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Return to San Jacinto after 67 Years

(with a mention of Mr. Martin's Monumental Star)

Text and Photos by Ken Rudine
Where Buffalo Bayou meets the San Jacinto River is the hallowed battleground where Texas's Independence was won from Mexico in 1836. Between 1936 and 1939, a 570 foot tall obelisk was constructed to honor those men and memorialize their victory. This San Jacinto Monument was a continuously poured reinforced concrete structure faced with Texas Limestone. Back then this site was 23 miles from my house where I was born and raised.

Approaching San Jacinto Monument
The San Jacinto Monument

My parents took my brother and me to the top of the monument upon its completion. The workers who built the star on top of the San Jacinto Monument included our neighbor Mr. Martin. He lived 2 houses away from us and I knew him and his wife as a couple who had 2 chow dogs. Mr. Martin had a swarthy complexion, coal black hair and may have been a native Indian like many high steel workers.


Ken Rudine (center) with father and brother 1939

Ken standing in same place in 2006

Today the San Jacinto Monument, 20 miles east of downtown Houston, is off Hwy 225 and technically in Deer Park Texas. Now surrounded by petro-chemical plants and refineries there is no trace of the original San Jacinto Inn, a world famous seafood restaurant. That restaurant had only moving air for comfort during its heyday which was from about 1939 to 1959.

Refurbishing of the monument began back in the 1980's. I have revisited to find there is $1.00 per person charge to enter the grounds. My wife paused from her chocolate bar, mentioned to the lady we were on assignment from TE and she waived the charge (indicating the appreciation of potential publicity or chocolate).


The History of the Texas Revolution written in stone

The Texian advance portrayed on the monument base.

History 2

History 3


A highly condensed history of the development of Texas industries.

History 4

Originally there were roads along each side of the reflection pool. They have been removed and circuitous road leads you from the southwest to approach the monument. The main floor to the left is a free museum and to the right houses a 25 minute film (fee). Entering the old front entrance proceeding straight ahead is the elevator to the top ($4.00). It is a one minute trip to the air conditioned observation room. Stay as long as you like at a level of 489 feet, high enough to see the curvature of the earth.

Why is the monument facing northwest? A casual observer might guess it is looking toward the Battleship Texas but if I know my Texas History it is facing Washington-On-The-Brazos, 75+ miles as the crow flies, due northwest - "The First and Last Capitol of The Republic of Texas".


Ken Rudine

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Related article:
The Top Ten Facts About The Construction of The San Jacinto Monument by Johnny Stucco


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