Baytown Texas History:
One of Baytown’s first settlers was Nathaniel Lynch, who in 1822 set up a ferry crossing at the junction of the San Jacinto River and the Buffalo Bayou. The ferry still operates, ferrying vehicles between Baytown and the San Jacinto State Historic Site and Battleship Texas. In 1824 William Scott, one of Stephen F. Austin’s Old Three Hundred settlers, received a 9,000 acre land grant that covered most of present day Baytown; he called his settlement Bay Town. In 1847 Ashbel Smith arrived and purchased a plantation named Evergreen on Tabbs Bay. Other early settlers who lived in the area for a time include Mrs. Anson Jones, David Burnet, and Sam Houston. In the early 1850s, John and Thomas S. Chubb established a shipyard at the mouth of Goose Creek. The only ship they built was the Bagdad which was launched in 1864, and had to run a Yankee blockade at Galveston to escape. The Baytown area remained largely undeveloped and isolated into the 20th
century; access was via boat or a rough road running between Crosby and Cedar Bayou. In 1908 oil was found at Tabbs Bay. In 1916 the Goose Creek oilfield became famous as the first offshore drilling operation in Texas (2nd
in the nation); it was the third largest producing field after the Humble and Sour Lake Fields. The towns of Pelly and Goose Creek developed near the oilfield in 1917-1918. In 1917 Ross S. Sterling and his associates built a refinery near the Goose Creek field, founding Humble Oil (now Exxon). They purchased 2,200 acres in the William Scott survey near the oilfield and called their town Baytown. Construction on Baytown began in the fall of 1919. The town remained a collection of army tents, barracks and small shacks until Humble platted and built the streets in 1923. Humble provided utilities, sold lots, furnished housing and a large community recreation building for its supervisors and skilled employees, and provided financing for its employees’ homes. Because of the paternalism of Humble Oil, Baytown never incorporated, thus enabling Pelly to annex the Baytown territory in 1945. When Pelly and Goose Creek voted to consolidate in early 1947, the citizens selected the name Baytown for their new combined community. Baytown grew in population from 20,958 in 1948 to 67,117 in 1990 and in area from 7½ square miles to more than thirty-two. Exxon is still a major employer. Baytown is home of one of the nation’s largest single level shopping malls. Today Baytown is a highly industrialized city of oil refining, rubber, chemical, and carbon black plants. IH-20, SH 146, the Baytown-Lynchburg Ferry, the Fred Hartman Bridge (replaced the Baytown-La Porte Tunnel), and two railroads serve Baytown’s transportation needs. Baytown is located on the south shore of Galveston Bay between the Trinity and San Jacinto Rivers, on IH-10 and SH 146, 30 miles east of downtown Houston, 8.2 miles northeast of La Porte, 25.6 miles south of Dayton, 31 miles southwest of Anahuac, 41 miles southwest of Winnie, 8.5 miles southeast of Lynchburg and Highlands, 16 miles southeast of Crosby, 31 miles north of Texas City, and 42 miles north of Galveston, Texas.
The island was named Hog Island because Ashbel Smith ran hogs on it; John Gaillard purchased the (originally 223 Acres) island to run livestock; he paid Ashbel Smith $2,000 for it in 1905. While fishing off of Hog Island, John Gaillard discovered natural gas; at first he thought the bubbles were buffalo fish. In 1918, he sold the island to Humble Oil (now Exxon) for $300,000. From 1917 to 1920, Mrs. Hettie Perry ran a boarding house on Hog Island; she charged $1 per day. A hand operated ferry carried 40 people between the island and the mainland; the trip took 15 minutes. Hog Island was a steamboat landing in the 1800s. In 1933 the Tabbs Bay Causeway and the Morgan’s Point Ferry opened; the Texas Highway Department took over maintenance of the causeway and ferry in 1937. The ferry closed when the Baytown-La Porte tunnel opened. After the closing Hog Island became a local swimming area and lover’s lane. In 1961 Hurricane Carla destroyed the Tabbs Bay Causeway, eliminating the island’s only link to the mainland. Subsidence has caused present day Hog Island to appear to be two islands; they are visible on the east side of the Fred Hartman Bridge. The island was used as a land fill during the late 1950s.
Fred Hartman Bridge & Former Baytown Tunnel:
The Baytown Tunnel connected Baytown and La Porte via SH 225/SH 146. Completed in 1953, the tunnel traveled in a northeast to southwest direction under the Houston Ship Channel. It was closed to vehicular traffic in 1995 with the completion of the SH 146 Fred Hartman Bridge. The tunnel was demolished beginning in 1997 when the Houston Ship Channel was deepened; the last section of the tunnel was removed in September, 1999. Click on the above link for bridge photos.
Lynchburg to Baytown Ferry Service:
Nathaniel Lynch established the ferry service around 1830. Harris County has operated this free ferry service since 1888. The ferry operates on the San Jacinto River ferrying vehicles between Lynchburg and the San Jacinto State Historic Site & Battleship Texas SHS in La Porte. The 12 vehicle capacity William P. Hobby and Ross S. Sterling ferryboats were built by the Todd Shipyard in 1964. The ferry operates Mon-Fri, 4:30am-8pm; Sat-Sun, 11am-6:30pm; closed major holidays including New Year’s Day, Easter, Memorial and Labor Days, July 4th
, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Two ferries operate Mon-Fri, 3:30pm-6:30pm. The trip takes 7 to 10 minutes. Lynchburg is located south of IH-10 on an inlet extending into Burnet Bay across the water from the San Jacinto Monument. The Baytown Ferry is located at 1001 S. Lynchburg Road. The San Jacinto Ferry is located on SH 134 (Battleground Road), La Porte. (281) 424-3521. Lynchburg Map; Click to Enlarge Lynchburg Area Map