The Port of Orange became a deep-water port, open to the Gulf of Mexico and the world's oceans in 1916 when a 25-foot channel through Sabine Lake, past Sabine Pass, and out to the Gulf of Mexico was completed.
The channel was the result of the efforts of canny and able sawmill operators who knew how to get money and government help for their project. The harbor at Orange had always been attractive to shipping. Located on the Sabine River 12 miles above that watercourse's outlet to Sabine Lake, the harbor not only received barges of cotton from ports in East Texas but also timber. The timber was floated downriver from East Texas forests, made into lumber at Orange, and then shipped to Sabine Pass. There the cargoes were transshipped to New Orleans, Galveston, and other ports along the Gulf.