Happy Birthday, Baytown!
!That's right! Baytown, Texas, will be 75 years old on January 24th, 2023!
Now, for those of you who don't know - I was born in Baytown. I grew up going to Baytown schools. I came back, after graduating from Texas A &M University, to teach at James Bowie Elementary, the same school I, myself, attended from 1st grade through 5th grade.
My parents were in Baytown before it was Baytown. Both got caught up in the consolidation of the old Cedar Bayou High School, and while starting there, they finished their education at Robert E. Lee.
So, just what were the tri-cities and how did Baytown come to be?
Settlers first arrived in the Baytown area in 1822. Nathaniel Lynch, who set up a ferry at the junction of the San Jacinto River and Buffalo Bayou, was one of those earliest settlers. The ferry, still operating today, is known as the Lynchburg Ferry. Other early settlers were William Scott, one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred, and Ashbel Smith, who owned a plantation in the area.
As for the tri-cities - Baytown was originally three separate towns. Goose Creek was named for the bayou upon which Canadian geese used to winter (and who were partially responsible for nearby Robert E. Lee High School's mascot). Goose Creek dates back to before 1850.
The rival communities of Pelly, developed in the late 1910s, and East Baytown, in the early 1920s, thrived as boomtowns due to the discovery of oil in Goose Creek Oil Field. The East in East Baytown was later dropped because the area was actually west of Goose Creek.
Shortly after World War I, talk began of merging the tri-cities, but Baytown was opposed to the idea. It was not until 1947 that the three cities came to an agreement. Baytown was decided upon, by the citizens, as the name for the combined city. The school district would retain the name of Goose Creek.
The date of the city's official founding was January 24, 1948.
Today the Baytown economy centers around the oil, gas, and petrochemical industry. The 2020 US census reports a population of just over 83,000. The Baytown Nature Center and Pirate's Bay, along with other historical venues in the area, bring in a moderate amount of tourism. Goose Creek CISD educates just under 24,000 students in 16 elementary schools, 5 junior high schools, 4 high schools, a career center, and two alternative centers.
The Baytown Historical Preservation Center will be celebrating Baytown's birthday and rich history on January 24th! All are invited to attend!