The Port of Houston Authority Commissioners
From left to right: Jimmy A. Burke, James W. Fonteno Jr., Janiece Longoria, James T. Edmonds Chairman, Elyse Lanier, Kase L. Lawal,
The Port of Houston Authority is a governmental body authorized by a 1927 act of the Texas Legislature.
The seven-member Port of Houston Commission is the governing body for the Port of Houston Authority. The city of
Houston and the Harris County Commissioners Court each appoint two commissioners. These two government
bodies jointly appoint the chairman of the Port Commission. The Harris County Mayors & Councils Association and
the city of Pasadena each appoint one commissioner.
H. Thomas Kornegay
The Port of Houston Authority’s
executive director oversees the day-
to-day operations of the port and
implements policies and directives from
the Port Commission. He supervises
the PHA's divisions of administration,
facilities, operations, trade
development, and public affairs, as well
as the office of the general counsel.
The Port of Houston is now one of the largest ports in the world.
When Columbus sailed from Spain in 1492, he was looking for a faster, more con-
venient route by which goods could be transported from the Far East to Europe.
Since that time, more than 500 years ago, transportation of goods and services
among countries has changed the world, and the United States of America has
become the world's largest economy. The Port of Houston has been, and contin-
ues to be, an important part of that progress.
Houston, the Bayou City
Houston is known as the “Bayou City,” an appropriate name because
it describes Houston's appearance. In addition, the name also points
out an important and useful characteristic of its landscape. A bayou
is usually a small, slow-moving stream, formed from a river that has
accumulated thousands of tons of sand, silt, and loam as it makes its Houston Chronicle Activity
way to the ocean. As it approaches the ocean, the river widens and its Use the map of Texas, located on the WeatherChronicle of the
waters slow, depositing sediment that sometimes changes the course Houston Chronicle, to find Houston, Galveston, and Galveston Bay.
of the river. Offshoots of the river may become bayous. How did the fact that Buffalo Bayou runs in an easterly direction
make it, in the minds of the Allen brothers, the perfect link to
When Augustus and John Kirby Allen founded Houston in 1836, they Galveston Bay?
were looking for the same advantages that settlers anywhere would
seek. The availability of drinking water and water for farm crops would TEKS
be at the top of the list, and the availability of transportation and Geography
communication would follow close behind. Not everything the settlers The student understands the characteristics and relative locations
needed could be produced locally. Goods would have to be brought of major historical and contemporary societies. The student is
to the new town from other parts of Texas and from other countries expected to:
around the world. In order to pay for the products they purchased,
the inhabitants of Houston would have to sell the goods that they T identify and explain the geographic factors responsible for pat-
produced. These products had to be transported to those who would terns of population in places and regions.
The Allen brothers chose the location on which to establish Houston
T identify and explain the geographic factors responsible for the
location of economic activities in places and regions.
because they had the foresight to realize that Buffalo Bayou would link
the city to the rest of the world. In their announcement, they said:
The student understands the concepts of location, distance, and
direction on maps and globes. The student is expected to:
[Houston’s location] combines two important advantages: a com-
munication with the coast and foreign countries, and with different
portions of the Republic. As the country shall improve, railroads will T use cardinal and intermediate directions to locate places such
become in use, and will be extended from this point to the Brazos as rivers, mountains, and cities on maps and globes.
... [I]n a few years the whole trade of the upper Brazos will make its
way into Galveston Bay through this channel.
As early as the 1820s, Buffalo Bayou’s usefulness for navigation was
known. Unlike most major Texas streams, it ran in an easterly direction
and was wide and deep from its junction (joining) with the San Jacinto
River to Brays Bayou. It remained deep from Brays Bayou to White Oak
Bayou, providing better passage than most Texas streams.
on Buffalo Bayou
The Allens set out to prove that a water route from Galveston to By 1838, four steamboats, including the Laura, were traveling between
Houston was possible. They hired the Laura, an 85-foot-long steam- Houston and Galveston. However, water transportation on the bayou
boat, to make the journey from Galveston to Houston. The trip took was not entirely safe; ships frequently ran aground or collided.
three days, but the brothers believed that the journey proved that Passengers were afraid to travel the narrow bayou above Harrisburg.
Buffalo Bayou could be navigated above Harrisburg.
