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[[Image:Port of Houston ISS012-E-9567.jpg|thumb|250px|The San Jacinto River portion of the Houston Ship Channel.Wakes of ships traveling along the channel are visible to the south of the Goat Islands (bright, oblong islands at top center of image). The inset area (denoted by white rectangle line at top left) is magnified as the bottom photo showing the battleship and the San Jacinto Monumentmarker.]]

The Houston Ship Channel in Houston, Texasmarker is part of the Port of Houston — one of the United Statesmarker's busiest sea ports.The channel is a conduit for ocean going vessels between the the city of Houston and the Gulf of Mexicomarker. The channel is a widened and deepened natural watercourse created by dredging the Buffalo Bayou and the Galveston Baymarker. Major products such as petrochemical and Midwestern grain and transported in bulk together with general cargo. The original watercourse for the channel, Buffalo Bayou, has its headwaters 30 miles (48 km) to the west of the city of Houston. It has been used to move goods to the sea since at least 1836. The proximity to Texas oilfields led to the establishment of numerous petrochemical refineries along the waterway, such as the ExxonMobil Baytown installation on the eastern bank of the San Jacinto River.

While much of the Ship Channel is associated with heavy industry, two icons of Texas history are also located along its length. The saw service during both World Wars, and is the oldest remaining example of a dreadnought-era battleship in existence. The nearby San Jacinto Monumentmarker commemorates the Battle of San Jacintomarker (1836) in which Texas won its independence from Mexicomarker.

The Houston Ship Channel has been periodically widened and deepened to accommodate ever-larger ships, and is currently wide by deep by long (161 meters by 14 meters by 80 kilometers). The islands in the ship channel are part of the ongoing widening and deepening project. The islands are formed from soil pulled up by dredging, and the salt marshes and bird islands are part of the Houston Port Authoritymarker's beneficial use and environmental mitigation responsibilities.

On December 25, 2007, The Houston Ship Channel was featured on Anderson Cooper's CNN Special, "Planet in Peril," as a potential polluter of nearby neighborhoods. This year, the University of Texas released a study suggesting that children living within of the Houston Ship Channel are 56% more likely to become sick with leukemia than the national average.

The Ship Channel has five vehicular crossings. They are the Washburn Tunnel, the Sidney Sherman Bridge, the Sam Houston Ship Channel Bridgemarker and popularly known as the Beltway 8 Bridge; the Fred Hartman Bridge in Baytown, Texas; and the Lynchburg Ferry.

The channel was designated a National Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in 1987.

Image:Houston Ship Channel Galena.jpg|Aerial view of the Houston Ship Channel on Buffalo Bayou. This point is located in the city of Galena Parkmarker, a suburb of Houston. Downtown Houston is visible at right, about 10 miles (16 km) distant. View is to the west.Image:Houston Ship Channel Barbours Cut.jpg|Aerial view of the Barbours Cut container terminal on the Houston Ship Channel. Photo taken before the Fred Hartman Bridge crossed the channel. View is to the northwest.File:USS TexasSan Jacinto Park in Fog.jpg|A view of and the San Jacinto Monumentmarker taken from the channel.

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