Port of Orange

Located on the west bank of the Sabine River, which separates the states of Texas and Louisiana, the city of Orange, Texas, officially came into existence in 1836, the year Texas won its independence from Mexico. However, its history, like that of the Lone Star State, goes back many years prior to that memorable date. The city is the county seat of Orange County and is the state’s most southeastern city. 

The area’s first known inhabitants were the Atakapas Indians, who arrived in the area around the year 1600. They lived mostly on seafood and wild game and worshiped ancestors who they believed came from the sea.

In 1718, the French arrived and were followed by the Spanish approximately 50 years later. The French developed a thriving pelt industry as traders by taking advantage of cheap Indian labor and the area’s natural supply of fur-bearing animals. Less successful in their exploitations than their predecessors, the Spanish gave way to the rising tide of American expansion and development.

Early in the 18th century, the high banks on the Texas side of the Sabine River attracted early pioneers who dared to enter the land destined to be the Republic of Texas and afterward the State of Texas. This point on the Sabine River first was known as Green’s Bluff as well as Huntley. It was named for a man by the name of Green who surveyed the first land plot on the site. There was also a time when the community was known as the Lower Town of Jefferson. At another time it was known as Madison, in honor of President James Madison, who then was serving his second term in office. Due to confusion with the town of Madisonville, Texas, it became necessary to give the growing community a new name. Because of the native orange groves that attracted the attention of boatmen as they navigated the Sabine River, the city was renamed to Orange.

The town grew steadily as a strategic link between the east and west sections of the United States. It served as a port for cotton-carrying cargo ships sailing the Sabine River. Lumber, cattle and agriculture also were important in the growth and development of the area.

The War Between the States, which lasted from 1861-1865, had disastrous effects on Orange by taking its toll on lives and property. When hostilities ceased, tragedy continued. A reign of terror marked by extreme lawlessness followed the end of the war, lasting for a decade. Additional hardships ensued in 1865, when one of the worst wind and rainstorms in Orange’s history brought about even more death and destruction.

Although these events hampered the city’s growth, ranchers were restocked with cattle, additional experiments were made in agriculture, and more lumber mills were built. Orange once again emerged on the path of development.

A big step forward for the city came in 1914 when the harbor was dredged to accommodate large ships. The operation was a great improvement to water transportation facilities and enabled the construction of ships during World War I. Wartime production resulted in a decided increase in the city’s population. With the end of the war in 1918, Orange enjoyed several years of prosperity, only to be slowed once again by the Great Depression.

In the late 1930s and early 1940s, World War II had a dramatic impact on the city of Orange. Almost overnight the small town, with its some 7,000 residents, became a bustling “booming” city of approximately 60,000 residents. Shipyards began building ships again, and other local industries were expanded to meet tremendous wartime demands. A U.S. Naval Station was installed, and additional housing was provided for thousands of defense workers and servicemen and their families.

All of the growth in Orange during the war years did not disappear with the end of hostilities. Many people who came to the city during wartime stayed after it ended to make their homes and raise their families. After the adjustment was made from wartime production to peacetime output, the population in the Orange area stabilized at around 35,000. The shipyards, lumber mills, port and Naval Station remained in the city, and by this time additional industries and businesses were being developed.

Today, Orange offers its citizens an array of employment, recreation and shopping opportunities. 

Governing structure

The City of Orange received its Charter as a Home Rule City on July 21, 1914. The Council-Manager form of government was adopted in 1954 and continues today. The city’s Commissions and Boards act as advisors for their respected divisions and were created by state or local legislative authority depending on their functions.


According to the 2005-2009 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, the City of Beaumont has a total population of 19,512 with 61.7% white, 33.3 African-American, and 2.3% Asian. Only 5.5% of the population is Hispanic. The median family income for 2009 was $51,043 with 17.5% of families below the poverty level. 6.2% of the population is under the age of five and 15.3% are over age 65. There are 58.3% residents in the labor force 16 years of age and older. The ratio of homeowner to renters is 61.4:38.6.

Access to health – hospitals, clinics, types of practitioners, health issues

Memorial Hermann Baptist Hospital is a 199 licensed acute care facility. 

Educational districts- name, number of students, levels

West Orange-Cove ISD serves the cities of Orange, West Orange and Pinehurst and has approximately 2500 students. 64% of the students are African-American, 26.3% white and 8.4% Hispanic. 77.6% are economically disadvantaged. 


Media outlets- contact

The Orange Leader and Orange County News are the two newspapers and three radio stations (AM & FM).

