Gulf Coast
2010 Census - 53,818
2000 Census - 57,755
Port Arthur, Texas
Port Arthur Texas History:
In 1840, Almazon Huston and his promoters began advertising lots for sale at the present day townsite of Port Arthur. This project ultimately failed. Later, the John Sparks family moved to an area four miles east of present day Port Arthur; the area became known as Sparks. Just before the Civil War the Eastern Texas Railroad completed a line between Sabine Pass and Beaumont. The area of the track located 4 miles west of Sparks became the small community of Aurora. The tracks were removed during the Civil War. In 1886 a destructive hurricane caused many of the remaining Aurora residents to move to Beaumont. The town was founded in a894 by Arthur E. Stilwell, a Kansas railroad promoter who in 1894 launched the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf Railroad with the intent of linking Kansas City to the Gulf of Mexico. He originally intended to build the line to Sabine Pass, but was unable to reach an agreement to buy a railroad right-of-way from the Kountze brothers who owned most of the choice tracts of land in the Sabine Pass area. In 1895, Stilwell and his partners purchased land at the former Aurora townsite on the western shore of Sabine Lake, platted the townsite, and built the railroad terminus there. Stilwell envisioned the town as a future port and tourist attraction. The next year the company began dredging a canal from the western edge of the lake to the deep water at Sabine Pass. By 1899 the canal was completed and Port Arthur became a port. Port Arthur incorporated in 1898 when it had over 860 residents. By 1906, Port Arthur was a major port of entry. The deepening and extension of the canal up the Neches River to Beaumont and Orange was completed in 1908. The extension of the canal and one negative impact on Port Arthur; it cut the town off from Sabine Lake, diminishing the city’s prospects of becoming a tourist resort. By 1904 Stilwell’s role as financial backer of the town had diminished and was taken over by John W. Gates, a noted Wall Streeter. Gate’s legacy included the establishment of Port Arthur College which became a branch of Lamar University in 1975. In 1918 Mrs. Gates established and funded the Gates Memorial Library as a memorial to her husband, and her son. The eruption of Spindletop on January, 10, 1901 secured Port Arthur’s future. The Spindletop oilfield boom brought in Gulf Oil, Magnolia Oil (later Mobile), Humble Oil (later Exxon), and the Texas Company (later Texaco). Janis Joplin was born is Port Arthur; her memorabilia is on display at the Museum of the Gulf Coast. Port Arthur owns the 18.5 mile long Pleasure Island, a recreation area connected to Port Arthur by the SH 87  MLK Bridge. In 1978, Port Arthur annexed the town of Sabine Pass located 13.3 miles southeast of Port Arthur. Orange, Port Arthur and Beaumont are referred to as the “Golden Triangle.” Port Arthur is connected to Bridge City via the Neches River’s Rainbow Bridge (formerly Port Arthur-Orange County Bridge) and Veterans Memorial Bridge; the bridges are located five miles east of town. Port Arthur is located on the lower west bank of Sabine Lake at the intersections of U.S. 96, U.S. 287, U.S. 96, SH 82 and SH 87, 9.2 miles southeast of Nederland, 6.9 miles southwest of Groves, 10.3 miles south of Port Neches, 11.4 miles southwest of Bridge City, 20 miles southwest of Orange, 29.4 miles northeast of Winnie, 49 miles northeast of Anahuac, and 22 miles southeast of Beaumont, Texas.  
Port of Port Arthur:
The Port of Port Arthur is located 19 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. It is serviced by the Kansas City Southern Railroad. The Port’s guard will arrange for a guide to take visitors into the dock area which features “Big Arthur,” a 75 ton gantry crane. The port is located at 100 Lakeshore Drive, 77640. Email  
Port Arthur International Seafarer's Center:
The Center is located in a replica of the old Kansas City Southern Railroad Depot that served Port Arthur for over 70 years. The center offers a refuge for all sailors coming into port. Amenities include books, a computer dock, a lounge, a snack area, restrooms and other comforts. Drivers take the sailors shopping, to the movies, or wherever they need to go. A Texas Historical Marker commemorates the KCS depot.401 Houston Avenue, 77640.
Golden Triangle Veterans Memorial Park:
The 50 foot tower lists the names of 950 Golden Triangle Area veterans killed in action. The listings include the name, rank, branch of service, and the war served in. Other displays represent the various branches of the military and include a F4-D phantom jet, M60A3 tank, UH-1Huey helicopter, an anchor from the Texaco SS Mississippi, an assault landing craft, and a 7 foot statue of a U.S. Marine. The memorial is located at the south end of the SH 87 Veterans Memorial Bridge.
Port Arthur Seawall & Boardwalk:
The seawall and boardwalk are located on Lakeshore drive between Woodworth Boulevard and Dallas Avenue. (409) 983-8181.
Rainbow Bridge (formerly Port Arthur-Orange County Bridge), 1938 & Veterans Memorial Bridge:
The SH 87 Rainbow Bridge was dedicated as the Port Arthur-Orange (County) Bridge; it replaced the unreliable Dryden Ferry as the connection between Port Arthur and Bridge City. The Rainbow Bridge name is the result of a 1957 contest held to rename the bridge. The bridge has a vertical clearance of slightly over 176 feet. This clearance was chosen to allow passage of the USS Patoka, the tallest ship afloat at the time, though the ship never traveled up the Neches River. At the time the bridge was built it was the most elevated highway bridge over tidal waters in the world. The bridge was built to withstand a 130 mile an hour hurricane wind and a wind pressure of 75 pounds per square foot. The Veterans Memorial Bridge is located adjacent to the Rainbow Bridge; it was completed in 1991; it has a vertical clearance of 143 feet. After extensive renovations to bring it up to federal standards, the Rainbow Bridge became the southbound traffic bridge, and the new Veterans Memorial Bridge became the northbound bridge.
Martin Luther King SH 82 Bridge to Pleasure Island & SH 82 Louisiana Causeway Swing Bridge:
This MLK Bridge was formerly called Gulfgate Bridge. This bridge spans the Sabine-Neches Ship Canal, connecting Port Arthur with Pleasure Island. Once in Pleasure Island, turn left at the stop sign; drive approximately 8 miles to the swing Causeway Bridge that takes you to Louisiana; this bridge is being replaced in 2012. The MLK Bridge’s vertical clearance is 134 feet.