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Changing of an Era
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3100 Federal Rd.
The ship channel undoubtedly transformed this city into the petrochemical juggernaught it is today. There was once another tunnel under it, but it's been replaced with a magnificent cable-stayed suspension bridge.
This article has been viewed 29237 times in the last 12 years
Sandy: 28th Jul 2005 - 11:47 GMT
I remember going to and from work each day and praying there wasn't an accident or stalled car inside the tunnel.
Chet Cuccia: 19th Jan 2007 - 00:03 GMT
I never been through this tunnel, but the inside looks just like the old Baytown-LaPorte Tunnel.
Rudy: 30th Jul 2007 - 14:46 GMT
Built in 1950, The Washburn Tunnel is the only operational underwater vehicle tunnel in the state of Texas. The Baytown Tunnel was demolished several years ago for the construction of the Fred Hartman Bridge (SH 146) in Baytown. As of Feb. 1, 2007, cameras are being used to monitor traffic use in the tunnel for possible structure changes that may need to be made in the future because of its age.
Rudy: 30th Jul 2007 - 14:50 GMT
By the way, I have lived only 5 miles from this tunnel for 38 years, and it still gives me chills to drive through it. Not because of fear, but because it's amazed me that such a tunnel of its age could still be fully operational. It's a short drive through it, but always an amazing experience!
PJ Rock: 30th Aug 2007 - 02:35 GMT
I drive through this tunnel every day, every week! Awesome marvel!
Craig: 15th Sep 2007 - 03:07 GMT
I had a motorcycle wreck in 1980 coming out of the south side of the tunnel.
mario de j,: 1st Oct 2007 - 01:38 GMT
I go thru the tunnel to work 2 times a day,and before i go across I pray to God nothing bad happen.It is narrow and old.It needs to be replace for an update and new structure before something bad happen!
Liz October 27th 2007: 27th Oct 2007 - 19:48 GMT
I kive a good 15 minutes from the tunnel and have been going through through the tunnel all my life. As a child we went through it every Sunday to see my grandparentsand it is still awesome.
Galen J: 14th Nov 2007 - 02:11 GMT
I drove through this tunnel hundreds of times beginning in the mid 1950's. It always amazed me how AM radio stations would immediately go off once you hit the entrance. Driving a motorcycle through it in the 60's was indeed a challenge. You had to drive down right or left side of the lane. If traffic stopped and you were at the bottom, the car fumes in those days were terrible. Washburn tunnel = good memories.
Jane Biggers: 31st Dec 2007 - 21:15 GMT
I will never forget this tunnel when going thru it to my visit my brother and his family for years. I was in awe and yet it held an unknown terror of mystery within its enclosure, and I prayed no wreck or engine failure would occur while in it or to happen up on another misfortune within the tunnell's tomb....
anon (adsl-70-248-238-43.dsl.hstntx.sbcglobal.net): 24th Jan 2008 - 20:42 GMT
I was born in Houston, Texas in 1952 and growing up I would ride with my grandfather to take my grandmother to work through the Washburn Tunnel. But I never knew it was under water until I spoke to my mom who now lives in Arizona. I was shocked. If I had known this when I had to take my grandson to a football training camp this past summer, I don't think I would have gone through it. Its a scary but fasinating thought. It makes me think of how Moses parted the red sea. I am a part of history!
L.Barry: 26th Feb 2008 - 01:26 GMT
I have drove through it many of times because it was a handy route to go instead of the Ship Channel Bridge. It was far better than that Dark and dingy old Baytown tunnel which I always hated to drive through it. Thank Goodness they replaced it with that bridge.It took them long enough waiting for that South African steel to arrive, them were the days.
Rudy: 19th Mar 2008 - 17:55 GMT
FROM THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE - March 18, 2008:
Diane Ferguson: 28th Apr 2008 - 14:49 GMT
I haven't driven or riden through the tunnel in many many years, First went through it as a child of 4 yrs. right after it was opened... I was in awe each time we went though it. Mom would tell us how much water was above us...
Jesse RED D ARC: 25th Sep 2008 - 17:14 GMT
TUNNEL CLOSED BK OF HURRICANE (IKE). HOPE IT RE-OPENS DRIVEN DAILY FOR THE LAST 10 YEARS.
Gail Miller : 26th Sep 2008 - 18:23 GMT
Hi, I oversee the tunnel and the ferry for Commissioner Garcia and we look forward to opening the tunnel back up asap. We are cleaning debris and checking the electricals and moving as quick and safely as possible. The Tunnel just went on the National Register this year and we are very proud of it.
Michelle: 2nd Oct 2008 - 21:14 GMT
Does any one know if the tunnel is open yet. Or When it will reopen.
