National Geographic : 1967 Sep
Strength in silhouette: Shipyard worker in Houston's port pounds fittings into a half-section of a saddle destined to cradle a chemi cal tank on an ocean-going barge. Lean and sinewy, Texas long horns once numbered in the mil lions-a favored breed because they could live longer on less feed than any other. Now ranchers prefer An gus, Hereford, and Brahman. KODACHROMES BYJAMESP. BLAIR(ABOVE)ANDWILLIAMALBERTALLARD© N.G.S. 80 miles east of the city. Other gushers fol lowed quickly, and soon the wildest oil boom in history was under way. Hundreds of com panies were formed, among them the Gulf Oil Corporation and the Texas Company, destined to become leaders in the petroleum industry.* After immensely productive Spindletop came other prolific oil fields along the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana, including one within Houston's present city limits. The U. S. petroleum industry, which had started with Edwin L. Drake's well near Titusville, Penn sylvania, in 1859, was suddenly a giant. Inland City Brings the Sea to Its Door Houston men were in the thick of these stirring events. Soon they, with others, saw the need of a deepwater port. The logical an swer was Galveston, with its superb natural harbor. But the island city had not fully recovered from the disastrous hurricane and flood of 1900, and besides, Galveston was geared then, as today, for handling dry cargo rather than oil. 368 Thus was born a project as bold as the soldier-statesman for whom Galveston's ambitious neighbor city was named. A wind ing mile or two at a time, Buffalo Bayou was dredged to give access to the Gulf of Mexico, 50 miles away, and bring the sea to Houston. The job was completed more than half a century ago, and ever since then ships of all nations have sailed into the Houston Ship Channel, to discharge and receive cargo of every description. Galveston remains a busy port, handling about four million tons of cargo annually, compared to Houston's 60 million. Today the inland port serves 135 general cargo and 90 tanker lines. More than three billion dollars' worth of industry crowds the ship channel's banks. The Intracoastal Water way carries barge traffic between Houston and the Mississippi, and thus links it with river cities as far east as Pittsburgh. To get a close look at the port, I boarded the city's sightseeing vessel Sam Houston, with Capt. Roy Faulkner in command. Also *See "The Fabulous State of Texas," by Stanley Walk er, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, February, 1961.