Galveston Saltwater Moms

Welcome to /r/Cruise! This is a place to discuss anything and everything about cruising, working on cruise ships, and experiencing the lifestyle of cruising!Hi all! I was hoping for some help with places to stay and transfers/uber. This is my first time sailing out of Galveston and would like a little help. We’re flying in the night before and I’d like to stay in Galveston over staying at the airport. We’re flying into Huston and wondering if we should go with Cruise transfer, uber/lift, or another company? (We’re a group of 9) What is/was your experience and what did/do you like more? Also, will any hotel in Galveston work? Or should I stay away from some parts and/or hotel? Thanks for your time!

By accepting all cookies, you agree to our use of cookies to deliver and maintain our services and site, improve the quality of Reddit, personalize Reddit content and advertising, and measure the effectiveness of advertising.
If you’re planning to travel around Texas before your cruise or to stay in Galveston for a few days before you set sail, you may want to rent a car. Like any major airport, there are plenty of car rental companies to choose from at IAH. Click here to see all 11 rental car companies at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport and begin comparing deals.

Whichever way you want to travel between Houston and the Port of Galveston, you can rest assured that this comprehensive guide has all of your options covered. So, choose the best option for you and your crew, book your trip, and then arrive at the Port of Galveston feeling relaxed, refreshed, and ready to set sail!
Galveston, Texas is located 50 miles from Houston. So, whether you fly into the George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) or William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) traveling between the two destinations requires a bit of planning before you arrive. Using a ridesharing app like Uber or Lyft is the cheapest and most convenient way to travel between the two destinations, but you can also pre-book shuttle services or even use official cruise transport as well. For a little more freedom, consider renting a car to see more of the state on your Texan vacation or explore more unique and fun transport options like party buses, limos, exotic cars, and even a helicopter charter to make the trip even more memorable! Want to travel in style? Skip the shuttle bus or Uber ride and check out these four unique ways to get from Houston to the Port of Galveston and start your vacation off with a bang.There are two ways to travel by shuttle from Houston to the Port of Galveston because there are both private shuttle companies and official cruise line shuttle services operating in the city. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each option. Speak with your cruise line when booking your package to ask about rates and shuttle services between Houston and the Port of Galveston if this sounds like an appealing option for your group. Ridesharing with companies like Uber and Lyft is much cheaper than the taxi services in Houston. From IAH to the Port of Galveston, an Uber will only cost about $60 and can fit up to four people. For groups of two, that makes an Uber about the same price as the cheapest shuttle service and for groups of four, it’s significantly cheaper – all while being more convenient as well. From the Hobby airport, an Uber to the Port of Galveston is even more budget-friendly at only $40 per ride.If you’d rather travel by air then by road (and enjoy some sweeping Texan views while you’re at it), contact these companies to inquire about charter rates and required permits, but just be warned that this option doesn’t come cheap!

TaxiFareFinder estimates the one-way trip between IAH and the Port of Galveston will run you $190, but the good news is that the price is per car rather than per person. For four people, this comes out to about $100 per person for the round trip – which is double the price of the cheapest shuttle option but similar to the most expensive one. From the Hobby airport, the TaxiFareFinder estimates the trip will cost about $115 to reach the Port of Galveston. Go all out for your transport between Houston and Galveston and consider chartering a helicopter to fly between the two destinations! There are multiple helicopter charter companies in Houston where you can start your search, including: If you still don’t see what you’re looking for, you can also choose the Galveston Flyer or the Super Shuttle for your shared-ride shuttle services between the IAH and Hobby airports and the Port of Galveston, but you’ll need to call the companies or request a quote online because nether shuttle service lists their prices on their website.Island Breeze Shuttle costs $105 per couple for the one-way trip from IAH to the Port of Galveston and $190 for the round trip, coming in at almost double the price of the Galveston Limousine shuttle service. From Hobby, the price is $85 one-way and $150 for the roundtrip for two.

The Galveston Shuttle and Limo company offers 14-passenger vans for the trip from IAH to the Port of Galveston for $350 including all taxes and fees, which comes out to about $25 per person each way. From HOU, the trip is a bit cheaper at $320 per van. Sam’s Limousine also offers charter bus rentals for up to 56 passengers for $115 per hour and, for smaller groups, the Mega Shuttle Bus option can carry 32 passengers for $95 per hour as well.The Houston Exotic Car Rental Collection by Enterprise is located at the Houston International Airport and offers exotic cars like BMWs, Cadillacs, Jaguars, Porsches and more. Enterprise has offices near the Port of Galveston so request a one-way trip (which, if allowed, will come with an extra fee) so you can drop it off before your cruise and avoid parking fees while you’re away.

How much of Galveston was destroyed?
The Great Galveston Storm of 1900 Remains Most Deadly Natural Disaster In U.S. The Great Galveston Storm of 1900 destroyed two-thirds of the Texas city and heavily damaged surviving structures.
Rental car prices vary based on the car type, length of rental, your age, your insurance, the company you choose, and about a million other things, so call multiple companies to get quotes before you choose. And, remember that if you plan to keep your car for the duration of your cruise, you’ll need to factor long-term parking fees into your transportation budget as well.If shuttles aren’t really your thing, you can also choose private transport to the Port of Galveston with taxis, rental cars, or ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of all three options below.

For large groups, a van or charter bus rental is the most convenient way to travel between Houston and the cruise terminals and can end up being pretty budget-friendly as well.
This option is often more expensive than the third-party shuttle companies but can be more convenient as well because you don’t have to worry about a late shuttle or no-show causing you to miss your ship’s departure.

