East Texas is a distinct cultural and geographic area in the US state of Texas. East Texas is centered around Houston and Beaumont/ Port Arthur in the south and Tyler, Longview/Marshall, and Texarkana in the north.
East Texas busts the western movie stereotype of Texas. Rather than plains and prairie, East Texas is rolling hills, lush forests, and even swamps. The culture of East Texas is Southern rather than Southwestern. Houston is more diverse than the rest of East Texas and has a strong international influence.
According 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 region. This area includes all or parts of 49 counties, totalling almost 40,000 square miles (100,000 km²) and a population of almost 6 million.
The geography is composed mainly of the Piney Woods, a mixed forest of deciduous and conifer flora. The Piney woods cover 23,500 square miles (61,000 km²) of gently rolling or hilly forested land. These woods are part of a much larger region of pine-hardwood forest that extends into Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. The Piney Woods thin out as it nears the Gulf of Mexico. East Texas lies within the Gulf Coastal Plain and receives more rainfall, 35 to 50 inches, than the rest of Texas. The climate is mild and ranges from temperate to sub-tropical. In Houston the average January temperature is 50.4 ºF (10.2 ºC) and the average July temperature is 82.6 ºF (28.1 ºC), however Houston has slightly warmer winters than most of East Texas.
The Sabine 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. In 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 dominate 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 adjoing 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.
Culturally East Texas is more closely akin to Arkansas, Louisiana, and even Mississippi than it is to West Texas. East Texas is in the Bible Belt creating a strong Fundamentalist Christian sentiment. Sizable Jewish communities have also thrived in Houston, Galveston and Marshall since the late 19th century. Though a fifth of Texas' population is now Hispanic, African Americans are still the most populous minority in East Texas. Hispanics do outnumber African Americans in Houston. During the Civil Rights Movement, several communities clashed over integration.
The Museum of East Texas was opened in Lufkin in 1976 under the name the Lufkin Historical and Creative Arts Center.
In land area
Other notable cities
- 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 1878096001
Wild Flowers of the Big Thicket, East Texas, and Western Louisiana, by Geyata Ajilvsgi ISBN 0890960658
List of Texas regions
Last updated: 09-03-2005 18:37:12