Businessmen began to realize that Houston’s growth and prosper-
Not everyone was convinced, and the doubters were partially right. ity would depend on its sea route and that improvements had to be
Above Harrisburg, stretches of the bayous were narrow and winding, made. During the 1850s, the state of Texas, as well as the city of
with overhanging trees along the banks and dangerous snags in the Houston and Harris County, provided funds for bayou improvement.
water. Galveston Bay, which is 30 miles of the 53-mile journey from Dredging was necessary as silt continued to build up in the bayou.
the open sea to Houston, is only nine feet deep, very shallow for most
vessels of that time period, as well as today. Most of the planned improvements were put on hold with the outbreak
of the Civil War, and the bayou returned to its overgrown, natural state
To further prove their point, the Allens arranged for the 150-foot-long during the war years. Railroads, the cheapest, fastest means of land
steamboat Constitution to visit Houston. Although the vessel reached transportation, also deteriorated during the Civil War.
Houston, it could not turn around, and it had to back down the bayou
until it reached a bend wide enough to permit turning. That section,
called Constitution Bend, is now the Houston Ship Channel's Turning Basin.
The sternwheeler St. Clair loading at the foot of Main Street.
Photo credit: Reaching for the Sea, Port of Houston Authority.
Civil War Harms
During the mid-1800s, business was booming in Houston. Three
steamships operated regularly between Houston and Galveston, carry-
ing cotton and lumber from Houston through Galveston and on to the Galveston Bay,
rest of the world. Railroads that served the area participated in the showing the
locations of the
growth that transportation along Buffalo Bayou brought to Houston. Houston Ship
At the beginning of the Civil War, Houston was becoming the railroad Channel, Houston,
center of the South. Goods could be brought to Houston by rail, and Galveston, and
other major fea-
then shipped to Galveston by steamboat. Likewise, goods purchased tures of the area.
from the rest of the world would be shipped to Galveston, transferred
to steamboat, and shipped to Houston. There the goods could be sold
or shipped by rail to other locations.
In 1869, the Buffalo Bayou Ship Channel Company was formed for the
Shallow-draft steamboats were ideal for navigating bayous and rivers. purpose of making major navigational improvements. In 1870, the city
Very little depth was required on a shallow-draft steamboat because a petitioned the federal government to make Houston a port of entry.
fraction of the vessel was under water. These vessels were character- The request was granted, and the United States Congress made an ini-
ized by narrow, flat bottoms, straight hulls and lightweight construc- tial $10,000 federal appropriation for channel improvements in 1872.
tion. Because of their construction, these steamboats, like barges, This was only a first step, but an important signal for the future.
traveled nearly on top of the water.
Houston Chronicle Activity
The outbreak of the Civil War brought a halt to improvements, and
even maintenance of the railroads and bayous stopped. The federal government gets money from all of the states. It is
sometimes difficult, therefore, to get Congress to fund an improvement
Draw a form of transportation that was used to ship goods during needed by one particular state. Why do you think the federal govern-
the mid 1800s. ment was willing to give money for channel improvements in Houston?
How would that benefit the entire country? Look through the Houston
Chronicle for examples of local projects that are funded, in whole or
in part, by federal funds. Describe the projects. Explain how the entire
country might benefit from the projects.
The student understands patterns of work and economic activities
in Texas. The student is expected to:
T analyze and explain how developments in transportation and
communication have influenced economic activities in Texas and
in the United States.
The student understands the political, economic, and social changes
in Texas during the last half of the 19th century. The student is
T identify the impact of railroads on life in Texas, including
changes to cities and major industries.
Houston Needs a In 1899, the barge Jackson transported the largest cotton cargo ever to travel
Buffalo Bayou. The barge was loaded at the Houston Converting Plant with 5,300
bales of cotton, weighing 1,285,861 pounds, and journeyed to Bolivar Roads,
where it was loaded on the steamship Catania for Boston.
Because bulky raw materials such as cotton needed economical water Photo credit: Reaching for the Sea, Port of Houston Authority.
transportation in order to reach world markets, Houston’s businessmen
began to point out the need for a deep-water port. It was expensive
to ship cotton to Galveston, where the cotton would be loaded onto
an oceangoing vessel, a ship that was large enough to carry the sup-
plies and people needed to make a long journey. People had to be
paid to load the cotton twice. Time was also wasted. This added to
the expenses that the shipper had to pay. If only the cotton could be
shipped directly from Houston!
The problem was that most oceangoing vessels were designed to
draw more than 20 feet of water. They needed a draft of more than
20 feet. This meant that the water had to be more than 20 feet deep
for the ship to travel in. The draft is the distance between the water
level and the bottom (keel) of the ship. Buffalo Bayou was not nearly
deep enough, and Galveston Bay was certainly too shallow. Houston
either had to build a deep-water port or continue using the wharves in Houston Chronicle Activities
Galveston. While most ads sell products or services, some ads sell ideas,
such as the ad for the deep-water port. Look through the Houston
Ads began to appear in various newspapers to persuade people that Chronicle for an ad that tries to convince people about something
a deep channel to a deep-water port was necessary for Houston. One other than a product or service.
such ad showed the barge Jackson transferring its load of cotton to
the steamship Catania. The ad argued that if the steamship had been Another way that people might try to persuade others to behave in a
able to reach Houston, the producer would have saved $2,500 in particular way is by writing letters to the editor. Read one or two let-
freight charges. The ad read, “With deep water in Buffalo Bayou, this ters to the editor in the Houston Chronicle and explain what the writer
cotton could have been loaded onto a steamer at Houston.” wants readers to do as a result of his/her letter.