The Galveston Express costs $35 for the one-way trip from IAH to the Port of Galveston and $70 to $75 for the roundtrip. From the Hobby airport to the Port of Galveston the trip is $30 one-way and $60 to $65 for the roundtrip. The Galveston Express also gives a $5 discount to seniors and children purchasing roundtrip tickets.
Sam’s Limousine offers both stretch limo and party bus rentals in Houston. A regular stretch limo holds up to 10 people and costs $75 per hour while an SUV limousine can hold up to 16 people and will run you $125 per hour. The party bus and mega party bus options at Sam’s Limousine hold 25 and 36 people respectively and cost $95 and $135 per hour. However, all of these rates are based on a minimum of three hours on Sunday through Thursday, four hours on Fridays, and five hours on Saturdays.Despite the name, Galveston Limousine does offer shuttle services between the airports and the port and even has the cheapest rates of all the companies in this roundup. A trip with Galveston Limousine costs $30 one-way and $50 for the roundtrip between IAH and the Port of Galveston when booked online. Between Hobby and the Port of Galveston, the shuttle is $25 one-way and $40 for the roundtrip per person.

With some cruise lines, you can also skip the third-party shuttle services and book your transport from the Houston airport to the Port of Galveston with the official cruise shuttles via your cruise package.

Are you ready to get started? Keep reading to compare costs, discover exciting new options, and learn exactly how to book the best transportation from Houston to Galveston for you and your crew!
We’ve detected that JavaScript is disabled in this browser. Please enable JavaScript or switch to a supported browser to continue using You can see a list of supported browsers in our Help Center.The first step was the building of the seawall. On September 7, 1901, the Texas State Legislature approved an act providing for the construction of a seawall for Galveston. A board comprised of three engineers, Brigadier General Henry Martyn Robert, Alfred Noble, and H. C. Ripley, organized to draft plans for the future protection of Galveston, including the construction of a seawall and the raising of the city’s elevation. In January 1902, the Board issued its report, calling for the construction of a seawall that ran from the south jetty near 8th street to Avenue D and 6th Street, and westward to 39th Street along the Gulf of Mexico. The Galveston County Commissioners’ Court adopted a resolution on February 5, 1902, that the county would underwrite its construction through the issuance of bonds. On September 19, 1902, J. M. O’Rourke and George Steinmetz signed the construction contract, which provided that the work was to be completed within fifteen months. The initial segment of the Seawall was completed July 29, 1904.

This portion, made of concrete, was 3.3 miles long, 16 feet at its base, and 5 feet wide on top, and 17 feet high. The outer face of the Seawall was curved to carry waves upwards. Riprap was placed along the base facing the Gulf of Mexico to break up wave action. The initial segment was completed at a cost of almost $1.6 million. It proved its worth first during the hurricane of September 21, 1909. Its critical test came with the hurricane of August 16, 1915. The seawall dramatically lowered the loss of life and destruction. The 1900 Storm’s tidal surge inundated Galveston, leaving thousands dead and millions of dollars of destruction and damage. How should the city be protected from future hurricanes? A second segment was built between December 1904 and October 1905 to protect Fort Crockett. It received Congressional funding. This portion ran 4,935 feet from 39th to 53rd streets. The Seawall was extended westward to 61st Street in 1927 and 99th Street in 1963.In 1914, the Houston Ship Channel was deepened, which took much of Galveston’s trade. From 1924 to 1957, until a crackdown by the State Attorney General’s Office, Galveston was primarily known as a wide-open port city where gambling and all sorts of amusements could be found. During World War II, the island had an air base where B-17’s received their final briefing before leaving for the Pacific.

Is Galveston Island man made?
Formation of Galveston Island. Galveston Island is a classic example of a barrier island, a long narrow strip of sand and shell that runs parallel to the shore, separated by a bay or lagoon. Such islands are formed by deposits of sand and shell piled up by ocean waves and long-shore currents.
For additional Galveston Tourism Information, visit the official website of The Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau The Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau.The City of Galveston was chartered in 1839. The role of Galveston as the principal port and gateway to the Southwest during the 19th Century has placed the entire city in a unique position in relation to the history of Texas. The city furnished shipping, goods, money, and transportation necessary to settle the state, nurture its trade, and help accomplish its independence.The boom period of the “Queen City of the Gulf” ended with the great 1900 storm, which killed 6,000 people and left 8,000 homeless. After the storm, the 16-foot-high, 17-foot-wide seawall was begun; the first section was completed in 1904. Behind it, 2,200 structures were raised an average of five feet.In 1836, Michael Menard bought “one league and a labor of land” from the Republic of Texas. He helped organize the Galveston City Company in 1838. From 1840 to 1870, the city was a major immigration port for over a quarter million Europeans. Texas’ secession from the Union and the Civil War halted development temporarily. The mid 1870s to the mid 1890s was the apex of Galveston’s prosperity. The Strand area became the Wall Street of the Southwest. Fortunes were made in cotton, mercantile house, banks, publishing and printing, flour and grain mills, railroads, land development, and shipping. In 1891, the University of Texas Medical Branch was established.In the 1960s and early 1970s, there were forward looking innovations in Galveston. The council-manager form of government was adopted in 1961. The Texas Maritime Academy, Galveston College, and the Marine Biomedical Institute were established. The first container terminal opened in 1972. Rosenberg Library was expanded. The Galveston County Cultural Arts Council was founded. A 40-block residential historical district was established in the east end; the Strand area and a number of notable buildings were placed on the National Register.

