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LA PORTE, TEXAS

Harris County, Texas Gulf Coast

“On the NW shore of Trinity Bay, the inland extension of Galveston Bay”
Hwy 146
22 Miles SE of Houston
About 30 Miles NW of Galveston
Population: 34,421 (2010) 31,880 (2000)

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La Porte Texas seaside

Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, October 2007

History in a Sea Shell

La Porte is French for “The Door.” The name was chosen by a real estate consortium in 1892 in hopes of luring investors and land buyers. The La Porte, Houston and Northern Railroad Company was chartered in late 1892 and La Porte became the railroad’s headquarters. The proximity to both Galveston and Houston was a draw, but the railroad only managed to lay 12 miles of track before being absorbed by a larger company. After several sales, it became Galveston, Houston and Northern Railway Company (1899). Under the direction of the Southern Pacific system.

In 1900 the town could boast over 500 residents.

That same year St. Mary's Seminary opened and remained there for over five decades. The downtown section of La Porte was totally destroyed by a fire around 1915 and shortly thereafter it was struck by a hurricane.

La Porte had its 15 minutes of fame bestowed upon it in the 20s and 30s when it held dances and bathing beauty contests at Sylvan Beach. Performers included singers Phil Harris and Rudy Vallee and bandleader / clarinetist Benny Goodman.

In fact La Porte’s entire economy was driven by the entertainers and the audiences they drew. Later, refineries and shipyards along the bay provided jobs for the year-round residents.

The population reached over 7,000 residents by 1949 and La Porte was now large enough to start absorbing its neighbors. In 1980 the neighbor was the tiny town of Lomax.

Residents of La Porte still regarded their town as a resort even as the population grew to nearly 28,000 people. Several hurricanes have struck Sylvan Beach over the years. The population reached 34,421 for the 2010 census.

La Porte Chrinicles:

And the bands played on at Sylvan by Wanda Orton

"Baytown's neighbor across the Houston Ship Channel -- Sylvan Beach at La Porte -- offered so much fun that it earned the title of "Coney Island of Texas....."
La Porte Texas bicyclists

Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, October 2007

La Porte Texas sailboats & ships

Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, October 2007

La Porte Texas cargo ship

Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, October 2007

La Porte Texas seaside park

Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, October 2007

La Porte, Texas Forum:

Subject: La Porte, TX
I really appreciate your website, it's very interesting and fun to read. One small correction about your La Porte, TX section is that the Washburn Tunnel connects Pasadena with the East End of Houston (near Channelview) via Federal Rd. The Baytown Tunnel (I don't think it was ever named after anyone or anything) connected Baytown with La Porte via 225/146 (where the Fred Hartman Bridge is located now). I lived in La Porte for about 10 years and my Dad grew up there. If you get a chance, drive down Main St. in La Porte to see a lot of the great old buildings in town. The old theater is a church now that my Dad used to go to when he was a kid in the late '50s. El Ranchero restaurant is some of the best Tex-Mex you can have on the Gulf Coast. Thanks, Tim Holmes, Jr., Houston, Texas, July 17, 2008

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TX Harria County  1907 Postal Map
Harris County 1907 Postal Map showing La Porte (SE of Houston)
Courtesy Texas General Land Office

La Porte, Texas
Area Destinations:

Houston
Galveston
See Harris County
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