Draft is the distance between the waterline, or water level,
and the bottom, or keel, of the ship. Label this diagram.
Competition An argument about the location of the Turning Basin, the head of navi-
gation, was settled by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, who decided
from Galveston that it should be located at Constitution Bend. The biggest problem
was the depth of the channel. Most oceangoing vessels of the early
When Galveston obtained a 25-foot channel in 1896, Houston lost 1900s were designed to draw more than 20 feet of water. Houston
one of its competitive advantages. Large vessels that before had could not compete with other Gulf of Mexico ports unless its channel
been forced to unload beyond the sandbar, could now unload cargo at was 25 feet deep. Cotton, lumber, and rice — the most important car-
Galveston docks. Houston congressmen began working to convince the goes — were low-value commodities. This meant that the sale by the
U.S. Congress that a deep-water port with a deep-water channel to the producer of the goods would depend on price. And the price at which
open sea should be built at Houston, but progress was very slow. he could sell his product depended partly on the price he had to pay
for transportation. A deep-water port was a necessity.
On September 8, 1900, Galveston was devastated by a hurricane
dubbed the Great Storm. More than 6,000 people were killed, and
most of the buildings in Galveston were destroyed.
With the news of Galveston's destruction, the Rivers and Harbors
Committee of Congress began to listen to Congressman Tom Ball of
Houston. They appropriated $1 million for dredging the Houston Ship
Channel to a depth of 25 feet. Money ran out, however, and improve-
ments stopped at 18 1/2 feet. This depth would allow some oceango-
ing vessels to navigate, but it was not deep enough for most vessels,
and deep-sea trade was hindered.
By 1904, the 18 1/2-foot depth had almost reached across shallow
Galveston Bay. The Houston Ship Channel still had problems to be
solved. Many sharp turns along the channel made navigation difficult.
The largest ships of the 19th century were approximately 300 feet Originally called Constitution Bend, the Turning Basin is the heart of the Port of
long. By the beginning of the 20th century, ships that were 350 feet Houston.
long were coming into service. Unless the sharp bends were straight-
ened, the channel would be obsolete before it was even completed. Houston Chronicle Activity
There are certain brand names that we will pay more for because
we believe that their quality makes them worth more money. There
are other items that we purchase based on price alone. Look through
the Houston Chronicle for three ads for brand-name items that you or
members of your family believe are worth the extra money. Then, find
ads for three items that you would buy based on price alone. Which
of these manufacturers must worry most about transportation costs?
The student understands how businesses operate in the U.S. free
enterprise system. The student is expected to:
T explain how the cost of production and selling price affect profits.
After Galveston was devastated by a massive hurricane in 1900,
Congress appropriated $1 million for deepening the Houston Ship Channel.
Photo credit: The Library of Congress.
The Port of Houston such as urbanization, increased use of oil and gas, and the growth of
aerospace and other technology industries.
Authority The student understands the political, economic, and social changes
Houston Mayor Horace Baldwin Rice was instrumental in developing in Texas during the last half of the 19th century. The student is
the “Houston Plan,” which promised that local interests would pay one- expected to:
half the cost of completing a 25-foot channel if Congress would appro-
priate sufficient funds to execute the project promptly. Mayor Rice and T explain the growth and development of the cattle and oil industries.
Congressman Ball led a large delegation to Washington, D.C., in 1909.
They presented the plan to the House Rivers and Harbors Committee,
and Congress approved the plan. The Dredging Process
As the Houston Ship Channel marks more that 90 years of service, a
Work began in June, 1912, as the Texas, a large dredge barge, began
five-year dredging construction project to deepen and widen the water-
work. Five more large dredges were later added. The project, sched-
way has been completed. It took nearly 30 years to receive approval
uled to take three and a half years, was finished in two years and
and funding for this project. The ship channel's new depth of 45 feet
three months. Amid much fanfare, the Houston Ship Channel officially
and its width of 520 feet makes it possible for current and future ves-
opened November 10, 1914. It was at that time, and remains today, an
sels to use it easily and safely.
engineering marvel that connects an inland city to the sea
52 miles away.
