The Port of Port Arthur lies on the shores of Sabine Lake about 145 kilometers east of Houston, Texas. The Port of Port Arthur is an important deep-water harbor 14 kilometers from the Gulf of Mexico by the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. It is also the hometown of Janis Joplin, a world-famous blues singer who was popular in the late 1960s. In 2000, the Port of Port Arthur was home to over 57 thousand people, and more than 385 thousand lived in the "Golden Triangle."
The Port of Port Arthur forms the "Golden Triangle" metropolitan area with the Port of Beaumont, about 25 kilometers to the northwest, and the Port of Orange about 18 kilometers to the northeast of the Port of Port Arthur. The Port of Port Arthur is currently recovering from decades of economic stagnation. The Port of Port Arthur is a center for oil refining in the United States, and many of the local refineries are adding capacity to their facilities.
Before the Port of Port Arthur was settled by Europeans in the 19th Century, it was home to the indigenous Atakapa peoples. Historians believe that survivors of the ill-fated expedition of Hernando de Soto came ashore near Lake Sabine in 1543. The Spanish established a fortress and mission at the mouth of the Trinity River where it flows into Lake Sabine.
Several attempts by Europeans to settle the area in the early 1800s were not successful. Padre Juan Agustin Morfi recorded attempts by the English to contact the local tribes in the area. Then in 1838, John Sparks brought his family in a covered wagon from Tennessee. By 1861, the Sparks settlement was named Aurora, but an epidemic and storm in the late 1800s forced the settler to abandon Aurora.
In 1895, Arthur Stilwell established a town to be a port and an end point for the Kansas City Southern (KCS) Railway. In 1896, the work on the first export pier began. In 1897, the railroad terminal was completed, and the first excursion train arrived.
A canal was dredged in 1899 to accommodate seaborne vessels. When the oil gusher Spindletop came in a few kilometers from the Port of Port Arthur, the port quickly became an important export point both oil and many other goods.
Soon after being established, the Port of Port Arthur was the heart of the world's largest oil refinery and a center for industries that refined oil, built ships, and manufactured chemicals. However, Stilwell had not managed the port properties well, and the Port Arthur Channel and Dock Company went into receivership in 1902 when Stilwell withdrew from Port of Port Arthur affairs. In 1906, the Port of Port Arthur became a port of entry for imports into the region.
In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Port of Port Arthur went into an economic decline due to a corrupt city administration headed by Mayor J.P. Logan. The mayor was indicted for election fraud in 1931, inspiring a Clean Government Movement that led to the establishment of a State-level committee that investigated the Port of Port Arthur's government for graft and corruption.
In 1926, a terrible gasoline explosion on an oil tanker that was anchored in the Port of Port Arthur killed 29 people and injured many others. The city rebounded, however, and in 1929, the Port of Port Arthur ranked 7th among ports in the United States.
A new middle-class of African Americans moved into the Port of Port Arthur during the 1940s, leading to a period of "white flight" of residents moving to neighboring towns. By the end of the 1950s, the town was clearly segregated, with the Black population separated in the west side of town, many in the low-income housing unit called the Carver Terrace. This situation continued into the 1970s, when Black residents were finally able to purchase homes in other parts of town. Today, the Port of Port Arthur is about 60% African American.
Home to world-famous blues and rock-and-roll singer Janis Joplin, it also produced pop artist Robert Rauschenberg and former coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Jimmy Johnson. The Port of Port Arthur has become a rising star in the hip-hop music world.