TAYLOR BAYOU (JEFFERSON COUNTY)
TAYLOR BAYOU (Jefferson County). Taylor Bayou rises sixteen miles west of Port Arthur in central Jefferson County (at 29°51' N, 94°11' W) and flows east for eighteen miles to its mouth on the Port Arthur Canal at Port Arthur (at 29°50' N, 93°58' W). Taylor Bayou is formed by the junction of the North and South forks of Taylor Bayou. The North Fork rises eight miles northwest of Hamshire in western Jefferson County (at 29°57' N, 94°25' W). Intermittent in its upper stages, it follows a southeasterly course for seventeen miles to its mouth. The South Fork rises six miles west of Hamshire in western Jefferson County (at 29°54' N, 94°25' W). Also intermittent in its upper reaches, it follows an easterly course for seventeen miles, swinging briefly into Chambers County before reaching its junction with the North Fork.
Once known as Bayou los Flores, Taylor Bayou was renamed after James G. Taylor, an early Jefferson County settler who purchased land along the watercourse in 1841. The fertile soils along Taylor Bayou attracted much early settlement in the county; an 1858 newspaper report called it "one of the most beautiful and productive farming regions of the state." Although early farmers grew sugar cane, the bayou and its tributaries became particularly important to the rice industry of Southeast Texas when a small pumping plant was established in 1891 to irrigate surrounding rice farms. Numerous additional pumping stations have been added since that time. Although saltwater barrier dams and a diversion canal were established as early as 1914, the continued diversion of water from Taylor Bayou and the construction of deep-draft channels to Beaumont and Port Arthur have occasionally forced salt water into the bayou.
W. T. Block, ed., Emerald of the Neches: The Chronicles of Beaumont from Reconstruction to Spindletop (Nederland, Texas: Nederland Publishing, 1980). Paul C. Wilson, Jr., "History of the Salt Water Barrier on the Neches River," Texas Gulf Historical and Biographical Record 17 (1981).