In addition, barge lanes have been constructed along both sides of
the channel. These barge lanes improve safety by separating the more
At the same time, the Panama Canal and the Gulf Intracoastal
than 150,000 barges that call at the Port of Houston each year from
Waterway, a protected shipping canal connecting Texas with Florida,
the larger vessels in the waterway.
were under construction.
Houston was ready for the major changes and tremendous economic
activity that were to follow the discovery of oil in Texas.
Houston’s new ship channel and railroads attracted the oil industry
to the Bayou City. Transportation, land for expansion, protection from
tropical storms, and access to nearby Mexican, Central American, and
South American oil fields made Houston a leading city in the petroleum
Although World War I virtually halted world shipping, Houston quickly
recovered when the war ended, and the ship channel became home to
many oil refineries.
Changes in the design and size of ocean vessels, particularly oil tank- The dredge barge has a set of teeth that churn up the dredge material so that
the pipeline can suction it from the channel’s floor.
ers, made a 30-foot depth necessary by the 1920s. By 1925, the proj-
ect to deepen the channel to 30 feet was completed.
The student understands important issues, events and individuals of
the 20th century in Texas. The student is expected to:
T identify the impact of various issues and events on life in Texas
A closeup of the dredge teeth on a dredge barge.
The student understands how people adapt to and modify their envi-
ronment. The student is expected to:
T describe ways people have adapted to and modify their environ-
ment in Texas, past and present.
The student understands the impact of interactions between people
and the physical environment on the development of places and
regions. The student is expected to:
T identify and analyze ways people have modified their physical
T describe ways in which technology influences human capacity to
A dredge barge controls the suction pipe and collects the dredge material from modify the physical environment.
the bottom of the Ship Channel.
Houston Chronicle Activity
The proposal for deepening and widening the Houston Ship Channel
was made in 1969 and took 30 years to receive approval and
funding from Congress. Actual construction took a little more than
five years to complete. Planners had to make projections about the
future as they imagined what would be needed in the 21st century.
Major projects are often proposed decades in advance of their
completion. Look through the Houston Chronicle for mention of a
long-range project. Explain what supporters of the proposal expect to
accomplish. Tell what assumptions they are making about the future.
Do you agree with their assumptions? Explain your answer.
The dredge material exits the pipeline and builds up to form the Mid-Bay marsh.
The Port Delivers acres of inter-tidal wetland habitat. A six-acre bird nesting island was
constructed. An offshore underwater berm was created to attract fish.
an Improved Environment Access channels and anchorages were provided for recreational boat-
ers. About 172 acres of oyster reefs were constructed to make up for
oysters that had been affected in other areas. Two previously existing
What Happens to the Dredge Material? islands that had eroded over the years were partially reconstructed.
Millions of cubic yards of silt, sand, and clay are dredged from the ship The wildlife habitats created thus far have attracted enormous numbers
channel each year. Without careful planning, disposal of this dredge of birds, including the federally endangered brown pelicans. Oystermen,
material can have a negative effect on the environment. To make fishermen, and recreational boaters are all enjoying the new reefs, fish
sure that the surrounding areas are attractive and useful, the Port of habitats, and anchorages that have been created through this project.
Houston Authority treats the dredged areas through the Disposal Area
Management Program (DAMP). First, most of the water is removed This environmental project, larger than any other even proposed elsewhere
from clean, dredged material. Then, a specially designed tractor is in the United States, has won awards for the Port of Houston Authority.
used to level the dredged material. The sun dries the top layer, and
more dredged material is added, which undergoes the same process. Also, the Port of Houston Authority’s Barbours Cut Container Terminal
and Central Maintenance Facility were the first of any port facilities
Eventually, trees and grass grow, and the site looks like a meadow. Even in the U.S. to develop and implement an innovative Environmental
then, the DAMP site needs care. The Port of Houston Authority works Management System for waste recycling and air quality improvement
with the Beneficial Uses Group (the BUG) and the U.S. Army Corps of that meets the rigorous standards of ISO 14001 compliance.
Engineers to maintain the sites. Water from rainfall must be removed,
grass must be cut, and vegetation must be controlled. Concerns of Houston Chronicle Activity
neighborhood civic associations are addressed so that people who live In the Houston Chronicle, find a photo of an environment that people
nearby can take pride in the appearance of their community. have changed or modified in order to meet their needs. Paste below.
Progress and plans for the future continue. Scientists hope that in the
future they will find a way to use the dredged materials to provide
sand and clay for construction.
The BUG developed the 50-year plan to use more than 350 million
cubic yards of silt, sand, and clay dredged from the ship channel to
make environmental improvements that benefit birds, fish, oysters,
and people. The dredged material is being used to construct 4,250
Color this wildlife habitat,
the 219-acre Glendale site,
that is now a large meadow
with trees. Draw wildlife
that now can live there.