The City of Galveston is located on the upper Texas coast of the Gulf of Mexico and occupies virtually all of a 32-mile-long island located approximately 2 miles off the Texas mainland 50 miles southeast of Houston, Texas. Principal economic support is provided by the Port of Galveston and related interest, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and other health institutions, financial institutions, tourism, shrimping, and fishing.
As far as Saltwater Moms go. I’m the kind of person who wants to see operating/incorporation licenses, commercial insurance coverage. All the things a business needs to be in business. No corporate email, no website, no easy to find communication. This screams not paying for stuff you should be paying for, and you won’t find out until you get t-boned on the way to or from wherever you’re going. At that point, you better hope you have travel insurance because they may not. Car insurance is not the same as commercial insurance coverage. I’m more than happy to be proven wrong with documentation and not insults.When we booked our cruise from Galveston I had no idea how hard it would be to figure out transportation from IAH to Galveston. Once I read about the Saltwater Mom’s and contacted them, it was all so easy. Saltwater Mom’s are licensed to enter the Port of Galveston; Uber is not. As a business owner of 20+ years in the tourism business, i have yet to have someone ask for documentation of licenses, insurance, etc. I used them back in August 2021 and have them scheduled again for March 2022. They were wonderful!!! On time, clean vehicles, great communication even when I switched the pick up time last minute. I would highly recommend them without any hesitation.I’m not saying this is the case, but I wouldn’t be surprised if half the reviews are all their neighbors and relatives who are trying to help them and have never used the service.

Did the Galveston Seawall work?
It proved its worth first during the hurricane of September 21, 1909. Its critical test came with the hurricane of August 16, 1915. The seawall dramatically lowered the loss of life and destruction.
We have family that may stay outside of Galveston to save money. Perhaps stay near Texas City. Does Galveston Saltwater moms pick up from there and bring to the port? Or is it better to have a Uber/Lyft pick up the morning of the cruise?Yes, Galveston Saltwater Moms will pick you up from there. Just be sure to contact them ahead of time to get in a reservation. The other thing to mention is it is best to pay cash. They aren’t set up for credit card payments (or at least they weren’t) unless you want to send them payment thru a pay app. You can ask about payment when you make your reservation. Or you can Lyft to the port. There has been an issue sometimes with using Uber.

I agree with you. I’ve used Galveston Saltwater Moms 20 times so far. And have 20 more reservations. I trust them so much more than Uber, Lyft, or a taxi. And yes, they are insured.
We used Saltwater Moms back in September the day before our cruise to get from Hobby to Galveston. We had a great experience and certainly wouldn’t hesitate to use them again. We would have used them to get back to the airport, but they were already booked, so we used Lyft instead. Saltwater Moms service was much better. The Lyft driver obviously didn’t know the port very well. She drove right by us at the Lyft pickup area and had to go back out and come back around again for another 15 minute wait.

GALVESTON SALTWATER MOMS, LLC (Texas Tax ID: 32082690994) was incorporated on 2022-01-13 in Texas. Their business is recorded as TEXAS LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY. The Company’s current operating status is Active
Hands down the best taxi I rode in, in a long time. My friends and I came down to Galveston to finish the summer off before returning back to school. The driver was very helpful with letting us know all the friendly hot spots in Galveston at night, if we didn’t want to stay in the hotel. He was willing to wait outside to make sure the bar was at our standing and just overall very professional/courteous. You don’t meet a lot of taxi drivers like that and you sure won’t meet an Uber driver like that. I recommend them to anyone! I used Jeff’s shuttle for a timed pickup. I was picked up on time. My Chauffeur was very helpful, helped load my luggage and opened my door. My travel experience to the airport was was extremely safe and have fun. I was able to listen to the music I wanted to with no problems. I would definitely use Jeff’s cab in the future! We contacted Jeff’s cabs to transport my mother and mother in law on their way to a cruise. They picked them both up along with their many, many, bags of luggage and got them to their drop off point with no issues. My mom and MIL complemented their driver because he made them feel comfortable. My mother had recently had knee surgery and needed extra help with luggage and her wheel chair and the driver made her feel at ease. They had a wonderful cruise. Thank you Jeff!!This is the version of our website addressed to speakers of English in the United States. If you are a resident of another country or region, please select the appropriate version of Tripadvisor for your country or region in the drop-down menu.

The mission of Island Transit is to build, establish and operate a safe, efficient and effective transportation system that provides mobility for residents and visitors.
Island Transit operates ADA paratransit services, fixed routes, rubber wheel trolley and rail trolley services, providing public transit to more than 12,000 people a month.

but they would not pick us up at the terminal after disembarkation; we used Galveston Limousine’s airport shuttle from the terminal to IAH, twice the cost of uberIf you can get a room Harbor House is the closest Hotel to the terminal and is a short walk away. It is located right on the dock and depending on room you can see cruise dock. It is a small hotel with not many rooms but is very nice.

Many Galveston hotels will transfer you from the Hotel to the terminal for free/cheap in exchange for staying the night. I’ve never needed to do it but have talked to people who have.
We ran into this as well and were fortunate enough to see it in advance and plan to fly into Hobby which has a more direct highway route to the city of Galveston.

Just booked a cruise on Allure for January. Plan on flying into Houston Hobby the day before and just discovered Royal doesn’t have any options to get transportation from a hotel in Houston or Galveston. Has anyone solved this issue? Is there an economical way? We have the transfer for the end of the cruise from them. Does it make sense to go back to the airport on cruise day to use their shuttle? Appreciate any advice. Just booked a cruise on Allure for January. Plan on flying into Houston IAH the day before and just discovered Royal doesn’t have any options to get transportation from a hotel in Houston or Galveston. Has anyone solved this issue? Is there an economical way? We have the transfer for the end of the cruise from them. Does it make sense to go back to the airport on cruise day to use their shuttle? Appreciate any advice. uber did a fantastic job taking us from our hotel near IAH to the cruise terminal on the morning of embarkation, including additional stops at Target and a coffee house, about $75Yeah, unfortunately Houston is far enough away from the port in Galveston that no hotels there find it worth the gas/time to have a shuttle all the way out to the port.

