Highlands, also known as Elena, is on the Missouri Pacific line north of State Highway 73 and west of Farm Road 2100 in the industrialized area of eastern Harris County. The community of roughly nine square miles was named Highlands because when it was founded, the east bank of the San Jacinto River, where it is located, was higher than the west. The town became a station on the Beaumont, Sour Lake and Western Railway by 1908, and a post office opened there in 1929. Highlands incorporated in 1930, but its charter was subsequently voided, and efforts to incorporate in 1956 were defeated. During the 1930s its population fell from 350 to 200, and its businesses numbered only twenty. The 1936 county highway map showed two schools, two churches, a sawmill, and a factory at the townsite. During World War II the community housed military and war-plant personnel, and by 1948 the town had a population of 3,000 and seventy-five businesses. During the 1950s its population fell to 2,723, and local business declined. An industrial chemical company and a canning sales company operated at Highlands in the 1960s. The town had a population of 4,336 in the early 1960s, when it also reported eighty-two businesses. W. O. Hutson built the Double Trouble Youth Rodeo Arena there in 1965. The community's population declined in the early 1970s to some 3,462 residents, with sixty-six businesses, but rose by 1977 to 5,000, where it continued to be reported until 1989. In 1990 its population was estimated at 6,632, and in 2000 it was 7,089.
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