The Port Delivers a Man-Made Marvel
In 2001, student Ally Levy won a contest to name a six-acre island formed from Houston Ship Channel dredge material. She researched and discovered that a Spanish explorer
named José de Evia discovered Galveston Island and named it for his Spanish governor, Bernando de Galvez. Ally named this wildlife habitat Evia Island after José de Evia.
The Port Delivers
Litter that washes down the street drains into the bayou and ends
up in the ship channel is called “floatables.” Mighty Tidy is a boat
that skims and picks up trash in Buffalo Bayou and the Houston Ship
Channel. Mighty Tidy can also remove trash from trees and bayou
banks, or waters’ edges. The vessel, originally painted bright pink, was
named by Houston area student Haley Hendrix.
The student understands how people adapt to and modify their
environment. The student is expected to:
T identify reasons why people have adapted to and modified their
environment in Texas, past and present, such as the use of
natural resources to meet their basic needs.
T analyze the consequences of human modification of the
environment in Texas, past and present.
Social Studies Skills
The student applies critical-thinking skills to organize and use
information from a variety of sources including electronic
More than 4,250 acres of marsh and bird habitat is being created using dredge
technology. The student is expected to: material from the project of enlarging the Houston Ship Channel.
T identify different points of view about an issue or topic.
Volunteers pick up trash along Buffalo Bayou.
The Port of Houston Delivers the Clean & Green Initiative
When we litter, the garbage
gets in the storm drains and
ends up in our bayous
The bayous and bays are
pick up enough
home to many animals and
litter to fill
habitats. These animals
want a clean home too.
Litter is bad for our
environment. It’s bad for our communities.
Put trash in its proper place.
Don’t trash our streets.
Find new ways to reuse
12 and dispose of trash.
Spread the word to keep Houston clean and green.
On September 4, 2007, the Port
of Houston Authority launched
the Clean & Green campaign to Five days per week, a land-based
promote cleaning up debris in crew collects litter and debris
and around Buffalo Bayou and
from the banks while a
the Houston Ship Channel. water-based crew works from a
In partnership with skimmer boat to remove litter
Buffalo Bayou, Shell Oil and from storm drains, banks and
Port of Houston Authority
other natural collection areas.
volunteers, the port strives to The program aims to fill 83 gar-
make Houston a healthier and bage trucks. This will result in
greener place. a cleaner and more beautiful
waterway for Houston residents
From August 2007 through to enjoy.
June 2008, a total of 1,713
cubic yards of trash was On June 21, 2008, nearly 100
removed, which would fill volunteers gathered to
nearly 67 garbage trucks. collect 5,049.35 gallons of
trash. That’s enough to fill 53
of the 90-gallon receptacles
Houston householders use
for trash collection.
Help the trash get to its proper place.
If you go the wrong
way, the trash may
end up in a
bayou or street.
The Port Delivers Tons of Cargo Every Day
Bayport Container Terminal Port Fun Facts
The $1.2 billion Bayport Container Terminal is a state-of-the-art facility The Port of Houston delivered more than 1 million TEUs in 2007 and
and has substantially increased the port’s container-handling capacity. handles more than 225 million tons of cargo per year.
The terminal will have a total of seven container berths and currently
has six wharf cranes with 65 long ton (22,240 pounds) capacity. The Bayport facility alone can handle up to 2.3 million TEUs.
The Port of Houston handles 95.5% of the waterborne containers
moving through Texas.
Each year, more than 7,700 vessels come through the Port of Houston.
Container Fun Facts
The number of containers a ship can hold is measured in TEUs, or
One TEU is equal to one 20-foot container.
A 40-foot container equals two TEUs.
A 40-foot container holds 640 LCD televisions.
Large ships carry about 8,000 TEUs.
Containerized cargo is cargo that comes in containers. These containers hold just about anything … shoes, computers, bikes, you name it.
List some other items that could be containerized cargo. ____________________________________________________
Dry bulk cargo is dry material that does not come in containers. It is measured by weight or volume. For example, salt, grain or sand. List
some other items that could be dry bulk cargo. __________________________________________________________
Liquid bulk cargo is wet material that does not come in containers. It is measured by weight or volume. The main liquid products that move
through the Port of Houston are petroleum products and organic chemicals. List some other items that could be liquid bulk. __________
Breakbulk or rolling cargo consists of large or heavy items that have to be moved on rollers to transportation. These products include wood,
food products and cars. List some other items that are considered breakbulk. ________________________________________
Activity Credit: Port of Long Beach
The Port Delivers The Port Delivers
Economic Benefits to the World
Where can goods be transported?
