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Chronology

( Originally Published 1940 )



1543—July 25. Survivors of the Hernando de Soto expedition are driven ashore near Lake Sabine by a storm.

1745—Spaniards learn that Frenchmen are trading in the section.

1756—Spanish establish the Presidio San Agustin de Ahumada and the Mission Nuestra Senora de la Luz del Orcoquisac near the mouth of the Trinity River, and tradition says a log building was erected by the mission near the head of the North Fork of what is now Taylor's Bayou.

1778—Padre Juan Agustin Morfi records English attempts to establish amicable relations with Indians in this neighborhood.

1838—John Sparks and family arrive in covered wagon from Tennessee.

1861—Sparks settlement becomes known as Aurora.

1886-87—Following an epidemic and a storm, Aurora is abandoned, and the land becomes cattle range.

1895—Arthur E. Stilwell visits the area and plans to build his "dream city." Town of Port Arthur is platted. Ship Canal is begun.

1896—March. Construction of Hotel Sabine and of first export pier begins.

1897—March. Terminal building of Kansas City, Pittsburg & Gulf R. R. is completed.

March 17. First issue of the Port Arthur News is printed on an excursion train that arrives in Port Arthur the following morning.

March 18. Port Arthur Herald distributes its first issue.

March 26. First schoolhouse is built.

September 11. Many excursionists arrive to see the last spike of the Kansas City, Pittsburg & Gulf R. R. driven.

September 12. Hurricane sweeps the city; ten lives are lost.

1898--March 29. Citizens vote to incorporate.

1899—March 10. Port Arthur Ship Canal completed.

May 21. Election of first city officials held.

December 3. John W. Gates, accompanying Arthur Stilwell, in whose companies he has invested heavily, makes his first visit to the city.

1901-03—Following the development of the Spindletop oil field, refineries are built.

1902—Port Arthur Channel and Dock Company, in receivership, becomes by court sale the property of Gates interests. Stilwell eliminated from Port Arthur affairs.

1906—Port Arthur becomes a port of entry.

1908—Completion of the Sabine-Neches Canal is celebrated.

1909November 15. A group of nationally-known financiers, as guests of John W. and Charles G. Gates, attend a "Billion Dollar Dinner" that marks the informal opening of the Plaza Hotel.

1912—Port Arthur Townsite Company is liquidated.

1916 Company I, 3d Infantry, Texas National Guard, is recruited to full strength because of Mexican border troubles.

1918—May 18. Dedication of Gates Memorial Library takes place.

1926—April 12. Gasoline explosion on tanker Gulf of Venezuela kills 29 and injures many more.

1929—November 27. Port Arthur votes to annex Edgemore, Del Mar, Lakeview and Griffing. Residents of Griffing, having voted to incorporate as a municipality, later secure an injunction preventing then city's inclusion.

1931—$1,750,000 seawall is completed.

1932—March 8. Citizens vote to establish a city manager-commission form of government.

1936—January. A $4,500,000 building boom gets under way.

August. Jefferson County Office Building (sub-courthouse) is dedi cated.

1938—February. Lake front retaining wall is completed.

April. Port Arthur-Orange bridge is finished.

September 8. Bridge officially opened.

December. Official announcement is made that the city ranks seventh among United States ports.

1939—June 17. First U. S. coast guard cutter built in Texas is launched.

September 10. $1,000,000 dial telephone system goes into effect.

September. Effects of second World War felt in petroleum and shipping industries.

December 31. Bank clearings total $22,379,879.

1940—February. Port Arthur granted franchise as member of Evangeline Baseball League. Concrete caps of Sabine Jetties lengthened.

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