Uber/Lyft is going to be your best option to get from Houston to Galveston (cost us about $50 each way back in 2017) but once you’re in Galveston there are plenty of hotels that will offer you a free shuttle.
The Storm led to the development of the celebrated Seawall and a shift away from being a trade center to an entertainment and gambling hub. A popular haunt was the Balinese Room, a famous nightclub on the pier that hosted some of the biggest names of the era, even Frank Sinatra. It was also an illegal casino that invited much mob activity. Sadly, the structure was destroyed by Hurricane Ike on September 13, 2008.After this, Galveston, being the resilient city that it is, raised most of the island 17 feet to create Seawall Boulevard. It took around eight years to complete the raising of 500 city blocks—all done by hand to prevent damage from future storms. People walked on raised wooden sidewalks during the construction, which also included building 2,000 homes.

Juneteenth is a national holiday that signifies the celebration of the end of slavery for southern slaves in Galveston two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. This historic event holds a special place in the United States and African American history, but the richness of Juneteenth or June 19, 1865 goes well beyond celebrating Emancipation. This moment in time marks the day that Union Army Major General Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3 in Galveston, Texas, announcing the freedom of more than 250,000 enslaved Black people in the state of Texas – one of the last groups of slaves to be freed in the United States.
Galveston has a fascinating and storied past: from devastating storms to civil war battles. Before the 1900 storm, Galveston was the second richest city per capita in the United States and was even dubbed the “Wall Street of the South” due to its flourishing banking industry and the retail success of The Strand. Among many of its Texas “firsts” (there are over 100), it had Texas’ first bank and first post office. Today, Galveston still boasts top schools, historic districts featuring beautifully restored Victorian homes and hotels, and an array of restaurants and activities that attract more than seven million visitors annually. Known as the “Playground of the South” in the late 1800s, Galveston remains an important leisure area today, with Schlitterbahn Waterpark, the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, and Moody Gardens. There’s also tons of culture to take in, including a variety of museums that cater to children and adults alike as well as theatre and live music. And of course, don’t forget the beaches! In 1836, Canadian fur trader Michel B. Menard purchased seven square miles of land, which became the City of Galveston. It was the same year Texas gained independence from Mexico and became a republic. Other great changes followed, business flourished, and Galveston became a major U.S. commercial center and one of the largest ports in the United States; it was second to Ellis Island as an immigration port. By 1885, it was the largest and richest city in Texas.Founded in 1838, Galveston established prosperity through a natural deep-water port, expansion of trade routes throughout the region, and development of industry, such as cotton, in the decades leading up to the Great Storm of 1900. The people of Galveston Island would find themselves as a fundamental piece of the state and region’s growth and diversity, welcoming hundreds of thousands of immigrants worldwide who would settle locally, move regionally, and establish themselves nationally.

What happened in the Galveston Bay?
The “Night of Horrors” September 8, 1900, begins as a 15-foot storm surge rolls across Galveston, Texas, killing over 8,000. Dawn breaks over a grisly scene of bodies in the streets. The Galveston flood is remembered even to this day as the deadliest natural disaster in the history of the United States.
Later visitors included corsairs, like the French Jean Lafitte, who built the small colony of Campeche in 1817. Ever the privateer, he used this as a base to raid Spanish merchant ships that passed through the Gulf. He fled after a decade, burning down the community he built (his treasures are rumored to be buried on the Island).In 1957, the Galveston Historical Foundation sought to preserve local historic buildings and developed the Strand Historic District. Galveston gradually became geared toward family-oriented tourism, which it is to this day.

Galveston got its name from the Spanish Colonial governor, Bernardo de Galvez, who ordered the first survey of the Texas Gulf Coast in 1786. Oddly, de Galvez never stepped foot on the island; it was the surveyor, Jose de Evia, who named Galveston Bay in his honor, which later led to the name of the island.

“Condition of Twenty-First Street.” September 15, 1900. The Houston Daily Post (Houston, TX), Image 3. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.
The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.

The “Night of Horrors” September 8, 1900, begins as a 15-foot storm surge rolls across Galveston, Texas, killing over 8,000. Dawn breaks over a grisly scene of bodies in the streets. The Galveston flood is remembered even to this day as the deadliest natural disaster in the history of the United States. Read more about it!
Terrestrial (land) environments in the Galveston Bay area can be divided into three distinct zones: the coastal prairies, the riverine floodplains and deltas, and the barrier islands.

What happened to the beach in front of a seawall?
Not only do seawalls cause beach loss directly in front of the seawall, but these structures can cause increased erosion in adjacent areas of the beach that do not have seawalls. This phenomenon is caused “flanking erosion” and it takes place at the ends of seawalls.
The most economically important fin fish species to native peoples appears to have been black drum, red drum (redfish), sheepshead, and trout, in about that order. The drum spawn in the cool seasons from fall (redfish) to winter and early spring (black drum) when they are concentrated in the bays and tidal passes. Both species of drum grow quite large, with adults weighing 5-10 pounds and more. The bays support large numbers of waterfowl, particularly in the cooler months when ducks, geese, and cranes migrate from the north. Based on the animal bones found at archeological sites, native peoples in the Galveston Bay area did not depend heavily on waterfowl.Galveston Bay and its associated secondary bays and lagoons comprise an extensive and highly productive estuary environment. It is an example of the kind of low relief, protected estuary systems that are among the most biotically productive environments in the world, rivaled only by tropical rainforests. Galveston Bay waters are shallow and characterized by high photosynthetic primary productivity. In essence, sun + sheltered warm water + nutrients = fertile growth of plants and animals all the way up the food chain, as those who harvest Galveston Bay’s oysters, shrimp, crabs, and fish today can well attest.