II.     Ecosystems

The word "Sabine" comes from the Spanish word for "cypress," referring to the stately trees which line the banks of the river. The Sabine River Basin is relatively long and narrow, with a length of approximately 300 miles and a maximum width of approximately 48 miles. It is roughly crescent-shaped, extending in a general southeasterly direction for a distance of some 165 miles from its source in Hunt County, Texas, to the Texas-Louisiana border in the vicinity of Logansport, Louisiana, thence in a southerly direction to Sabine Lake and the Gulf of Mexico. 


During the late 19th and early 20th centuries,  the middle Sabine River basin was the site of intensive logging operations, and numerous sawmills were built along the banks of the river and its tributaries. Downstream, the irrigation projects were built during the early 1900s. After the Spindletop oilfield boom of 1901, the Sabine basin also became the site of large-scale oil exploration. The growth of the oil industry led to the development of the Beaumont-Port Arthur-Orange metropolitan area as a major site for oil refining, processing, and shipping. 

As a consequence of these developments, the once clean waters of the Sabine became increasingly polluted. Decaying vegetation produced natural pollution. Runoff from fields added fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. Oil refineries and chemical plants discharged ammonia, phenol, sulfides, heavy metals such as zinc and lead, and other chemicals into the river. Straightening and deepening of the lower reaches of the river to improve navigation allowed salt water to back up into the estuary. Upstream diversions resulted in the lower reach of the river being frequently composed of a large percentage of treated municipal and industrial effluent. In recent years, however, efforts have been made to clean up the stream. 

An areawide water-quality management plan was adopted for the Beaumont-Port Arthur-Orange metropolitan area. But in the early 1990s the pollution problem continued, especially in the river's lower reaches. Management of the river and its watershed is overseen by the Sabine River Authority of Texas. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/rns03

III.     Port of Orange

Description / History


The Port of Orange became open to the Gulf of Mexico and the world's oceans in 1916 when a 25-foot channel through Sabine Lake, past Sabine Pass, and out to the Gulf of Mexico was completed.  The deep water port and the availability of lumber made the city an ideal location for the shipbuilding industry, which reached its highest production levels during World Wars I and II.

Governing Body

The Orange County Navigation and Port District is a navigation district and political subdivision of the  state of Texas. The District is governed by five commissioners, elected on staggered 4-year terms by voters in the district.

Ranking among US ports

Port of Orange ranks #149 out 150 US Ports for waterborne commerce. 

Principal activities and products- imports and exports

Principal activity is Long-Term Layberthing which includes Maritime Administration ships, Transmodal domestic cargo, barge and tug dry docking, fleeting, and repair/new construction of tugs, barges and offshore petroleum drilling rigs. Also, the Port of Orange has a long tradition of accommodating local industrial facilities with warehousing, packaging bulk cargo and railroad/truck shopping operations

Major industries

 Area industries include: petrochemical products, steel fabrication, shipbuilding, rubber products, paper products, and plastics.

1. DuPont Sabine River Works began operation in 1946 on the banks of the Sabine River in Orange, Texas (U.S.). The plant produces ethylene-based copolymers used for packaging films, adhesives, compounds and molded products.

2. Temple-Inland Lumber Mill

3. Lanxess

4. Invista Sarl

5. Firestone Polymers

6. Honeywell

7. Chevron-Phillips Chemical

8. Degussa EngineeringCarbons

Transmodal Marine Yard

The Port of Orange Transmodal Marine Yard (TMY) Project, funded in part by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, will equip the Port of Orange to handle products under an innovative cargo transportation system.  The TMY Project will develop new intermodal cargo transportation facilities at the Port’s Alabama Street Terminal which is located in Orange County, Texas at the intersection of the Sabine River and the Intracoastal Waterway.  The project consists of the following major components:

  1. A 430 linear foot bulkhead to facilitate loading/unloading of containers and project cargo onto barges 
  2. Loading and staging yard to facilitate transfers 
  3. Three lane heavy-duty roadway 36 feet wide to permit the movement of intermodal and project cargo within the terminal

The Transmodal Marine Yard Project is anticipated to be completed in March, 2011.

IV.       Environmental Quality/ Monitors / Contamination remediation

Air monitors, placement

  • The air monitor, measuring NOX and ozone is located in the City of West Orange Texas.

V.     Advocate’s contact information

Hilton Kelly
1301 Kansas Avenue
Port Arthur, TX 77640
(409) 498-1088