg Riley.
- Gone to Texas: Genealogical Abstracts from The Telegraph
and Texas Register 1835-1841, compiled by Kevin Ladd.
- The EAST TEXAS SUNDAY DRIVE Book, by Bob Bowman ISBN
- Wild Flowers of the Big Thicket, East Texas, and Western
Louisiana, by Geyata Ajilvsgi ISBN 0-89096-065-8.
- Two centuries in East Texas: A history of
San Augustine County and surrounding territory from 1685
(Hardcover)by George Louis Crocket (Author)ASIN: B00089CVW8.
- "Poet o' the Pines", by Milton Watts - site.