Captain Clyde A. Barbour was posthumously inducted into the Texas Transportation Hall of Honor at a luncheon on June 26 at Sylvan Beach Pavilion in La Porte, Texas, near his namesake facilities: Barbours Cut inlet and Barbours Terminal at Port Houston. He was nominated by his great-granddaughter, Nancy Potter, who accepted the honor on Barbour’s behalf.
A young and ambitious steamboat captain and resident of Houston for 20 years in the early 1900s, Barbour recognized the potential for expanding waterborne commerce in the Houston Ship Channel. He envisioned and undertook a bold endeavor to cut the five-hour trip in half for ships traveling from the Gulf of Mexico to Port Houston. He accomplished this by dredging an inlet that included a turning basin off the Houston Ship Channel only two and a half hours from the Gulf of Mexico. He named the inlet and terminal Barbours Cut and Barbours Terminal, respectively.
His ambitious project catapulted Port Houston to the forefront of container activity in the Gulf Coast and helped transform the port into the fastest growing container port in the United States and the first in overall tonnage.
Barbour also owned the Galveston, Harrisburg and Houston Transportation Company, as well as other companies, and was awarded the contract in 1910 to supply concrete for the first great causeway over Galveston Bay between Galveston Island and the mainland. This contract helped to make building materials one of the largest branches of trade in Houston.
About 60 guests were welcomed to the event by Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) Agency Director Greg Winfree, who provided background on the Hall of Honor, which was established in 2000, and announced that Barbour would be the 50th inductee. Speakers at the ceremony who discussed Barbour’s contributions to the port were Port Houston Commissioner Clyde Fitzgerald and Port Houston Executive Director Roger Guenther.
“Mr. Barbour’s legacy lives on today as this 300-acre terminal continues to grow and develop in Galveston Bay,” said Guenther.
Fitzgerald alluded to the local jobs provided by the terminal activity, and said that Barbours Cut changed the way shipping was done at Port Houston and beyond.
In receiving the honor on Barbour’s behalf, Potter said, “I can’t help but be proud to call this man my great-grandfather. His unwavering spirit, entrepreneurial acumen and groundbreaking achievements have left an indelible mark on the transportation industry and continue to shape its trajectory to this day.”
Potter has written a novel about her great-grandfather entitled, Barbours Cut, which is scheduled for release in September.
Overseen by a five-member board comprised of senior transportation professionals, the Texas Transportation Hall of Honor, located at TTI, provides the opportunity each year to recognize exceptional transportation leaders and their significant contributions to the state. Each individual is recognized by a plaque on permanent display in the Hall of Honor at TTI’s Headquarters in Bryan, Texas.