Historic Map - Port Arthur, TX - 1912

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City and harbor of Port Arthur, Texas birds eye view looking south to the Gulf of Mexico.

Reproduction historical map of Port Arthur, TX, drawn and published in 1912. A city with a rich Gulf Coast history, Pleasure Island stretches 17 miles along Lake Sabine, once a secret hideaway for the famous pirate, Jean Lafitte.

Arthur Edward Stilwell, a railroad promoter who saw that with railroad connection to Kansas City, the area had great potential to be developed as a major tourist resort as well as an important seaport. He gave his name to the town and Port Arthur became a municipality in 1895. Stilwell's plans to cut a canal along the western edge of Lake Sabine were delayed and bogged down in legal battles with the New York bankers who owned most of the land around the deep waters of Sabine Pass. The railroad arrived in 1897 and the canal was finally completed in 1899, but the task had left Stilwell bankrupt and disillusioned with his dreams for Port Arthur. Later in life he said that he had been guided by "brownies" during this time.

The next era of continued development in Port Arthur was guided by John W. "Bet a Million" Gates, also known as "The Barbed Wire King". Gates purchased Stilwell's interests and pushed for extending the canal. Port Arthur became an official "Port of Entry" in 1906. Gates succeeded in extending the canal up the Neches River to Beaumont and Orange, effectively cutting off the town of Port Arthur from Lake Sabine, which greatly diminished its prospects as a tourist resort.

On January 10, 1901, the Spindletop Oilwell erupted and marked the beginning of the Spindletop Oilfield Boom. Pipelines brought the oil to the port and by the time this map was published, Port Arthur had become the 12th largest port in the U. S. A., in terms of export value.

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