The ancient bay was protected by barrier islands and, in the upper (innermost) bay, a productive estuary formed with comparatively brackish water (low salinity) in which certain species of shellfish such as Rangia cuneata clams flourished. As sea level rose during the mid-Holocene, the ancestral bay became larger and more rounded in outline as the adjacent low-lying coastal plains were inundated and wave action “hollowed out” the bay.The prairies are low and flat and have heavy clay soils that originally supported savannas (grasslands with patches of brush and trees) dominated by coastal prairie grasses such as big bluestem and indiangrass. Coastal bluestem grass is more common in sandy areas along the mainline shores. The coastal prairies supported numerous mammals, including four species heavily hunted by native peoples: white-tailed deer, eastern cottontail, jackrabbit, and, sometimes, bison.

How much is a shuttle from Houston to Galveston?
Independent Shuttles from Houston to the Port of Galveston The Galveston Express costs $35 for the one-way trip from IAH to the Port of Galveston and $70 to $75 for the roundtrip. From the Hobby airport to the Port of Galveston the trip is $30 one-way and $60 to $65 for the roundtrip.
As the island formed, the sand piled up in low ridges parallel to the beach in rows separated by swales. This ridge and swale topography can still be seen today in places along Galveston Island, although modern development has obscured or obliterated the patterning in many areas. Early in its existence, the island was narrower and shorter than it is today. At times it would have appeared as a series of disconnected islands separated by storm channels carved out by hurricanes. Through time the island gradually enlarged as waves and long-shore currents deposited more and more sand (mixed with pulverized shell) and the tidal passes and storm-surge channels filled in on the seaward side of the island. Eckert Bayou, along which the Mitchell Ridge site is situated, is thought to have been a tidal pass that was gradually cut off from the sea.[Galveston Island] is a low flat, sandy island about 30 miles in length and ranging in breadth from one to two miles. There is hardly a shrub visible, and in short it looks like a piece of prairie that had quarreled with the mainland and dissolved partnership. – Francis Sheridan, 1839-1840The organic debris and nutrients from the marshes, grasses, and the Trinity and San Jacinto Rivers results in Galveston Bay having the most abundant supply of commercial shellfish on the Texas coast—oysters. Reefs of the American oyster (Crassostrea virginica) are large and abundant in Galveston and East Bays and somewhat less so in West Bay due to higher salinity. They are absent in the upper bays, such as Trinity Bay, because of the influx of freshwater. The brackish water clam, Rangia cuneata, is today found in the uppermost bays and along the lower rivers, streams, and bayous where relatively low salinity predominates. The presence of sizeable shell middens (piles of food debris comprised mainly of discarded shells) throughout the Galveston Bay area shows that native peoples made heavy use of both oyster and rangia. Individual middens are usually dominated by one species or the other, reflecting nearby water conditions at the time of occupation.

The barriers of Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula protect the estuary environment from high energy wave action from the Gulf, and maintain moderate salinities. The shallow bays provide excellent habitat for grass beds and salt marshes. The freshwater rivers and bayous that empty into the bays bring nutrients and organic material and support brackish marshes. The wetland marshes and grass beds serve as nursery areas for primary consumers, such as shrimp, crabs, and mollusks. These creatures in turn support a range of secondary consumers such as fin fish, including the species which were used most heavily by native peoples such as black and red drum.
The floodplains of the major streams such as the San Jacinto and Trinity Rivers are biotically rich and diverse. River valleys support dense woodlands and forests of water oak, cedar elm, and sugarberry (commonly called hackberry). Oak-pine forests are found on higher terraces. The low-lying floodplains are lined with rushes, cattails, and willows. Swampy areas support bald cypress and palmetto palm. The riverine floodplains and deltas support all sorts of animals from deer to river otters to alligators to freshwater and brackish water fishes and shellfish.

Measured in geological time, Galveston Island is a very young landform that had not yet begun to form as recently as 6,000 years ago, during the mid-Holocene geological period. As compared to today, 8,000 years ago sea level was considerably lower by perhaps 5-10 meters (16-33′). At this time the Texas coastline and earlier barrier islands were considerably farther out into the Gulf by an estimated 55 kilometers (34 miles) at the west end of Galveston Island. An ancestral Galveston Bay existed as a much narrower and deeper feature that formed as sea level climbed in the early Holocene and flooded the deeply incised valleys of the Trinity and San Jacinto Rivers.Galveston Island is a classic example of a barrier island, a long narrow strip of sand and shell that runs parallel to the shore, separated by a bay or lagoon. Such islands are formed by deposits of sand and shell piled up by ocean waves and long-shore currents.

