A Trip to Texas City without Birds

A Trip to Texas City without Birds

One of my favorite birding places as you know is the Texas City Dike, but there are a lot more things to photograph in the area besides birds. I showed you some Huge Ships a while back, but here is another look at this quirky city.

You probably know the story about the Texas City explosion and devastation in 1947. If not, this article is worth a read. Perhaps because of that event, there aren't many old, historical buildings even around the downtown. I have looked for maps delineating the extent of damage to the town, but haven't found any. There is a park called Heritage Square, but I suspect some of the houses were moved there for safe keeping.

And the tree-planted esplanade down 6th Street in an attempt to develop the trendy antique and tea room crowd, but all the shopping action is back by the main freeways with the giant box stores and fast-food outlets. It is a blue-collar town with most citizens hard at work in the surrounding refineries. 

Refineries along the Texas City Dock with a bit of drama added from Photoshop plug-ins Sony A77 II with 70-400mm G2 1/2000 sec. f/5.6 ISO 800

Refineries along the Texas City Dock with a bit of drama added from Photoshop plug-ins

Sony A77 II with 70-400mm G2 1/2000 sec. f/5.6 ISO 800

The sensitive environmental types may abhor this kind of shot, but it represents wealth and money for the area. And that is steam and condensate making all the cloud patterns, not pollution.

No one can get away with thoughtless releases any more. And if they do have a release from an error or malfunction, they pay up pretty fast. Marathon bought the Texas City Refinery from BP and seems determined to be a good neighbor. It is the second largest petroleum refinery in Texas and third largest in the US. 

5:30 pm January sunset Sony A77 II with 70-400mm G2 1/640 sec. f/6.3 ISO 200

5:30 pm January sunset

Sony A77 II with 70-400mm G2 1/640 sec. f/6.3 ISO 200

We don't stop photographing birds at the Texas City Dike until there is no light left. Then we pay attention to the sunsets and even have tried our hand at night shots. The sun was setting way out behind the Galveston causeway last Fall, but in Winter, it illuminates the shapes of the plants along the Texas City docks.   

Wild kitteh - post-processing with Fractalius and Photoshop Oil Paint Sony A77 II with 70-400mm G2 1/1000 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1000

Wild kitteh - post-processing with Fractalius and Photoshop Oil Paint

Sony A77 II with 70-400mm G2 1/1000 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1000

I am always on the look out for cats at the Dike. Some trips there are none, others an abundance. This one is quite nice; there is a scraggly black one I cant bear to photograph. Last time I was there he was eating from plates of food someone had left. I am not the only one worried about him, I guess.

A few months ago a photographer friend, Mike Argo, posted a great photo on his Flickr account of a strange church in Texas City. It took me a while to find the Castle Church that I showed you in Brick by Brick. While exploring that part of Texas City, my fave photographer, Bill Maroldo and I found these old apartments. They are abandoned and forlorn now and I can't find out much information about them.

Home sweet home Sony A77 II with 70-400mm G2 1/400 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1000

Home sweet home

Sony A77 II with 70-400mm G2 1/400 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1000

They are small duplexes, one and two stories with interesting post-modern touches. We did talk to a neighbor across the alley who told us they are now a real nuisance and attract unsavory characters. He has complained to the city, but the rumor is there is asbestos in the buildings and demolition would be quite costly. Renovation is out of the question, but they are great photographic subjects!

Laundry day

Laundry day

This is a panorama of what I think might have been the laundry building. There are two of these, near the off street parking. And notice the clothes line poles.  

Have a seat, stay for a spell...

Have a seat, stay for a spell...

I used a couple of images in Photoshop layers to make the one above. The chair was there in December, but on our last visit it was gone. That is the way I feel about a lot of this urbex stuff; you never know if it will be there next time. 

Imaginary cow out to pasture... Sony A77 II with DT 16-50mm HDR  f/4.5 ISO 1000

Imaginary cow out to pasture...

Sony A77 II with DT 16-50mm HDR  f/4.5 ISO 1000

Now... no, the cow isn't painted on the wall but it would look good, don't you think? Ah, the magic of Photoshop. It is hardly the neighborhood for art appreciation but we can enjoy the image of a big, brown cow looking over the lawn. 

I am surprised at the lack of graffiti on the buildings. There is some, but most of the destruction looks to be in search of piping, electrical or copper; things readily sold for pocket money. A few of the apartments show signs of fire, but who knows when that happened. If any of my loyal readers know the history of these apartments, let me know in the comments. 

Related adventures: Too Sunny for BirdsBrick by Brick, Time Traveling

Do you explore unfamiliar areas? Do you wonder who lived in these apartments? What they were like when they were new?

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