Economic Impact The facilities operated by the Port of Houston offer shippers deep-water
Ever since the Port of Houston first opened to deep-water vessels in 1914, access to world markets and a direct link to 14,000 miles of U.S. intracoast-
Houstonians have recognized that their port is vitally important to the area’s al and navigable inland waterways. The 53-mile-long Houston Ship Channel
economic growth. Today, the Port of Houston is ranked first in the United links Houston to Galveston Bay and the rest of the world. Some of the leading
States in foreign waterborne tonnage and second in total tonnage. The port trading partners are Mexico, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, South Korea,
is one of the most significant sources of jobs and business revenue in the Germany, Brazil, and the United Kingdom. From the Port of Houston, vessels
community. travel to ports in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Ships
use the Panama Canal, a man-made canal in Central America, to reach the
The latest figures (2007) show that the port’s public and private marine
Pacific Ocean without having to travel around South America.
terminals generate nearly $118 billion in business revenues annually. In
addition, more than 785,000 total jobs are associated with the port activity The Port of Houston has helped the growth of other forms of transportation
in Texas. Direct jobs are those generated by the companies providing support in the area. Two railroads, Burlington Northern-Santa Fe and Union Pacific,
services to the cargo-handling and vessel-related services of the port. Related provide service to all points in the United States. More than 100 truck lines
jobs are those created locally throughout the region due to the purchase of serve the Turning Basin, which is located just five miles from major interstate
goods and services by those directly associated with port activity. There are highways that run both north-south and east-west.
119,856 direct jobs associated with port activity. The port also generates
$3.7 billion annually in state and local tax revenues. As the amount of cargo Goods shipped to the Port of Houston from anywhere in the world can be
increases, and as more and more vessels call at the Port of Houston, these unloaded from the vessels and loaded onto rail cars or trucks quickly, easily,
numbers will increase. and inexpensively.
The Port of Houston exports petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals,
What kinds of jobs cereals and cereal products, plastics, animal or vegetable fats and oils,
do people do at the port? machinery, and many other products to countries around the globe.
As you might well imagine, there are many different kinds of jobs done at the
Port of Houston. Longshoremen load and unload the cargo; office workers TEKS
help keep track of the many different products that are arriving and leaving Economics
each day; workers on tugboats help pull the ships from place to place in the The student understands how Texas, the United States, and other
port. There are good jobs for people with all sorts of abilities at the port. parts of the world are economically interdependent. The student is
Houston Chronicle Activity
As workers who hold the direct jobs associated with port activity buy goods T identify ways in which technological changes have resulted in increased inter-
and services in their communities, their purchases create related jobs. Look dependence among Texas, the United States, and the world.
through the ads in the Houston Chronicle for goods and services that these
workers might purchase. Make a collage of the items that jobs related to the
port activity might provide for these workers.
T explain how Texans meet some of their needs through the purchase of
products from the United States and the rest of the world.
Economics T identify oil and gas, agricultural, and technological products of Texas that
are purchased to meet needs in the United States and around the world.
The student understands patterns of work and economic activities in
Texas. The student is expected to:
Houston Chronicle Activities
T explain how people in different regions of Texas earn their living, past and present.
Look through the Business section of the Houston Chronicle to find
articles about three items that Houston exports to other countries.
Science, Technology, and Society
The student understands the impact of science and technology on Find articles about three items that are imported from
life in the United States. The student is expected to: other countries.
T explain how scientific discoveries and technological
innovations in the fields of medicine, communication, and
16 transportation have benefited individuals and society in the
From Bush to Kitchen: Transporting
How Coffee Reaches Us Most coffee importers follow the process from harvest to destination
port. They visit local coffee farms to observe the cultivation, harvesting,
and processing methods. They negotiate prices, purchase the coffee,
book the transportation, and track the coffee beans to make sure the
coffee that arrives at the port is the coffee they bought.
Coffee beans are transported in containers. The beans are sometimes
packed in sacks and weigh about 130 pounds. Containers are trans-
ported over water via steamship and over land via truck or railcar.
Growing and Harvesting
Coffee is grown on an evergreen shrub in tropical and subtropi-
cal climates, mostly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of
Capricorn. Favorable year-round temperatures and plenty of rain make
prime growing conditions for coffee trees. The average coffee tree takes
five years to bear its first full crop.
There are two types of coffee grown throughout the world: Arabica and Warehousing
Robusta. Arabica is grown at altitudes of 2,000 – 6,000 feet above
sea level, mostly in Mexico, Central and South America, Eastern Africa, Coffee beans (still packed in the 130–pound bags) are stored on
and the East Indies. Robusta grows wild in low altitudes, mostly in pallets in specially-certified warehouses that control humidity and
Western Africa and Indonesia. provide inventory control systems. Coffee beans may be stored in the
warehouse for more than two years. They may be distributed anywhere
Green coffee beans are actually the seeds of the coffee tree’s fruit, called by truck, rail, or airplane.
cherries. An acre of coffee trees can produce up to 10,000 pounds of
coffee cherries. This amounts to about 2,000 pounds of beans.
