TE photo, 2003
History in a
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?
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 immigrants left.
discovery 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.
1970 the population had leaped to over 16,000 and has stabilized at just over
that figure for the 2000 census.
TE photo, 2003