Is Galveston beach Natural?
Gulf Beach in Galveston Island State Park. Points of interest: Relatively natural beach with dune enhancement using sand fencing.
By 3000 years ago the sea reached its modern level. By 2000 years ago the higher sand ridges that form the core of Galveston Island were no longer being penetrated by storm surges. The island built seaward (“prograded”) and sand dunes formed behind the beach (or “shoreface”) as the predominant easterly-to-southerly winds reworked the piled-up ridge sand. Grasses and other plants spread and stabilized the most of the surface of the island. The Galveston Bay system was fully formed and had moderate-salinity shallow waters well-suited to oysters, which remain the dominant shell species today in most of the local waters.About 2,000 years ago Galveston Island began to attract people. The inland shores of Galveston Bay, especially at the mouths of rivers and bayous, had been fairly heavily occupied earlier, in Late Archaic (or Early Ceramic) times by about 3,000 years ago. While it is likely that people began visiting the still-forming island early on, they do not seem to have left substantive evidence of occupation. It wasn’t until after 2,000 years ago that people began leaving definitive traces of the sustained occupation of Galveston Island.

What is the history of Galveston Bay?
In 1822, Galveston Bay was a focus for Anglo American settlement under colonies established by Stephen F. Austin. For the first time, the Bay became a main conduit for water transportation to trade goods as steamboats began to serve Galveston Bay.
Around 5000 years ago, Galveston Island began forming as wave action, particularly that generated by high-energy storm surges (such those as caused by hurricanes), pushed back the bay shoreline, destroyed and reworked the ancient barrier islands, and piled up sandy deposits along the coastline and across the mouths of the bays. The newly piled-up sand and shell hash deposits (“wash-over fans”) gradually built up seaward and protruded above the water, forming an island behind which was an early version of today’s West Bay. The developing Galveston Bay system was connected to the sea through numerous tidal passes and was deeper and saltier than the modern bay, meaning that it was more suitable for lightning whelk (Busycon perversum pulleyi) and other shells that prefer moderate to high salinity.

Early 19th century visitors found Galveston Island to be teeming with life. Relatively few mammals inhabited the island, the most common being the hispid cotton rat, but deer were also present in periods between major hurricanes. Freshwater and brackish ponds formed in the mid-island swales and were lined by cattails and marsh grasses. These held frogs, crabs, turtles, water moccasins, and alligators. The ponds allowed dense clouds of mosquitoes to form in warm, wet weather. Amid the thick grasses were many snakes including rattlesnakes.Until modern times, the barrier islands (including Bolivar Peninsula, which although connected to the mainland, is effectively a barrier island) were essentially treeless, except for small mottes of live oak and clumps of mesquite scattered along the higher ridges. Most trees were typically swept away during major hurricanes. The few spots with prominent trees served as navigation markers. Most vegetation consisted of salt-tolerant grasses such as cordgrass and glasswort.

Archeological and ethnohistorical evidence shows that the native peoples who buried their dead at Mitchell Ridge had a mobile lifestyle and probably lived on Galveston Island only during certain seasons of the year. Within a few hours travel by canoe and foot, however, they had access to contrasting environments and diverse resources from the bays, marshes, rivers, and prairies.
You can get there by driving across either the I-45 bridge that connects the mainland with the island or the bridge spanning San Luis Pass on the west end of the island or by taking the ferry from Bolivar Peninsula. The ferry is free and is operated by the Texas Department of Transportation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A. Waves and currents swept sand into ridges that eventually merged and became Galveston Island. Today you can see these early ridges and swales between the ridges on the back side of the island. Large storms cut channels across the early island and deposited sand on the island’s bay side. Sand was added to the Gulf side of the island, creating a series of ridges and swales as the supply of sand changed through time. A. Geologists have drilled holes in the island and dated sea shells to determine that Galveston Island began to form about 5,300 years ago, when the rise in sea level from the melting of ice from the last Ice Age began to slow down.

The objective of this activity is to introduce basic terminology used in reference to periodic waves and to provide an understanding of how wind energy is transferred into wave energy. This activity also introduces the effects of water depth on waves.
Southwest end of the Galveston Island Seawall looking toward the southwest. In the early 1970’s cars could drive off this ramp onto the beach. Also note the lack of a beach seaward of the wall. 4. Using a stopwatch, measure the wave period. Make a mark on the side of the pan with the marker or a piece of tape. As the crest of a wave passes the mark, count that as zero and start your stopwatch. The next wave is wave number one. When the 10th wave passes your point, stop the watch. Divide the number of seconds by 10 to get the wave period. Because these are waves with small wavelengths, this task may be difficult to do. Fill a shallow, clear container 1/3 to 1/2 full of water. Waves can be created by several different methods including moving a thin board back and forth like a paddle. Place a float in the middle of the pan and observe how it responds to the waves you create. Quickly dip a piece of construction paper into the tank to create a snapshot of the wavefield.When waves strike the beach, sand may move onshore, offshore, or along the beach. If waves hit the beach at an angle, which is almost always the case, then sand will move along the beach. On any given day, the direction on the beach along which the sand moves depends on the direction of the waves. Along Galveston Island, sand can move in either direction, but averaged over the span of a year or more, more sand is moved in one direction than in another. 2. Create waves by one of the following processes: (a) blow across the surface of the water; (b) use a hair dryer set at a low setting (harder to vary the velocity) to blow across the surface of the water; (c) use a block of wood tied to a piece of string, and raise it up and down in the water; or (d) insert a thin board into the water and move it back and forth like a paddle. If you are using a hair dryer: BE CAREFUL NOT TO GET THE HAIR DRYER WET OR RISK ELECTRIC SHOCK!! 3. Place a float (cork) in the middle of the pan. Observe how the float responds to the waves you are creating. Try to keep the wave period consistent.The ongoing processes of wind, waves, and currents sort the sediment making up the island. Little mud is deposited on the high-energy Gulf of Mexico side because it is washed away by waves. To find deposits of mud you need to go to the bay side of the island, especially in the marshy areas. This is where mud is produced by decaying vegetation and where some of the mud moving down the rivers and creeks of the bay is trapped. The marsh vegetation and relatively sheltered locations allow the deposition of mud. In many places on the bay side, however, the marsh may have a shelly beach on the fringe, where bay waves are eroding the marsh and concentrating oyster shells. Also, near San Luis Pass, strong tidal currents transport sand along the bay-side shoreline.

