Laurel is on State Highway 87 ten miles north of Deweyville and forty miles northeast of Beaumont in southeastern Newton County. The Sabine Tram Company established a logging camp there in 1889. J. B. Smyth, the company bookkeeper, named the camp for Laura Gilmer, daughter of company director A. Gilmer, and for the surrounding laurel thickets. The company used tram lines to bring cut timber to Laurel, where it was then deposited in the Sabine River. The water carried the wood twenty-five miles downstream to sawmills in Orange. During the early 1890s the 120 to 150 employees at Laurel routinely placed over 100,000 feet of logs in the river every day. Observers estimated the town's population at from 200 to 300 during its heyday. A school and post office were also established. In 1893 logging was discontinued, and the post office moved seven miles northwest. Two years later, however, the post office was reopened at its former location, leading some area residents to refer to an "Old" and "New" Laurel. The Sabine Tram Company's logging operations were shifted to Deweyville in 1900, and the Laurel post office was discontinued after 1930. The population of Laurel was estimated at 125 in 1983 through 2000.
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.
Robert Wooster | © Texas State Historical Association
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