Orange County is in the Central Prairie region of southeastern Texas. The Sabine River on the east forms a natural border between it and the state of Louisiana, and the Neches River forms its south and west boundary. The county seat, Orange, is at 30°05' north latitude and 93°44' west longitude, twenty-four miles east of Beaumont and 288 miles southeast of Dallas. Orange County comprises 362 square miles of two ecological zones; the Gulf prairies and marshes in the southeastern half of the county and the Piney Woods in northwest half of county. The terrain is generally level and low, with elevations ranging from sea level to thirty feet, and is surfaced by loam over clayey subsoils. Both the Sabine and Neches rivers drain to Sabine Lake, which feeds into the Gulf of Mexico through the Sabine Pass. Sabine Lake, the largest lake in the region, is thirty miles long and twenty miles wide. There are seven additional streams in the county. The coastal region has many fish eating and migratory birds, including the white pelican, the heron, the egret, the heron, the wood stork, the white ibis, and sandhill crane. Shorebirds include gulls and terns, upland plover, sandpiper, dowitcher, snipe, and woodcock. Inland a variety of birds include the pheasant, quail, turkey, sandhill crane, duck, geese, woodcock, and jacksnipe. Larger game in the area include squirrel, opossum, muskrat, beaver, otter, mink, ring-tailed cat, badger, raccoon, skunk, civet cat, nutria, coyote, fox, deer, and bobcat. Reptiles and amphibians include toads and frogs, American alligator, turtles, diamond-backed terrapin, black-striped snake, speckled racer, Texas cat-eyed snake, Louisiana Pine snake, and the smooth green snake. The Piney Woods are characterized by pine and hardwood forests. Grassland areas as well as crops are found in concentrations. The Gulf prairies and marshes have similar grassland and crop areas concentrations, but the forests of bald cypress and water tupelo swamplands contrast markedly. The climate in Orange County is subtropical humid with the highest annual rainfall in the state. The annual precipitation average is fifty-six inches, and the average humidity is 89 percent at 6:00 A.M. and 69 percent at 6:00 P.M. The annual average temperature is 68° F, with average temperatures ranging in January from a low of 42° F to a high of 61° F and in July from 74° F to 91° F. The growing season averages 240 days per year, with the last freeze in mid March and the first freeze in early November. The area's plentiful supply of lumber encouraged the growth of early industries involved with ship building, paper manufacture, and wooden products. More recently, oil and gas production and refining have become the major source of economic growth and development. Salt domes, sand, and gravel are other natural resources of economic importance to the region.
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.
Alan S. Mason | © Texas State Historical Association
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