East Texas' most ethnically and racially diverse county is Jefferson County, East Texas' largest county which includes the city of Beaumont, with Unlike Texas' total state racial demographics, only two counties in East Texas have a majority minority , Jefferson County in the Golden Triangle and Titus County having a All of East Texas also lies within the Gulf Coastal Plain , but with less uniformity than the climate with rolling hills in the north and flat coastal plains in the south.
Local vegetation also varies from north to south with the lower third consisting of the temperate grassland extending from South Texas to South Louisiana. The Piney Woods are part of a much larger region of pine - hardwood forest that extends into Louisiana , Arkansas , and Oklahoma. The Piney Woods thins out as it nears the Gulf of Mexico. West of the Piney Woods are the ranchlands and remnant oak forests of the East Central Texas forests ecoregion.
The Brazos cuts through the southwest portion of the region while the Red River forms its northern border with Oklahoma and a portion of Arkansas. In East Texas and the rest of the South, small rivers and creeks collect into swamps called " Bayous " and merge with the surrounding forest. Bald cypress and Spanish moss are the dominant plants in bayous.
The most famous of these bayous are Cypress Bayou and Buffalo Bayou. They flow east into Caddo Lake and the adjoining wetlands cover the rim and islands of the lake. Culture[ edit ] East Texas is often considered the westernmost extension of the Deep South. The predominant cultural influence comes from customs and traditions passed down from European-American and African-American Southerners who settled the region during the mid and late 19th century.
African Americans were first brought to the area as enslaved workers for the plantations. These influences are noticeable in the sub-dialect of Texan English that is spoken throughout the region. According to the most recent linguistic studies, East Texans tend to pronounce Southern English with the drawl typical of the Lower South , whereas other parts of Texas are more prone to the "twang" of the Upper South, or—depending upon demographic influences of the particular area—with some Hispanic and Midwestern traits.
East Texas did not have the influence of late 19th and early 20th century European immigrants from Germany and Central Europe. Similarly, the new waves of immigrants since the late 20th century, primarily from India , other Asian nations, and Latin America , and their influences, have been less prevalent in East Texas. East Texans are predominantly Protestant Christians , expressing their faith as members of many denominations: Catholicism continues to have influence, particularly with an increased Hispanic population in recent decades.
Other religions with smaller numbers, but with adherents in East Texas, include Mormonism and Judaism. Significant numbers of people of Cajun and Creole descent have come from Louisiana , although most are assimilated partially or completely into East Texas culture adopting the local culture and losing, to varying degrees, their original culture. This assimilation pattern has often historically included conversion from Catholicism to Protestant faiths. United States settlers from the Protestant Southeast practiced some discrimination against Cajun and Creole migrants, a cultural attitude that persisted until quite recently.
Despite the tendency towards assimilation, Cajun and Creole cuisine for example, jambalaya and catfish gumbo , are popular in the region. Many East Texans, including those without Louisiana roots, are known to be expert at preparing at least some well-known Louisiana dishes.
While some East Texans associate with cowboy culture, most identify more with plantation traditions of the South than with the expansive cattle ranching of the plains regions of Texas. However, it is common for East Texans to own and trade cattle. There are several "sale barns" across East Texas with weekly and monthly trades, as is common in other parts of the lower South.
In the northern part of East Texas, awareness of the native and historical Caddo Mississippian culture remains significant.
East Texans enjoy a range of music that is influenced by gospel, bluegrass, blues, rock, country, soul, rhthym and blues, Cajun, etc.
Worldwide-acclaimed pianist Van Cliburn , a native of nearby Shreveport, Louisiana , was raised in Kilgore. Kilgore College houses the Van Cliburn Auditorium on its home campus. Many high school bands in East Texas continue the tradition of military-style marching, unlike other parts of the state.
Sports and outdoors[ edit ] As with other parts of Texas, high school football is king in East Texas. Residents of East Texas towns and rural communities fill high school stadiums in support of their local team, cheerleaders, bands, etc. Many East Texas high school teams have won Texas state championships and have produced collegiate and professional football players. Don Meredith , who famously played for the Dallas Cowboys , played at Mt.
Dez Bryant , a football product from Lufkin, is a current wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys. Adrian Peterson , a star running back for the Minnesota Vikings , played high school football in Palestine.
Other high school sports are popular in East Texas including basketball, baseball, volleyball, softball and track. A significant number of East Texas youth participate in Little League Baseball , soccer and softball. Church leagues are quite common in providing opportunities for basketball and softball for youth and adults alike. In recent years, cowboy churches have grown in number and offer rodeo events for their youth.
Homer Bryce Stadium East Texans also enjoy collegiate athletic competition. East Texas is also home to the Kilgore College Rangerettes , a world-famous dance team which debuted in A few professional sports teams are located in East Texas.
Toledo Bend Reservoir on the Louisiana and Texas border. East Texans have a long tradition in outdoors sporting and observe the opening day of deer season as a near religious holiday.
However, the region does not host professional events in either of those sports. East Texans enjoy many Texas State Parks including: According to the Deep East Texas Council of Governments the region consists of the following twelve counties: The "Deep" designation comes from the similarity to East Texas it is similar in culture and topography , being highly forested , but with a location "deeper" i.
Renegade clans controlled local governments, especially in Shelby County, well into the first quarter of the 20th century. People of English, Scottish, Scots-Irish, and to a lesser extent Welsh ancestry predominate in the region, which is in contrast to South Central Texas and West Texas in which people of German and Hispanic heritage predominate, respectively.
Prior to the Texas War of Independence , settlement was generally prohibited by the Spanish and later Mexican governments, but neither government was able to exert control or law enforcement in the area. As a consequence, the "Big Thicket" became a refuge for criminals fleeing the United States and hiding out in a "no man's land" in the pine tree thickets.
The company operates facilities including refineries and oil wells throughout the region. The early isolation of the region and its links to the Deep South have resulted in its well-known pine woods being described as a 'curtain' which demarcates a certain cultural enclave or bubble that distinguishes East Texas from the rest of the state.
Former residents describe leaving behind the 'Pine Curtain' as a form of escape. The phrase is often used to describe the area, appearing in a newspaper column in the Palestine Herald-Press , and in tourist guide by Mike Dougan. Prior to the discovery of the East Texas Oil Field, cotton, lumber and cattle were the predominant source of economic gains and stability.
Needs of local farmers contributed greatly to the establishment of local towns and trading posts. As with many parts of the nation, the chosen paths of railroads often determined the continuation of many towns.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the oil fields were discovered and oil became accessible, which changed the future trajectory of the region. In the decades leading to the new millennium, crude oil production in the East Texas Oil Field , the largest oil field in the United States, somewhat decreased. In turn, the number of high-paying jobs for uneducated workers also decreased. During the 20th century, local groceries, general stores and cafes were replaced with franchise department stores, retail chains and fast food restaurants.
Highway 59 through Houston and up past Texarkana; in process of being upgraded along most of the route to Interstate In recent years, the region has become home to many patent holding companies, due to its legal system being particularly friendly to patent holders and hostile to out of state tech defendants.