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The Port Of Harlingen Celebrates 70 Years

HARLINGEN, TX – The Port of Harlingen Authority celebrated 70 years in operation and the dedication of the new addition of the Port’s Administration Building with a ribbon-cutting event, Thursday, Sept. 23.


On Feb. 27, 1952, The Port of Harlingen Authority, then The Arroyo Colorado Navigation District of Willacy and Cameron Counties (ACND), officially opened for business. Similar to the celebration held 70 years ago, in conjunction with the Harlingen Area Chamber of Commerce, a ribbon-cutting celebration
marked a milestone in the Port’s history.


“It has been an honor and a pleasure to be a part of The Port of Harlingen for the last 34 years,” Alan Johnson, Port Board Chairman, said. “When I first came on the board my thought was to give it a try, one term, to see if it was the right fit. Here we are so many years later and thanks to the service of some wonderful community members who have served on this board since the beginning, we are seeing many years of planning and work come to fruition.”


Created in 1926, The Port of Harlingen began as an idea supported by Former Vice President John Nance Garner, then a state senator, and then Harlingen Mayor S.F. Ewing, and three individuals; J.B. Chambers, J.R. George and Tyre H. Brown who comprised the newly created ACND, pursuant to Article XVI, Chapter 59 of the Texas Constitution, enabled by Chapter 62 of the Texas Water Code.


In its early years, The Port was a terminal for steel, gasoline and fuel oil, ice, fish, and shrimp. Today, The Port still moves refined petroleum products but has expanded commodities transporting agricultural products, liquid and dry fertilizer, aggregates, and raw sugar.


“What started as one dock and a grain elevator has grown into a more than 2,000-acre multimodal transportation operation moving more than 3 million tons of goods annually through our region,” said Port Director Walker Smith. “We are growing, in fact, over the last five years our tonnage has increased more than 200%, which says a lot about the economic development and interest in the Harlingen community.”


Regional community leaders were in attendance commemorating the Port’s milestone, including Ana Garcia, South Texas Regional Director for U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, who read a letter on Cornyn’s behalf calling The Port of Harlingen an economic driver for South Texas.


Representing the Harlingen Area Chamber of Commerce board, Archie Drake with Valley Baptist Medical Center, said The Port of Harlingen has become more than just a mode of transportation for local industry, but a staple in the development of the community.


“What most of you probably do not know is the impact The Port of Harlingen really has on our community,” he said. “In fact, in 1954 steel to build our hospital, Valley Baptist Medical Center, came through this very port. The goods that move through their docks and facilities, they become the things we eat, that make our clothing, fuel our vehicles and even materials that build our businesses and homes.”


For more information, contact Amy Lynch, Director of Public Relations and Marketing, at (956) 423-0283 or at [email protected] For more information about the Port of Harlingen Authority’s 70 years in operation, visit our anniversary web page at https://portofharlingen.com/70th-anniversary/


Photos included are the Harlingen Chamber of Commerce Ribbon cutting in 1952 by former Harlingen Mayor Gene F. McCullough and the Ribbon Cutting from Thursday, Sept. 22, by the Harlingen Area Chamber of Commerce, Port of Harlingen Staff and local, regional, state, and federal leaders and officials.
The Port of Harlingen would like to thank all our community members that served on our Board of Commission since the beginning.


Navigation District/Port of Harlingen Commissioners:
J.B. Chambers 1927-1940
J.R. George 1927-1933
Tyre H. Brown 1927-1933
A.J. Carpenter 1933-1935
Joe L. Penry Jr. 1933-1938
Russell A. Rose 1936-1938
Dan Murphy 1938-1945
W.P. Briscoe 1938-1942
Clifford H. Purdy 1940-1963
E.C. Breedlove 1942-1953
C.O. Bennett 1945-1953
J.B. Cocke 1953-1972
Hugh Ramsey 1953-1958
Van C. Snell 1958-1974
David Newell 1964-1964
V.D. Raimond 1964-1973
B.J. Simpson 1972-1986
T.R. Jones 1973-1985
Don Bodenhamer 1974-1977, 1985-1988
J.R. Washman 1977-1984
Frank Boggus 1984-1988
Tommy Dismukes 1986-1991
Alan Johnson 1988-Present
Alex Hinojosa 1988-2017
Lamar Smith 1991-2007
Neil Haman, 2007-2011, 2018- Present
Bryan Duffy 2011- Present
Ryan Newman 2021- Present
Chris Villarreal 2021-Present

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