Coffee beans are separated from the pulp and impurities by one of two
processing methods. In either method, the moisture content must be Exposing green coffee beans to a specific warming process eliminates
maintained at a constant level. moisture in the beans. When heated to temperatures of 400˚F or
more, coffee beans lose moisture and weight, and take on a darker
color. Roasting times vary from seven minutes to 14 minutes. To
preserve the freshness of the roast, coffee is packaged and sealed as
quickly as possible.
Coffee is the most popular beverage in the world. More than 400
billion cups are consumed each year. As a traded commodity, coffee
is second only to oil on the world market.
The Port Delivers
Trade with foreign countries establishes economic ties, but it also
provides the opportunity to increase goodwill between the countries.
One example of the Port of Houston’s efforts to expand trade is the
visit by Port officials to Angola and Namibia, two nations located along
the coast of western Africa. Trade agreements can help all countries to
get what they most need. Angola needs housing materials, consumer
goods, medical supplies, mining and construction material. In return,
they can export coffee, forest products, and seafood. Namibia is
expected to import mining equipment, road-building equipment, and
housing materials. They can export copper, zinc, grapes, seafood, gran-
ite, and salt. The Port of Houston will benefit from the increased trade,
but so will Angola and Namibia. Good trade relations will also enhance
the image of each of the trading partners.
The Port of Houston also helps increase goodwill between countries
when it assists the government of the United States in providing
humanitarian aid to developing countries. Thousands of tons of food
are shipped to countries around the world from Houston — food that is
necessary to feed needy people. The Port of Houston has sister port agreements with:
Port of Dalian in the People’s Republic of China
Santos in Brazil
Kaohsiung in the People’s Republic of China
National Port Authority of Liberia in Monrovia, Liberia
The student understands how geographic factors influence the eco-
nomic development, political relationships, and policies of societies.
The student is expected to:
T explain factors such as location, physical features, transportation
corridors and barriers, and distribution of natural resources that influ-
ence the economic development and foreign policies of societies.
Houston Chronicle Activity
Foreign countries need many goods. Look through the Houston
Chronicle for articles that tell some of the products foreign countries
need. Are some of those items goods that can be shipped from the
Port of Houston?
Thousands of tons of food are shipped to countries around the
world from Houston — food that is necessary to feed needy people.
The Port Delivers Safety in many areas. Vessels carrying goods and people from dozens
of different countries call at the Port of Houston every day. It is
As one of the world's largest ports, the Port of Houston includes the important that those ships and people are safe from those who would
exceptionally busy Houston Ship Channel, through which ships from like to hurt the people and the economy of the United States.
around the globe travel in and out every day. To assure the safety of
Immediately after 9/11, ensuring the security of the vessels and
these vessels as they navigate the 53-mile long waterway, the Houston
facilities along the Houston Ship Channel and other waterways
pilots guide every vessel to its dock.
throughout the region became the focus of a group called the Port
The Houston Ship Channel is among the world’s most difficult to pilot Security Sub-committee of the Houston Galveston Navigational Safety
because of the long and narrow channel and the heavy load of traf- Advisory Committee. Its members included representatives of federal,
fic that it carries. The pilots are experts at navigating the channel. state, and local agencies, as well as representatives from businesses,
Although the ship captains are very good at their jobs, they do not organizations, and private citizens. The group, now known as the Area
have the experience with the Houston Ship Channel that the pilots Maritime Security Committee, was chartered by the U.S. Coast Guard
do. Pilots know the tug traffic routines, and they know where the busy and is the center for all phases of port security planning, including
intersections are. Pilots have guided vessels through the channel since anti-terrorism, counter-terrorism, and crisis response management.
it was opened in 1914. In 1914, there were two pilots; today there are
In recent years, the Port of Houston Authority has received more than
72 pilots and 18 deputy pilots in training.
$38.6 million in grants from the federal government, and several
The pilot boards a ship that is entering the channel when the ves- important security projects have been implemented. Projects that
sel is in the Gulf of Mexico. If the vessel is leaving the channel, the improve dockside and perimeter security, such as fencing and lighting,
pilot boards the ship at the dock. The pilot works with the captain of and a closed-circuit television camera system have been installed. The
the vessel to make sure the ship enters and leaves the Houston Ship additional fencing and lighting serve as barriers, preventing unauthorized
Channel safely. access to the port. As a result, PHA is the first port authority in the
world to receive ISO 28000:2007 certification for Port Police and the
Considering the amount of traffic and the different sizes of the ships that perimeter security operations at both the Barbours Cut and Bayport
navigate the channel, the Port of Houston has one of the finest safety Terminals. The Port of Houston Authority also has constructed a state-of-
records in the country, and the pilots work hard to maintain that record. the-art command center that connects with the U.S. Coast Guard. The
FBI and Customs also tie into the command center. A highlight of the
recent 80th Texas Legislative Session was authorization for the creation
of the Houston Ship Channel Security District.
