Shelby County is on the eastern boundary of the state, in a bulge of the Sabine River that separates it from Desoto and Sabine parishes in Louisiana. The county is bounded on the south by San Augustine and Sabine counties, on the west by Rusk and Nacogdoches counties, and on the north by Panola County. The county seat and largest town is Center, which is 160 miles northeast of Houston and forty miles northeast of Nacogdoches. Center is named for its location at the geographic center of the county, which lies at 31°47' north latitude and 94°11' west longitude. Two major highways cross the county, U.S. Highway 96, which traverses the center of the county from north to south, and U.S. Highway 84, which traverses the northern portion of the county from east to west. The county's transportation needs are also served by two railroads, the Timberrock Railroad, which traverses the county along the route of Highway 96, and the Union Pacific, which follows roughly the same route as Highway 84. Shelby County comprises 791 square miles of the East Texas timberlands, an area that is heavily forested with a great variety of softwoods and hardwoods, especially pine, cypress, and oak. The terrain varies from undulating to rolling with elevation ranging from 150 to 400 feet above mean sea level. The soil varies from a gray sandy loam on the uplands to a black rich loam in the bottom lands. Between 21 and 30 percent of the land in the county is considered prime farmland. The climate is moist and mild with temperatures that range from an average high of 94° F in July to an average low of 34° in January and an average annual rainfall of fifty inches. The growing season extends for an annual average of 240 days. Most of the county is drained by the Sabine River, but some of the western portion is drained by the Neches River. Mineral resources include lignite coal, sand, oil, and gas.
Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.