Sand and shelly gravel are found on the Gulf beaches and the island’s interior, which is mostly sand because of the way the island advanced seaward after it formed. So as you walk landward from the Gulf beach, you are walking across earlier beach deposits. Most of the sediment on the beach and in the dunes is quartz sand that was eroded from the continent. Whole shells and shell fragments made of calcium carbonate add to the variable texture of the sediment, and small amounts of black, heavy minerals and organic matter add color. Wind and waves sort the sediment according to how easily it is transported. Wind preferentially transports small, light grains, so the sand in the dunes is relatively fine-grained and well-sorted quartz. Compared with dune sand, sand and shelly gravel moved by waves on the beach is coarser grained and more poorly sorted because waves can move all grain sizes.
Galveston Island is a sandy barrier island located 50 miles southeast of Houston. The island, 30 miles long and up to 3 miles wide, separates the Gulf of Mexico from West Bay, which is part of the Galveston Bay system. It lies at the eastern end of a nearly continuous chain of barrier islands that extends more than 600 miles along the Texas and Mexican coasts.Destruction of geotextile tubes protecting houses on Follets Island adjacent to San Luis Pass (Treasure Island Subdivision). Photo is looking to the northeast toward San Luis Pass. The tube was installed March 2000.Northeast end of the Galveston Island Seawall looking toward the southwest. In contrast to the southwest end of the Seawall, land has accreted seaward (to the left) of the Seawall since the early 20th century.

Why is Galveston so important?
The City of Galveston was chartered in 1839. The role of Galveston as the principal port and gateway to the Southwest during the 19th Century has placed the entire city in a unique position in relation to the history of Texas.
Can you tell by looking at the photograph and visiting the beach which direction the sand is moving along the beach in the long term? Is this direction the same along the entire island? What do your observations say about the direction of waves?

Because of its strategic location, Galveston Island—inhabited since the 1500s—has played a key role in Texas history. The island was home to many famous people of history, including Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca and pirate Jean Lafitte. The greatest natural disaster in U.S. history occurred on Galveston Island in 1900 when a large hurricane devastated the island and killed more than 6,000 people. For more on the history of Galveston Island, click here.

Exposed geotextile tube protecting houses in the Pirates Beach Subdivision along West Beach of Galveston Island. This project is 1.56 miles in length and was installed in 1999. Photo taken January 26, 2005.
A. Galveston Island is constantly changing—sometimes suddenly and dramatically as during a hurricane. There are many other sources of change on the island:Points of interest: Bolivar Roads Ship Channel, Galveston Jetties, Big Reef Nature Park, Fort San Jacinto, Bolivar Lighthouse, and Galveston—Port Bolivar Ferry Operation.Digging a pit in the beach reveals fine laminations created by waves sorting the sediment on a small scale. In some pits, you may see coarse, shelly or heavy, dark mineral layers deposited by storms. See the two examples above. Outbound ship moving through the Galveston Harbor Channel. Photo is taken from the northeast end of the Galveston Island Seawall. Bolivar Peninsula is in the background, and the black Point Bolivar Lighthouse, first lit in 1872, is visible just in front of the ship. This 40-feet-deep, dredged channel provides deep-draft access to the ports of Houston, Galveston, and Texas City. The port of Houston is first in the United States in foreign waterborne commerce, second in total tonnage, and sixth in the world. Points of interest: Attempt at using geotextile tubes to protect houses from shoreline retreat and storm surge. Contrast this beach with the beaches at the State Park (stop 5) and Bermuda Beach (stop 3).Galveston Island State Park terrace-style marsh restoration project completed in 2000. These terraces were created by dredging bay sediments and forming berms with intertidal elevations. The berms were then planted with marsh plants by hand. Photo taken August 21, 2002.

Why is Galveston so famous?
Galveston has a fascinating and storied past: from devastating storms to civil war battles. Before the 1900 storm, Galveston was the second richest city per capita in the United States and was even dubbed the “Wall Street of the South” due to its flourishing banking industry and the retail success of The Strand.
If you want to see rock formations, don’t go to Galveston Island. However, if you would like to see the first stages of how some sedimentary rocks are formed, then Galveston Island is the place to be. Galveston Island is known as a sandy barrier island because it is made up mostly of sand-sized particles, with lesser amounts of finer mud- and larger gravel-sized sediments. Three main sources of sediment compose the island (1) inorganic mud and sand eroded from the continent and transported by rivers to the coast, (2) organic mud resulting from decaying vegetation and animals, and (3) sand and gravel from shells.5. Dip a piece of construction paper into the water along the side of the pan and remove immediately. You have created a snapshot of the wavefield. Lay the paper on the desk and with a marker trace the contact between the wet and dry paper. Either now or once the paper has dried, measure wave height and wavelength.

CAUTION: Please note that electricity is involved in this activity and proper adult supervision should be present. Participants can become actively involved once the electrical portion of the experiment is completed.
The formation of Galveston Island has created a variety of natural environments important to Texans today, both on the island and in the sheltered, lower-energy area called Galveston Bay that sits behind the island. In Galveston Bay, marshes, tidal flats, and seagrass beds serve as a nursery for many aquatic species, including shrimp.

