History buffs and visitors will find a variety of unique museums, historical monuments, and national landmarks in Houston’s surrounding areas. Learn about the oil boom of the 1900s, the Battle of San Jacinto, maritime commerce, and much more at these local historical sites.
From the Runaway Scrape to the early 1900s oil boom, Baytown is steeped in history. Head over to the Baytown Historical Museum located near historic Texas Avenue or travel back in time by visiting the historic 1894 one-room Wooster Schoolhouse and the 1910 Brown-McKay House located at the Republic of Texas Plaza Park. Experience rural life in a rice farming community that existed before the discovery of oil in Baytown.
Be sure to rest your feet and fill your stomach for breakfast or lunch Monday-Saturday at the Baytown Historic Café, where the décor boasts incredible photos and descriptions of Baytown’s past. Finally, float across the same bays that were traversed by the Republic of Texas troops just before the Battle of San Jacinto by taking a ride on Baytown’s historic Lynchburg Ferry, which has been running continuously since 1888. Want to take a unique tour through Baytown’s history and earn prizes while you do it? Six of Baytown’s 18 historical markers are located on the Baytown GeoTour (GT7A) and allow visitors to learn history while completing a scavenger hunt.
With a rich history, Beaumont, Texas has an energy all its own.
It would hardly be an exaggeration to call Beaumont the birthplace of the oil industry. After all, it was here, on the morning of January 10, 1901, that the industry was born when the Lucas Gusher began as a bubbling puddle of mud on Spindletop Hill before shooting up as a geyser of oil 100 feet high in the air. Overnight, the region transformed into a boomtown fed by energy.
Relive this remarkable event at the Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum. The museum features a working replica gusher and recreates the wildcatter days of Gladys City, the town that sprung up seemingly overnight on land leased from the Gladys City Oil Company to service the huge—and sudden—influx of oil field workers and their families moving to the area. Read more about Spindletop's history in Beaumont here.
Exhibits at the Texas Energy Museum recount how the discovery supported the fledgling automobile industry and allowed ships and trains to switch their fuel sources from coal to fuel oil.
Janis Joplin fans will want to pay a visit to The Museum of the Gulf Coast, where a replica of the singer’s psychedelic Porsche and original paintings are on display. Pick up a brochure that outlines places the Port Arthur native frequented during her time in the city, including her childhood home. Beyond Janis, the museum also features exhibits of local personalities such as the Big Bopper, Coach Jimmy Johnson and famed artist Robert Rauschenberg along with coastal historic archives.
The City of Deer Park is home to regional, state and national history, with proximity to the San Jacinto Monument. After you tour both that historic site, complete your visit by checking out historical cabinets, located at the Deer Park Public Library, the Community Center, the Municipal Court and Theater Building and the Visitors Center. These cabinets include photos and memorabilia from throughout the City’s history, and are sure to delight any history enthusiast.
Share the adventure of the high seas at the Texas Seaport Museum, home of the celebrated 1877 tall ship ELISSA. Explore the decks of this floating National Historic Landmark which has also been designated one of America’s Treasures by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Walk ELISSA’s deck and imagine the days when daring sailors challenged the world’s oceans. In the adjacent museum and theatre, witness the story of ELISSA’s dramatic rescue from the scrap yard and her meticulous restoration.
Located in the historic port of Galveston, the Texas Seaport Museum also tells the story of a rich legacy of seaborne commerce and immigration. Look for ancestors with a one-of-a kind computer database containing the names of more than 133,000 immigrants who entered the United States through Galveston – the Ellis Island of the West. History buffs can read more here.
Are you a fan of things that go choo-choo? Are you a history enthusiast? Then a visit to the Tomball Railroad Depot is a must. The depot, the future home of the Texas Railroading Heritage Museum, has been an epicenter of life in Tomball since the early 1900s. Explore the town’s history when you visit the depot, which contains train memorabilia, original art works, antiques, and a model railroad. Tours are available weekends from noon to 5 p.m.
Speaking of choo-choo, step back in time and visit the Alvin Historical Museum to learn about Alvin's history through its exhibits with features and memorabilia ranging from the prehistoric era to the formation of Texas and Alvin. Afterwards, visitors can stop by the Alvin Historical Train Depot and walk through one of the original steps for passengers awaiting the Santa Fe Rail Line.
Founded in 1835, Huntsville remains a popular destination for visitors looking to celebrate the past. Start the trip off with a visit to the Sam Houston Statue—the most photographed statue in the state and the world's tallest statue of an American hero. A tribute to courage, the Sam Houston Statue was designed and constructed by artist David Adickes. Incidentally, it’s also a great place to pick up maps, tour information and brochures, since it’s home to the city’s visitors center.
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