For “Travel Tuesday”: Let’s visit Port Arthur.
After the amount of rain we have had around here, the question is:
What city in Texas has the most rain?
Port Arthur is the city in Texas with the most annual rain, 59.89 inches.
Port Arthur is located 90 miles east of Houston on the gulf coast of Texas, so it is in the Texas Gulf Coast region.
“Home to some of the best beaches in America, the Texas Gulf Coast region draws millions of visitors to this Texas playground. Stretching some 350 miles from South Padre Island & the Rio Grande Valley, all the way to Beaumont & the Louisiana border, this region is renowned for its wildlife & natural beauty, as well as the home of America's space program. Discover the Beaches of the Texas Gulf Coast Region.”
Port Arthur, Texas
“Located on the Gulf Coast, Port Arthur is a culture-rich city that is the gateway from Louisiana Cajun country to all the points of Southeast Texas.
The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway runs past the city, separated from Sabine Lake by Pleasure Island.
Few other places in the state can offer the combination of such incredible fishing, historical explorations, beach fun, bird watching, art, savory cuisine, as well as faith and nature experiences. Let’s not forget the annual, family-friendly Mardi Gras! Laissez Bon Temps Roulez!
Mardi Gras is the biggest annual festival event in Port Arthur, and for good reason! Held the weekend prior to Ash Wednesday, Mardi Gras brings over 100,000 people a year to listen to the live music, eat, drink, and catch glittering beads while viewing the spectacular parades. It’s also family friendly, so not only is it fun for the older crowd, but it is also safe for the kids!
Southeast Texas has more than a dozen lakes for the fisherman, swimmer, or outdoor enthusiast. Three major river systems traverse Southeast Texas. Sabine Lake and its surrounding coastal fishing area maintains one of the most productive marine ecosystems in Texas. In all, it make us a wonderland of opportunities for the casual tourist or avid sports enthusiast.
The Museum of the Gulf CoastThe Museum of the Gulf Coast combines both conventional and unconventional approaches to tell the extraordinary history of this Gulf Coast region.
The first floor tells the story of Gulf Coast life before humans, to the present. Other Museum exhibits feature performers like Janis Joplin, George Jones and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. Sports enthusiasts can see displays that chronicles the lives of “Babe” Zaharias, and coach Jimmy Johnson…Just to name a few!
Pompeiian Villa was built by Isaac Ellwood, “the barbed wire king.” Part of the home’s colorful past is at one point the home was traded to George Craig, banker and land developer, for 10 percent of stock in the newly formed Texas Company, a forerunner of Texaco. The stock at the time was worth a few thousand dollars, today $200+ Million!
McFaddin Beach is located at the Southern end of Port Arthur. It’s considered to be one of the few, easily-accessible, nature-beaches available in Texas. There are no neon signs, or beach houses crowding your view. Our beaches are undisturbed, and ready for your enjoyment.
The Cajun influence is perhaps the strongest influence in the community. Port Arthur borders Louisiana not only geographically but culturally as well. This influence is evident in the food of the area. Come to Port Arthur and feast on Crawfish, fajitas, barbecue or catfish.
The Faith Trail is a beautiful exploration of how the array of cultures in Port Arthur have brought form and function to us, in a spiritual way. The Queen of Peace shrine, Buu Mon Temple’s Lotus Gardens, Shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Anthony’s Cathedral Basilica (in nearby Beaumont) are a fest for the eyes, and hearts.
Port Arthur, located on the Upper Texas Gulf Coast is often referred to as a “birdwatchers delight”. The nature lover can thrill to the spillover of the old South in the moss-laden trees that are interlaced with tropical palms. The mysterious swamps, marshes and bayous give sanctuary to wildlife and hundreds of species of birds.
Perhaps the most important attributes the city has to offer are the warmth and Southern hospitality of a small community combined with many exciting things to see and do. Come taste our Cajun flavor, lose yourself in our dramatic history, and absorb all the natural beauty that our city has to offer.”
Soaring bridges spanning scenic waterways lead to outdoor adventure filled with birding, fishing and wildlife. Port Arthur unites land and sea in Southeast Texas.
Port Arthur offers wetlands and Gulf beaches, salt and fresh water fishing and a comfortable year-round climate that is perfect to enjoy Sea Rim State Park, a completely natural beach. Experience our strong Cajun and other cultural influences through cuisine and music.
