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5 Fun Facts About December 31 In Texas History

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1. The Republic of Texas officially ceased to exist on December 31, 1845, as it was admitted to the United States as the 28th state. The people of Texas had voted overwhelmingly in favor of annexation the previous October, but the U.S. Congress had delayed ratifying the treaty until the end of the year.

2. On December 31, 1862, Confederate troops in Galveston, Texas, surprised and defeated Union forces attempting to block their access to the city. The Battle of Galveston was a rare Confederate victory in the Western Theater of the Civil War and boosted morale among pro-secession Texans.

3. In 1875, the first Arbor Day in Texas was officially proclaimed on December 31, as a way to encourage the planting of trees statewide. The idea had originated in Nebraska in 1872 and quickly spread to other states, including Texas, where it was seen as a way to combat soil erosion and promote conservation.

4. December 31, 1891, marked the opening of the Houston Ship Channel, a major waterway that connected the city to the Gulf of Mexico and transformed it into a major port. The channel had been dredged and widened over several years and allowed larger ships to access the city's growing industrial and commercial areas.

5. On December 31, 1963, the famed Texas Tower No. 4, a U.S. Air Force radar station located 60 miles off the coast of Galveston, collapsed during a severe storm, killing all 28 personnel stationed there. The tragedy prompted a review of safety measures and design standards for offshore platforms and led to improved construction methods and equipment.
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