Rudy: 5th Oct 2008 - 17:45 GMT
If anyone would like to read a short notice about the closing of the Washburn Tunnel and a photo of what the tunnel looked like with the water coming up to one of the entrances, go to this page:
Rudy: 7th Oct 2008 - 19:02 GMT
As of this posting, no other information is known to the schedule for when the tunnel will be re-opened. I phoned the commissioner's office that handles the tunnel operations and she told me that no exact date has been established because repairs are still on-going. She informed me to watch the news later this week or into next week and if they do schedule a reopening date, the media will report the information to the public. But I do know the hassle of it being closed, because I have to go over the Ship Channel Bridge to 225 just to get to somewhere just on the other side of the tunnel. Normally it's only about 5 miles...now my trip is about 8 to 10. So stay tuned to the media for updates, or I will post it here when I find out! Until then, remember the jokes that would go around after a heavy rain..about "the tunnel being underwater"? It's no joke now! :P
Rudy: 25th Oct 2008 - 03:55 GMT
Just to let everyone know, the Washburn Tunnel will be opening up tomorrow, October 25, at 5:30 AM!! YAY! So now you don't have to take the long way around. I'm glad to see it open back up, and I am happy to know that it was not ruined beyond repair. All the electrical wiring has been replaced, and the surveillance cameras have been repaired, and the entire tunnel has been cleaned of all debris. Good luck to everyone, and happy traveling through the Washburn Tunnel once again!
james: 3rd Nov 2008 - 04:32 GMT
wish you could actually see the water that was over your head!!!! Then that would make the ride even better :))
James Kingsmill: 8th Dec 2008 - 18:59 GMT
Built in 1950, The Washburn Tunnel is the only operational underwater vehicle tunnel in the state of Texas. The Baytown Tunnel was demolished several years ago for the construction of the Fred Hartman Bridge (SH 146)
The tunnel was demolished AFTER the Fred Hartman Bridge openened.
Manuel: 8th Dec 2008 - 20:07 GMT
I am the only person (AFAIK) who was actually born inside the tunnel. Thats right, January 3, 1966... when my parents got caught in traffic due to a road repair on the way to the hospital. If anyone can beat that, let me know, but I think I hold the title of Only Person Ever Birthed in the Washburn Tunnel.
Patrick: 9th Feb 2009 - 05:28 GMT
I am about to do a 67 mile bike ride next week from Kingwood to Galveston that will take me through the tunnel...if you hear about a cyclist that got turned into a red smear on the tiles, I'm your man :P
Rudy: 25th Feb 2009 - 23:06 GMT
Because the Washburn Tunnel is very narrow, they will not allow pedestrians or bicyclist to make their way through the tunnel. If you're a walker, you will have to "thumb" a ride in someone's car. If you are a bicyclist, you will have to do the same, but get a truck so you can toss your bike in the back. One other rule for inside the tunnel is to NOT honk your horn if it's not necessary. The vibrations from the horn sound can damage the tiles inside. I don't see how they can make this a rule, when you already have massive noise from vehicle traffic. They used to have a rule to turn your lights off as you go through to avoid blinding oncoming drivers, however because of the growing number of vehicles that now have the "daytime" running lights, they threw this rule out. Good luck on your bike ride...but...you may have to try out your strength by riding up the Houston Ship Channel Bridge if you can't go through the tunnel! (Eat a good breakfast that morning!! HAHA)
Dick from Frogholler Iowa: 28th Jun 2009 - 17:10 GMT
I have driven through the baytown tunnel many times from 1964 to 1993. We lived in League City. We watched the new bridge being constructed. My son and I would walk up to the end during construction on a weekend and sit on the end and let our legs dangle over the ship channel. I have vidoes of being there then. The two towers were over 400 feet high I believe. I wanted so bad to see the bridge finnished but retired from NASA in 1993 and returned to Iowa. But I got to see the approaches built right up to the ship channel. I always wondered how they removed the tunnel and would liked to have seen that. I had an idea of how to do that. Seal both ends water tight. Fill the tunnel with ping-pong balls which would make it float. Then tow it out to deep water and sink it.
Mrs. Robinson: 31st Jul 2009 - 15:23 GMT
I remember traveling through a tunnel at night with two lanes each direction back in the late 80's on a motorcycle wiht my brother over to the Hobby Airport area to see a friend. Then about a month ago a friend directed me that away to Pasadena in my van and I must confess that was the scariest moment to me. I had never drove that away alone. I am just glad it was daylight at the end of the tunnel. (:-).
Annette: 4th Sep 2009 - 04:37 GMT
I remember being very pregnant with my daughter in March of 1972. I would be traveling from Channelview to Pasadena to the hospital for her birth. I heard that the tunnel would be closed for cleaning at midnight on March 14th and hoped I didn't go into labor that night. Sure enough I did and my husband and I got to the tunnel and a police officer had to escourt us through.
Gorman: 10th Dec 2009 - 13:42 GMT
I remember going though a tunnel with my parents, while riding in the back seat of our 1953 Ford, back in the 1950s - somewhere around Houston on the way from Victoria to Gilmer. This must be the tunnel. I have lived in Houston for 30 years, but have not went to see the tunnel in all that time. I might finally do it. Memories...