Catch the excitement at Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas, Zachary Breaux Jazz Festival and the Buu Mon Lotus and Bamboo Festival.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine and Queen of Peace Shrine & Gardens highlight our faith trail.”
Port Arthur History
“Before There Was Port Arthur
The shores of Sabine Lake have been occupied more than 1,500 years; American Indians, primarily the Atakapas, were the earliest known settlers. The late 1700s brought the first visits from Europeans — English, Spanish and French. Most were explorers who did not stay, but in the 1800s the lake became an avenue for trade. Among the traders was Jean Laffite, and legends of hidden treasure have lingered in Southeast Texas.
The earliest attempt at permanently settling the area was the community of Aurora, located in what is now historic Port Arthur. Some lots were sold around 1840, but the project failed to take off. The area was abandoned by the time Port Arthur was established.
Port Arthur’s Founding and Early Years
The inspiration for Port Arthur’s founding was novel; railroad pioneer Arthur E. Stilwell, who established the town, later wrote that the ideas for his railways and the location of his namesake city came from “brownies” who spoke to him.
Stilwell began settling the city in 1895 with financial assistance from Dutch investors. The founder of what is now Kansas City Southern Railroad envisioned Port Arthur as the southern terminus for his new railway, a center for trade and tourism. The city dates its official beginnings to its incorporation in 1898.
By that time Stilwell had established the Port Arthur Channel and Dock Co., which began cutting a canal along the western edge of the lake to deep water at Sabine Pass. The port was opened for seagoing shipping with the arrival of the British steamer Saint Oswald in August 1899.
Pioneers arrived by the hundreds and began building homes and opening businesses. Stilwell’s contributions included the Sabine Hotel on Lakeshore Drive, a natatorium to serve all the residents and an Export Pier into Lake Sabine. He also brought 300 Dutch colonists to begin a new life as farmers in this rich coastal prairie. Though many of the Dutch names have been lost to Port Arthur, their cultural contributions are still found in nearby Nederland.
John Gates Takes an Interest
In 1899 Stilwell invited his friend, John W. Gates, to visit Port Arthur. Gates quickly decided that he, too, wanted to have an interest in the development of this new and promising town. Upon being denied a position on the board of the railroad, he promptly, by questionable means, had Stilwell’s interests declared bankrupt and Gates made himself president of Kansas City Southern.
With this inauspicious beginning, Gates became the moving force in the development of Port Arthur. Aided by the effects of the Spindletop Gusher in 1901, he built the Mary Gates Hospital in 1909 and founded the Port Arthur Business College (now Lamar-Port Arthur) the same year. Gates built a magnificent home on Lakeshore Drive at a cost of $50,000.
The Oil Boom
The eruption of the Lucas Gusher at Spindletop in 1901 changed the fate of Port Arthur. The port quickly began to serve the needs of the new petrochemical industry, and companies such as Gulf Oil Corp. in 1901 and Texaco in 1902 set up refining facilities in the city. By 1957 Port Arthur was known as the center of the world’s prosperous oil refining facilities.
A Patchwork of Communities
What is now called Port Arthur encompasses what were originally a number of different communities established at different times for various purposes. Among those that have been incorporated by the city over the years are Griffing Park, Pear Ridge and Lakeview. The names remain in common use. Two others, Sabine Pass and Port Acres, are still often regarded as self-contained communities, and Sabine Pass in fact has its own school district, water district, port authority and zip code.
Port Arthur’s nearest neighbors in Jefferson County are Nederland, Port Neches and Groves, all of which have rich histories of their own.
A number of Port Arthurans have left their impact on the country in the arts, sports, politics and business. Easily the best-recognized internationally is rock legend Janis Joplin, but other names of note include artist Robert Rauschhenberg, Texas Gov. Allen Shivers, Olympic athlete Babe Zaharias, football coach Jimmy Johnson, football player Joe Washington, Jr., “Gone With the Wind” actress Evelyn Keyes and businessman Mack H. Hannah, Jr. These and many others are honored in the Museum of the Gulf Coast.”
More History of Port Arthur, Texas
“Port Arthur is the namesake of Arthur E. Stilwell who platted the 1895. He envisioned Port Arthur as a resort, as a port City and as the terminus of the railroad he would eventually build linking Port Arthur to Kansas City.
John W. "Bet-A-Million" Gates, gained control of the Stilwell interest and built a rice mill in Port Arthur in 1900. He spent $1.4 million to dredge the Port Arthur ship canal then ceded it to the federal government for one dollar.
