TE photo, 2003
a Pecan Shell
Railroad magnate Arthur E. Stilwell brought the railroad to Port
Arthur in the 1890s. It was Stilwell’s pet project and it was
partially funded by Dutch investors. His plan was to entice Dutch
immigrants to Texas and what better
way than to name the place after the homeland?
The first Dutch settler arrived in 1897 and as others arrived, they
set their hands to dairy farming and vegetable growing. Many started
growing rice – an unlikely crop for Dutchmen but one that was gaining
in popularity, having been introduced just a few years earlier.
But rice proved too successful and an economic slump and overspeculation
all but destroyed the industry at Nederland. Many disillusioned
of oil at Spindletop
gave Nederland another chance at prosperity. Two oil terminals were
set up close to the city limits. In 1913 the community was connected
to Beaumont and Port
Arthur by Interurban service.
Telephone and electrical service soon followed. The building of
oil infrastructure continued with refineries literally being built
“left and right.” The demand for workers brought legions of Louisianans
to the area.
In the 1930s Nederland acquired it’s first weekly newspaper. Oil
kept the community prosperous through the Great Depression and by
1940 the population was nearing 4,000 residents.
By 1970 the population had leaped to over 16,000 and has stabilized
at just over that figure for the 2000 census.
TE photo, 2003
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