County Road

Development of roads from Wooster to Cedar Bayou.

Have you ever noticed that while driving north on Main Street you cross Park Street headed west and a block further north you cross Cedar Bayou Road headed east? 

For several years around the turn of the 20th century this was a single road, with all its zigs and zags.

The Goose Creek Cedar Bayou Road had been established in 1861, starting at Samuel Page’s ferry on the east end of today’s Missouri Street and roughly following today’s Lee Drive connecting with West Main Street, then continuing north to the jog in the road where S. Main Street intersects with Republic Street. From there it turned almost direct to the Methodist Church at Shearn, the 1861 name of the community at Cedar Bayou. 

By 1878, Charles Durain had opened a ferry across Goose Creek, replacing the ferry at Page’s crossing and shortening the trip a bit. 

In 1894, a town called Wooster had sprouted up on the north shore of Scott’s Bay where today’s Bayway Drive turns north. The leading resident and town’s namesake was Q. A. Wooster who lived on Mapleton Avenue in the future Brownwood Subdivision which is today’s Baytown Nature Center. 

In 1895, he petitioned the county to establish a road from his community to Cedar Bayou, the nearest town of any size. The road would be important because it would bypass the circuitous route to Cedar Bayou across Durain’s ferry and would provide a thoroughfare for children in the newly created Wooster School District 38 which extended east to Goose Creek Stream. 

On Aug. 17, 1895, the Jury of View comprised of Junius Brown, J. F. Mitchell, Mike Casey, J. M. Brooks, and Q. A. Wooster delivered their report. The Wooster Cedar Bayou Road was established as a First-Class Road, 40 feet wide and the landowners over whose property the road passed were compensated out of the Harris County Road and Bridge Fund. 

This road started at Wooster’s property traveling east to Goose Creek Stream. From there it continued east to today’s N. Main Street and continued all the way to W. O. Ilfrey’s store on Cedar Bayou. 

A year later Rockwell Hoskins petitioned the County Commissioners to reroute the Goose Creek Cedar Bayou Road to extend to intersect the Wooster Road and then turn east. And abandon the straight shot to Cedar Bayou. 

In 1902, the Wooster road was slightly revised to eliminate the dog-leg at N. Main Street.

The Wooster Cedar Bayou Road has gone by many names over the years. In 1916 it was called the Lynchburg and Cedar Bayou Road and by 1927 was commonly called the “Jitney Road,” after the buses and taxis of the day which shuttled people around the area. 

By 1937, it was called Morrell Park Street when it was paved with shell. Another road just to the north named for C. E. Morrell, the owner of the land which would soon become Morrell Park was designated as Morrell Road and that N. Main dog-leg was put back in. By 1954 the Jitney Road was renamed as the Wooster Morrell Park Road (I know, it can be confusing). 

When Busch Terrace subdivision was built in 1946 the part of Park Street running along the north boundary just west of Goose Creek stream was named Woodruff, but the section through the refinery was officially still the Wooster Cedar Bayou County Road. 

A new concrete bridge was built over Goose Creek in 1946, bypassing the old wooden bridge, and over the years bits and pieces of the old Wooster Cedar Bayou County Road were gradually incorporated into the Goose Creek and later Baytown city limits. 

After 75 years the last piece running through the Humble Refinery was annexed by Baytown in February 1970 and officially became Park Street. 

Because it ran through the Refinery and Chemical plant, Park Street was occasionally closed for safety reasons and when Decker Drive was widened in 1976, the road was cut in half. You could still get from Cedar Bayou to Wooster, but you had to detour around the new highway crossing. 

In January 1989, due to periodic flooding, danger from the surrounding Exxon complex, inability to widen or improve the road, and reduced traffic due to opening up of other preferred routes, the portion of Park Street running through the refinery was sold to Exxon and closed for public use. 

Today the old Wooster Cedar Bayou Road only exists east of Goose Creek, and goes by two different names (which somehow seems appropriate), but what’s left still mostly follows the old road bed all the way to Cedar Bayou.

 

Baytown resident Chuck Chandler is retired from the Exxon Refinery and serves as Vice President of Baytown Historical Preservation Association. Contact him at chuck.chandler@baytownhistory.org

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(2) comments

baytownbert

"In January 1989, due to periodic flooding, danger from the surrounding Exxon complex, inability to widen or improve the road, and reduced traffic due to opening up of other preferred routes, the portion of Park Street running through the refinery was sold to Exxon and closed for public use. " This act for whatever reason, all but off Bayway Drive and everything on it and killed Lakewood. The only recourse is way down the road at Baker Road, or drive out Bayway on both ends. The Park Street closing was heavily used. I lived on Ashby Street and man, did this closing ever screw up travel. On top of the closing are RR tracks and trains that hold up traffic on Baker road. The expansion of Baytown is both creating and in a few cases, resolving traffic.

navyflyboy

That's the official line from City Council. https://weblink.baytown.org/WebLink/DocView.aspx?id=61437&searchid=e14e8f62-4327-4809-9bd3-7166d0605fda&dbid=0 Once Exxon built on both sides of the road, its days were numbered.

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