Smith County is located in northeastern Texas fifty-eight miles from the eastern state boundary. It is bordered by the Neches River and Henderson and Van Zandt counties on the west, Cherokee County on the south, Rusk and Upshur counties on the east, and the Sabine River and Upshur and Wood counties on the north. Tyler, the largest town and county seat, is at the intersection of U.S. Highway 69/271 with State highways 155, 110, 31, and 64, near the center of the county (at 32°20' N, 95°15' W). Interstate Highway 20 runs east and west through the northern part of the county. The St. Louis Southwestern Railway (or Cotton Belt), constructed in the 1870s as the Tyler Tap Railroad, crosses Smith County from east to northwest. The Missouri Pacific, constructed in the late 1870s as the International & Great Northern Railroad, crosses the southeast corner of the county. Lake Tyler and Lake Tyler East are major bodies of water in the southeast part of the county, and a third major reservoir, Lake Palestine, is located on the southwestern county line. The county comprises 932 square miles of the East Texas Timberlands region. Two-thirds of this environment is covered in post oak, blackjack oak, and tall grasses, and one-third is heavily forested with pine and hardwoods. The soil varies from sandy prairie loams in the northwest and east to loam-covered clay through the remainder of the county. The elevation ranges from 300 to 600 feet above mean sea level. Mineral resources include petroleum, gas, iron ore, clay, limestone, lignite, and salt. Only 1 to 10 percent of the county is prime farm land. The climate is warm and moist; the annual rainfall averages forty-four inches, and temperatures range from an average low of 33° F in January to an average high of 95° in July. The first freeze is usually late in November and the last early in March; the growing season thus lasts 259 days.
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