Today Port Arthur is the home of three major refineries and still the important terminus of the Kansas City Southern railroad. The town of a mere one thousand souls in 1900, has grown to almost 60,000 with a diversifying economy to sustain Port Arthur's growth into the twenty-first century.”
“The Port Arthur area offers birders beautiful coastal scenery as well as some of the most exciting bird watching anywhere. Birders can find a stunning variety of habitats as well as species. You just can’t imagine how close you can get to the natural habitat of birds and animals that live and migrate along the upper Texas Coast. Our area is unique for exotic birds and other wildlife. The possibilities include eagles and pink spoonbills. Alligators are a common sight.” DOWNLOAD the Birding Hotspots of Southeast Texas Book (PDF)
“Port Arthur's Pleasure Island, an 18.5 mile long man-made body of land, extends from the mouth of the Neches River on the northwest to the Sabine Causeway on the southeast and is surrounded by Sabine Lake and the Sabine Neches Intracoastal Waterway.
Pleasure Island is a place of beauty. Its hills, bluffs, and vistas of Sabine Lake are a delight and pleasure to those who visit. Pleasure Island is where the fun begins!
The U. S. Corps of Engineers created Pleasure Island from deposits dredged while constructing the Port Arthur Canal, completed in 1899, and the Sabine Neches Intracoastal Waterway, completed in 1908.
In 1913 a dance hall and roller coaster were constructed. In 1941 a private investor built the Pleasure Pier Ballroom, a midway, an Olympic-size swimming pool, and the largest roller coaster in the south. A fine 18-hole golf course was enjoyed for years.
Pleasure Island was Port Arthur's playground for decades until the Pleasure Pier bridge, which opened in 1931 and was frequently hit by ships, was taken out of service in 1967, making it difficult to reach the island. Storms, fires, and erosion eventually destroyed all of the old facilities.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge and the Sabine Causeway now connect Pleasure Island to Port Arthur and Louisiana. Residents and tourists alike are enjoying the development of Pleasure Island. It is the natural place to be for outdoor activity.”
From me: Sorry for the long posts, I start looking at these places and I find more to write about them, and get carried away.
Oh This Day:
Lyndon Baines Johnson dies in Texas, Jan 22, 1973:
“On this day in 1973, former President Lyndon Baines Johnson dies in Johnson City, Texas, at the age of 64.
After leaving the White House in 1968, L.B.J. returned to his beloved home state, Texas, with his wife, Ladybird, and immersed himself in the activity dearest to him: ranching. Although ostensibly retired, L.B.J. kept up a busy daily schedule reminiscent of his days in the White House. His biographer, Doris Kearns, observed Johnson going about ranching duties with the same intensity he had once displayed at work in the Oval Office. At morning meetings on the ranch, Johnson instructed each hand to make a solemn pledge that you will not go to bed tonight until you are sure that every steer has everything he needs. We've got a chance of producing some of the finest beef in this country if we work at it.and if we treat those hens with loving care we should be able to produce the finest eggs in the country. Each night he found not presidential briefings on his bedside table, but reports he had ordered on the ranch's daily production of eggs. To Kearns, Johnson's obsession with his hens' inability to produce as many eggs as he expected contained a hint of the frustration he had once experienced in trying to win an apparently un-winnable war in Vietnam.
Beneath the bustle, Johnson remained, in his own words, miserable. For a man who had wanted to carve out a legacy as the creator of a Great Society in America, his disappointment that his part in escalating the Vietnam War overshadowed his other accomplishments was immense. Johnson's record included successful social and economic reforms such as the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, improvements in housing and urban development and strong support for America's space program, but these seemed to be forgotten as public criticism of the war dogged L.B.J. into retirement and even beyond the grave.
On the day of Nixon's second inaugural celebration, Johnson watched sullenly as Nixon announced the dismantling of many of Johnson's Great Society social programs and, the next day, that he had achieved the ceasefire in Vietnam that had eluded Johnson. Johnson had reportedly predicted that [when the Great Society] dies, I, too, will die. The following day, while Ladybird and their daughters were in Austin, Johnson suffered a fatal heart attack at his ranch in Johnson City.
“As the nation's first African American president was sworn in for the second time in Washington, D.C. hundreds marched in Norfolk to remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”
One link leads to another! While researching one thing, I find more interesting links to explore. So apart from doing the daily chores, caring for an ever-hungry Miss Priss, and taking Misty for our walk in the sunshine, I just messed about on the computer for some of the day.