7. Remove the water from the pan. Now mold some clay to represent depth changes in the ocean floor. Try something simple like a wedge to represent the continental margin. Place the clay into one end of the pan. If you have access to sand, dirt, or gravel, you may want to use that instead. Create a beach face at one end of the pan. Repeat steps 3–5.
This is an excerpt of an article written by Galveston Bay Foundation’s Vice President of Operations that appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of Houston History magazine. To view the full article with references, please visit the Houston History Magazine’s website.In the early 1900s, the petroleum era in Galveston Bay was born on the shores of Tabbs Bay. The first oil refinery was constructed on Goose Creek in 1919, by the Humble Oil Company (later Exxon). They named the landing Baytown, and built the refinery and a town for employees west of Goose Creek. Industrialization continued in the Galveston Bay area, with various oil and chemical companies attracted to the area for its deep water channels and ports, wide open spaces, underground sources of fresh water, and general lack of regulations. Demand for more and larger barge access resulted in the deepening (and widening) of the Houston Ship Channel to 34 feet in the 1930s, to 36 feet in the 1940s, and to 40 feet in the 1950s. Presently, the Houston Ship Channel is a 52-mile long channel dredged to 45 feet deep.

Railroad building in other parts of Texas elevated the populations of Dallas and San Antonio, which soon bypassed Galveston. Plans for a Houston Ship Channel were in play, however, which would soon prove to end any commercial rivalry that existed between Houston and Galveston and solidify Houston’s fate as a major port city and the state’s most populous city.
Beginning in about 1910, the public began to be aware of a “polluted” Galveston Bay. They noted oily water and declines in fishing and began to blame the industries. Two major projects that had the potential to have massive impacts to the Bay began their planning stages in the 1950s and 1960s. The first was the Wallisville Lake Project, a plan to dam the lower Trinity River south of Wallisville, and the second was the next phase of deepening and widening the Houston Ship Channel. Both projects were subject to the new review processes put in place by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. In accordance with the new policy, the Corps of Engineers had to put together environmental impact statements (EIS) for these projects. Both projects met much opposition from the public, including fishermen and shrimpers, landowners, and other citizens of the Bay area. In fact, it was from the gathering and discussions of such concerned citizens that the Galveston Bay Foundation was born. In 1987, forty individuals became the charter members and incorporators of the Galveston Bay Foundation, a new environmental nonprofit corporation focused on the interests of Galveston Bay.

The Galveston Bay of today looks radically different than it did when it first formed 5,000 years ago. As the last Ice Age came to an end over 18,000 years ago, the Earth warmed, the Pleistocene mammals that roamed the area became extinct, ice sheets withdrew, sea levels rose, and the shoreline moved to near-present locations. The longshore currents along the new shoreline deposited sediments, eventually creating the sandbar we now know as Galveston Island about 5,000 years ago and Bolivar Peninsula about 2,500 years ago. Behind these barriers, Galveston Bay was formed.
Though Spain laid claim to the Western Hemisphere by right of Columbus’s’ voyages, it was not long before it had to defend its claimed territories from other Europeans, namely the French, in the 1600s and 1700s. Both Spanish and French explorers made efforts to map the Bay. The earliest known map of Galveston Bay is the French map produced by La Harpe in 1721. In 1783, the Spanish Governor of Louisiana, Bernardo de Galvez, commissioned Jose Antonio Evia to survey the entire Gulf coast.The great hurricane of 1900, which devastated Galveston and killed an estimated 6,000 people, resulted in many Galveston businesses relocating inland. The Houston Ship Channel project created an 18-foot channel and a turning basin by 1908, but the ever-present need for bigger and deeper won out, and by 1914, the Houston Ship Channel was deepened to 25 feet deep. Concurrently, Texas City created a 25-foot channel into its new port and an extensive dike into the Bay to protect its new channel. The Texas City dike would later prove to have significant impacts to the ecology of West Bay. In fact, this was the theme of the era—manipulation of the natural features of Galveston Bay to rapidly develop and protect transportation channels to benefit the economy.With the arrival of European and Anglo American privateers, adventurers, and filibusters in the early 1800s, the annual visits by native, nomadic tribes greatly declined. The privateer Jean Lafitte arrived in Galveston from New Orleans around 1817 and set up a settlement called Campeachy. The hurricane of 1818 destroyed this settlement, and Lafitte was gone by 1820. In 1822, Galveston Bay was a focus for Anglo American settlement under colonies established by Stephen F. Austin. For the first time, the Bay became a main conduit for water transportation to trade goods as steamboats began to serve Galveston Bay. New colonists established settlements such as that of Harrisburg, landings such as that at Morgan’s Point, and Lynch’s ferry. The convenient locations of Houston and Galveston led them to rise to prominence as important Texas cities in 1836 and 1837.

It was around this time in history that the use of the newly named Galveston Bay began to transition from that of a food source to that of a place of settlement and colonization.
Evia named both a bay and an island on the upper Texas coast for his patron, Galvez. The 1799 map produced as a result of Evia’s surveys and notes show for the first time the label of “Galveston Bay.”The Galveston Bay area played an integral part in Texas’s independence from Mexico. The deciding battle was fought at the confluence of the San Jacinto River and Buffalo Bayou, at what is now known as the San Jacinto Battleground. Nine years after winning its independence from Mexico, Texas was annexed to the United States in 1845. This was a prosperous time for the Bay area, with the importance of the maritime industry reflected in Galveston being identified by the
1850 U.S. Census as the largest town in Texas with 4,177 people. Galveston Bay’s main function at this time was that of a transportation system, and many navigational improvements were made to the Bay, including updated charts, the deepening and straightening of Buffalo Bayou, a lightship, lighted beacons, and eventually the Bolivar Point lighthouse.