Billy: 6th Mar 2010 - 19:43 GMT
I'm doing an audio CD on near misses that I have had, and had one coming out of the south side of this tunnel one early morning. Thanks for posting the picture. I may use it in a cd and insert cover when I finish this audio.
anon (208-180-215-161-tylr.tex.sta.suddenlink.net): 23rd Aug 2010 - 18:12 GMT
My husband and I drove home from kema last week and decided to let the gps guide us and take us where it may.... it led us to the tunnel. we had no idea it existed! What a beautiful peice of construction, we got home and we googled it, and it brought us to this link! Next time we go driving, I will definitly pass that way again!!
TxRancher: 23rd Aug 2010 - 20:14 GMT
If you liked Washburn Tunnel, check out the Lynchburg Ferry (http://www.co.harris.tx.us/comm_garcia/lynchburgferry.aspx) & the free Houston Ship Channel tour (http://www.portofhouston.com/samhou/samhou.html).
Dimitri: 10th Dec 2010 - 03:19 GMT
I first heard of this tunnel when it closed for Ike, from that day forward I said I wanted to see it. So I typed it into my GPS and found it, I must say this was one of the greatest experiences I've had in my life. Although a short trip it really amazed me to know that I was underwater, it also amazed me that engineering this advanced existed 50 years ago. I work in the testing area of construction and would love to take a tour on the top side of the tunnel just to put it all into perspective , as far as how many cubic yards did it take,man hours, and of course just how far underwater do you actually go!!!!!!!!!!!
George 1/29/11: 30th Jan 2011 - 07:01 GMT
I talked my dad into going to the Dayton Drag Strip in the mid-1960's. Pop thought it was foolishish to tear up cars. A local kid had a hot rod 1955 Ford that burst a radiator at the strip. Pop offered to chain pull him back to Pasadena behind his 1948 Imperial with. When we got to the tunnel they did not allow cars being pulled with a chain. The guard asked if the Ford would run enough to drive through under its own power. The Ford had no exhaust as it was a race car. The kid told the guard it ran but was loud. The guard said he did not care how much noise he made...just get through as fast as he could. The kid made about a 100 mph pass without exhaust through the tunnel. My hearing has not been the same since.
Scott Cox: 20th May 2011 - 18:28 GMT
lived in galena park for 51 years...been in and out of this tunnel a thousand times and hope for another 51 years of service for this icon of our little neck of the woods...it gives some folks the willies when entering the mouth of the ''beast''...and yes it was an adventure driving a motorcycle or any other motorized vehicle in and out when it was paved with coble stones...hope to have it refurbished rather than tore down...we need this access to our homes and businesses as well as traffic control
Jeff Murphy: 15th Jul 2011 - 02:35 GMT
I went through the time lasting tunnel tonight. I have been through it hundreds of times but this was the first time in probably 25 years. It's still an awesome model of engineering. It did seem dryer than before. I remember always seeing puddles I assumed were leaks....
Mark Woody: 30th Sep 2011 - 00:18 GMT
I've been a lifetime Pasadena Resident, and have passed through the tunnel many, many times.At 57 now, I'm doubting I may want to ever again after today (Sept.29th,2011). South bound from Houston, as I enetered, I noticed the yellow flashing lights, and the warning sign stating "Splippery When Wet". It was storming and after months of drought, I had enough sense to SLOW DOWN and stay my distance from the lead car. Half way through the tunnel I noticed a 5 car pile-up on the Northbound side and slowed to 5 MPH.Then I heard (sounded like bombs going-off) one after another after another...etc...Boom..Boom..Boom...At least 15 cars had rear-ended each other. 2 Lanes of 2 way traffic. I was so glad I wasnt part of this clostorphobic accident! And all because of water and oil on the road don't mix with car tires.Maybe they should change this antique design and keep people safer?
jeannie brewer pearson: 27th Feb 2012 - 15:11 GMT
when i was a little girl my daddy had 3 flats when we drove threw the tunnel. latter on i moved to gal. i loved the tunnel it was beautiful a great work of a bulding.
Sherry Baldwin Janetzke: 12th Mar 2012 - 20:51 GMT
Two of my favorite childhood memories, the Washburn Tunnel and the Lynchburg Ferry. I was born in Goosecreek, Texas and lived in Channelview for many years, then to Pasadena where my father worked at Ethyl Corporation. When we lived in Channelview several of my uncles and my father worked on the Lynchburg Ferry and on Sundays all us kids would ride back and forth on the ferry. We actually walked through the Washburn tunnel when it first opened up and to this day when I visit the area I always make a run from Houston through Pasadena and the Washburn Tunnel to Channelview and on to the Lynchburg Ferry to the San Jacinto Monument and back home. My roots are there and will always be there.
anon (126.96.36.199): 13th Mar 2012 - 20:41 GMT
I remembr when the tunnel was first opened and my mom and dad drove us thru it. At that time it was scary to me and I still remember it leaking/dripping from the celing. Those were the uglest tiles I've ever seen. Have to admit they did a good job on it though since it still operationals an handles a considerable amount of traffic daily.
Nancy Harty: 4th Apr 2012 - 03:45 GMT
We used to make my Gran nervous by singing London Bridge when going thru it. lol
Cecil: 8th Jun 2012 - 01:12 GMT
I was at the grand opening ....April or May 1950 I was 6 yrs. old....
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