The Port of Houston Authority works closely with the U.S. Coast Guard to
determine whether ships entering the channel might be a problem. As
ships approach the Texas coastline, the Coast Guard conducts a risk
analysis to determine whether there are any safety concerns. The risk
analysis takes into account the last port of call, the country of origin, the
crew, and the cargo. A Navy patrol craft is used to board vessels before
they enter the port. The screening process is very strict, and if there is
some reason to do so, the Coast Guard will hold the ship offshore.
The system includes monitoring people, cargo, and vessels entering the port
from the time they leave a foreign port to the time they arrive on U.S. shores.
Houston Chronicle Activity
A Port of Houston Authority fireboat shows its capabilities
in red, white, and blue colored water.
Many changes have taken place in the time since the attacks by ter-
rorists on 9/11. Look through the Houston Chronicle for articles about
security measures that have been put in place since that time. Then,
The Port Delivers Security estimate the additional cost that accompanies
those measures. Include expenses for equipment and
When the terrorists struck the United States in 2001, it became clear materials and expenses for time lost that could have
that Americans would have to make security a priority in this country. been spent in a more productive way if there were no
need for security.
Airline safety has been one of the most noticeable changes in our
everyday lives, but experts have been busy planning for improvements
The Sam Houston Delivers 50 Years of Service
Get ready for an unforgettably spectacular waterborne tour of
one of the busiest ports in the world aboard the Port of Houston
Authority's free public tour boat!
Named for the legendary military commander, Sam Houston, who led
the fight for Texas independence from Mexico and later statehood, the
M/V Sam Houston offers free 90-minute round-trip voyages along the
Houston Ship Channel.
The M/V Sam Houston has been operating as the port authority's pub-
lic tour vessel since July 30, 1958. During the last 50 years, the boat
has opened its doors to clubs, civic groups, presidents and royalty for
free tours, and by 1979, a total of 1 million passengers had taken the
The legendary M/V Sam Houston turned 50 years old on July 30, 2008. tour. Departing from the port's Sam Houston Pavilion, visiting sightse-
ers can enjoy the views of international cargo vessels and operations
at the port's Turning Basin Terminal. Measuring 95 feet in length and
24 feet in width, the boat carries a maximum capacity of 100 passen-
gers with air-conditioned lounge seating and additional standing room
on the boat's rear deck.
How Well Do You Know the M/V Sam Houston? Circle the correct answer.
The M/V Sam Houston was named after the military commander (Sam Houston/George Washington). The boat was christened on
July (4th/25th/30th), 1958, and on July 30, 2008, our prestigious M/V Sam Houston celebrated (100/85/50) years of service.
It has been giving ($5/$50/FREE) tours down the (ocean /Houston Ship Channel /river) since (2008/1958) and by 1979 over
(1,000/100,000/1,000,000) people had taken a tour. The boat is (50ft/500ft/95ft) long and (20ft/24ft) wide. This historic
beauty can hold up to (50/100) people and is fully air-conditioned. All I have to do is call 713-670-2416 or make reservations at
(port.com/portof.com/portofhouston.com) and I can take a trip aboard the historic M/V Sam Houston.
Written by: Marie Swiston, for the Houston Chronicle
Edited by: Port of Houston Authority
Designed and illustrated by: Gary Tuttle and Tony Dennison,
20 for the Houston Chronicle
Photos provided by: Port of Houston Authority
PARTS OF A BOAT
The front of the boat is called the bow.
The back of the boat is called the stern.
The left side of the boat is called the port.
The right side of the boat is called the starboard.
Now let’s see if you can label the parts of the M/V Sam Houston
with the appropriate terms.
Draw a line from each ship in column A to its description in column B.
COLUMN A COLUMN B
1. M/V Sam Houston A. This is used to make the Houston Ship Channel deeper and wider
2. Dredge Barge B. This vessel helps put out fires on ships
3. Tugboat C. An 85-foot-long steamboat that made the first journey from Galveston to Houston
4. Cargo Vessel D. This ship carries lumber, rice, cotton, and other products to countries around the world
5. Fireboat E. The ship that provides a free, 90-minute tour along the Houston Ship Channel
6. Laura F. This is a small, but strong, vessel that pulls or pushes larger ships