Road

Market Street Road No. 2500, shown on the official road map of Harris County, January 1928.

Have you ever noticed that there’s a Market Street in North Shore and a Market Street in Baytown? 

Well, they used to be the same road. Back in 1847 Harris County laid out a road from Lynchburg to Goose Creek, ending where today’s Business Highway 146 bridge crosses the stream near the marina. Then in January 1871 the county approved construction of a bridge over Spring Gully, also known as Slapout Gully, and a road from Houston to A. P. Norsworthy’s ferry which crossed Buffalo Bayou just south of the Lynchburg ferry. This road was important because it was now possible to get from Goose Creek to Houston by horse and wagon, although boat travel was still easier and faster.

In 1892 the county built a First-Class road starting at Market Street in Houston’s 5th Ward and running east along the north side of the ship channel, crossing at the mouth of Green’s Bayou on Mrs Charles’ ferry. This road was called Market Street and it crossed Buffalo Bayou at the old Northsworthy ferry site, later called the Zavalla Point ferry, and ended at the Lynchburg ferry. 

At this time all Harris County ferries were pulled by hand across the river using a cable stretched from one bank to the other. This new road was actually just an upgrade from the old road because by now the width of First-Class roads had increased from 30 to 60 feet. For the most part, roads were laid out along people’s property lines and the Jury of View was tasked to “designate and describe the road to the greatest advantage to the public, so that the same can be traced with certainty.” 

The description includes such technical surveying terms as “… running in a straight line East through Harris and Wilson league and passing Mrs. Johnson’s house to the north side...” Since the road ended at the San Jacinto River all the Jury of View members lived west of the river. 

Ferries were made of wood so they needed to be replaced occasionally and when the hand-pulled Lynchburg ferry was replaced in 1911 the new ferry built for the crossing was powered by a 21 HP engine, although it still had the cable to keep on track. 

In 1916 a new ferry over Green’s Bayou was built and paid for in cash. It was hand-pulled and cost $375. 

In 1916 the county began paving the old dirt road with clam shell. This was a great improvement, making travel possible in most weather conditions. 

When the new town site of Goose Creek was started in 1916 the County Commissioners extended Market Street across the San Jacinto River to join up with the old road running from Lynchburg to Goose Creek. In 1918 they had a concrete ferry built for the Goose Creek crossing on the new extension up to the town of Goose Creek. 

Harry Thacker was appointed ferryman and one of his duties was to keep water pumped out of the boat. The concrete ferry was only intended as a temporary measure because in 1922 a bridge was built to replace it. 

1926 brought about plans to reroute Market Street to the city of Goose Creek when the bridge over the river was built. In March of that year a Citizen’s Committee petitioned the Commissioners to make sure the road ran through Baytown. The Court approved the petition and the following month they approved plans for a bridge which would bypass both the Zavala and Lynchburg ferries and reroute the road west of the river to what they called “the northern route”. 

By 1927, the road west of the river was complete and work started on grading and paving Market Street on the Baytown side. A bridge was built over Green’s Bayou and the last ferry on the route stopped service when the bridge opened in 1928.

From the day it was built, the bridge over Goose Creek was too narrow for traffic and several traffic accidents and fatalities had happened there. A request for replacement of the bridge was placed with the War Department in 1928 and the new 115’ span concrete bridge with a 5’ sidewalk opened in July 1931. In June 1955 Market Street between the traffic circle in Baytown west to Decker Drive was renamed as Bayway Drive.

You can no longer drive Market Street Road from start to end. 

The road still exists in Channelview south of I-10, but Beltway 8 and I-10 breaks it in pieces, and part of the Baytown stretch has been renamed Bayway Drive. 

However, if you are driving east on I-10 in the right lane over the San Jacinto River at low tide, you can still see the old creosote pilings from the 1928 bridge approach on the west side of the river bank. The road is still called Market Street from old Baytown to Texas Avenue.

 

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

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