Local Treasures: The Texas City Dike

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Texas CIty Dike

By: Sharon Vining

Email:  sharon@thethinkering.com ►


When I went to pick up my grandson in Texas City, I asked my girlfriend Jennifer if she wanted to ride along.  She agreed.  During our conversation on the way down, she mentioned she had never been to Texas City.  We had time so I thought I would show her around.

I grew up in Texas City.  Texas City was and still is a chemical plant town.  It is probably most famous for the ship explosion in 1947.  It remains to this day, the deadliest industrial accident in history. Killing 581 people and injuring 5,000.

My memories of home involve explosions and sheltering in place.   In the 1960’s at the intersection of Hwy 146 and Texas Ave the air was yellow and the smell was so bad you had to hold your nose or put a shirt over your face as you set at the red light.  When there was an explosion you learned to shut all the doors and windows, turn off the air conditioner, stay inside and wait for the all clear.  But that is life in an industrial town.  I hated it and could not wait to leave.

Driving down Palmer Hwy is like the story of my life. There is Mainland Center Hospital.  Both my daughters were born there.  My father died there.  A few miles down there is the first Sonic I ever ate at.  Across the street from my all-time favorite BBQ place is Celina’s my hair dresser for 30 years.  Beside that is Alexander Maytag.  Once when my dryer broke and I needed to dry my clothes and go to work.  Mr. Alexander opened the store, sold me a dryer, delivered it and had me back drying my work clothes in 45 minutes. That’s what people in small towns do for each other.

To the right is the park where we used to run. Next are the football stadium and the new High School.  Across 6th Street are the older homes. Actually it is my favorite part of town.  Then we come to Bay St. There is a park now where the old Holiday Inn used to be. 

Finally we arrive at the dike and find they now charge $5 to go on the dike.  Kind of hard to pay $5 to go somewhere you have been going your whole life for free.  Jennifer looks around and exclaimed, “Wow this is paradise; we should have brought a camera! How lucky you are to have grown up here!”

To see what I was thinking, reread paragraphs two and three.  On the other hand, it is interesting to see your hometown from some else’s perspective. 

The Texas City Dike is part of a levee system located in Texas City, Texas that projects nearly 5 miles south-east into the mouth of Galveston Bay. Originally, it was designed to reduce the impact of sediment accumulation along the lower Bay.  As the small city grew, it became the city's best hope against a catastrophic water surge into the low-lying community from a hurricane. The dike, whose construction was authorized by the Texas State Legislature in 1935, was constructed of tumbled granite blocks, ranging in size from that of a small suitcase to roughly that of a small car, with a paved road extending its entire length.  Texas City is mostly surrounded by a 17-mile-long levee system that was built in the early 1960s following the devastating floods from Hurricane Carla in 1961.

In 2008, Hurricane Ike hit the Galveston area.  Though every structure on the Dike was destroyed, the dike and the level system did their job and saved the town. Seeing the Dike for the first time since Hurricane Ike, I must say the Dike never looked this good.



Sharon R Vining, RN BSN OCN has been a registered nurse since 1991. She graduated from Paris Junior College in Paris, Texas, in 1991 with an Associate Nursing Degree and received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, in 2005. Sharon spent 14 years in critical care, six years in stem cell transplant, and is currently in Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery as a clinical nurse at M D Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. She is a member of the AACN and ONS and is OCN certified.

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