Baytown and Its Interesting History All the Way Up to Today 

As shared by the City of Baytown ...


Over 30,000 years ago the formation of the Gulf Coast began. It was during the later years of the Ice Age that the melting and flowing waters formed the Trinity and San Jacinto Rivers; which then created our modern system of lakes and bays we are familiar with in the Baytown area today. Prehistorically, these lakes and bays would have provided the opportunity for the known settlers of the area, the Kawankawa’s Capoque and the Atakapan’s Akoksia tribes, to live in fairly dense seasonal settlements while taking intensive advantage of the shoreline bay subsistence resources, which included plenty of fish and other marine life. The nearby prairie and flood plain environments would have provided the opportunity to hunt larger game including bison, Columbian mammoth and deer, and the gathering of aquatic and terrestrial plant foods.


Fast-forward thousands of years and the Baytown area and its inhabitants saw the shipwreck of the famed explorer Cabeza de Vaca. Shortly thereafter, the Baytown area saw the rule of famed pirate, Jean Lafitte, of which treasure was found as recently as the 1960’s in nearby Kemah.

The Baytown area continued its rich history into the nineteenth century as monumental events took place in and around it, namely the Texas Revolutionary War. William Scott (one of Stephen F. Austin’s Old 300), Nathaniel Lynch (involved in the Runaway Scrape), Ashbel Smith, David Burnet and Sam Houston all held property in the area just to name a few. As a reminder of these instrumental times, some Baytown residents, today, can view the San Jacinto monument from their homes, the symbol of Sam Houston’s’ victory over Mexico’s former President Lopez de Santa Anna.

As the new Republic of Texas was in its infancy, Cedar Bayou was named as one of its first bay establishments. The general economic development, post war, included rice farming, and the development of brickyards as result of the high quality clays found along the bayous, creeks and streams. Then in 1908, there was an oil boom which spurred the rapid development of the Goose Creek community among others (Wooster, Pelly, and Bay Town) that later became one community known as Baytown in January 1948.

The Goose Creak oilfield became famous as the first offshore drilling operation in Texas and second in the nation. Due to the oilfield’s success, Humble Oil and Refining Company (later to become ExxonMobil) was founded in 1917 by Ross S. Sterling. It was around this time that the Baytown community developed and grew.

Baytown Today

Today, Baytown is largely a community centered on industry, including oil, rubber and chemical plants. Home to petrochemical giants, including ExxonMobil and Chevron Philips, Baytown serves an international community through the Port of Houston and Houston Ship Channel which reach 1,053 ports worldwide.

For more information about the Economic and Social development of Baytown, TX – visit the Baytown Historical Museum or the Republic of Texas Plaza!

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