The Texas Gulf Coast has been home to many great American inventors. From fishing aids to groundbreaking medical innovations, many major advancements have come from the Lone Star State.
Gail Borden, Jr. settled on Galveston Island in 1829 and worked as a farmer and surveyor. Borden was constantly trying to improve the mechanics of daily life, and he became determined to find out how to keep milk from spoiling. Using a vacuum pan with a heating coil, he was able to vaporize the water from the milk without burning or souring it. The result, condensed milk, could be stored and transported over long distances. Borden obtained American and British patents for his invention in 1856. The milk company he created in 1857, which later was named Borden, Inc., operated until 2001. He also created the first topographical map of Texas, and is responsible for creating the Telegraph and Texas Register. Until his death in 1874, Borden spent his winters in Texas, giving back to the community by funding schools and churches. Learn more about Borden from the National Inventors Hall of Fame at www.invent.org/hall_of_fame/249.html. The Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin maintains a collection of Borden’s papers, account books, publications and more; visit www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/utcah/01206/cah-01206.html#a0 for more information.
For those who love to fish, the Rockport Rattler jig is one of the best inventions ever created. While Rex Hoyt was in the Navy, he noticed a distinct clicking sound coming from shrimp and decided to replicate the noise for his fishing pursuits. The Corpus Christi inventor’s Rockport Rattler is described as “a dinner bell for fish,” and combines sound, light reflection and color to attract a variety of species. If you want to see just how much you can catch along the Texas Gulf Coast, team up with C&T Bay Charters. The expert fishing guides will take you to the best spots around Corpus Christi, Rockport and Port Aransas where you’ll find plenty of speckled trout and redfish. Learn more at www.ctbaycharters.com.
Throughout his career, Dr. Michael DeBakey operated on more than 60,000 patients including Russian President Boris Yeltsin who called the doctor a “magician of the heart.” For international dignitaries and local Houston residents alike, DeBakey transformed lives with his expertise in surgically treating diseases of the heart and blood vessels. He invented new ways to repair weakened or clot-obstructed blood vessels with preserved human blood vessels, as well as artificial ones. In 1939, he co-authored one of the first research papers linking smoking to lung cancer. DeBakey also served in the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General during World War II and helped create the first mobile army surgical hospitals – MASH units. Today, great work is still being done at the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine. Learn more about Dr. DeBakey and his incredible contributions to the field of medicine at www.debakeydepartmentofsurgery.org/home/content.cfm?content_id=287.
With so many new inventions patented each year in Texas, it’s hard to deny that the state – and the Gulf Coast region in particular – is a hotbed of creative thought. As you explore the contributions of the region’s innovators, maybe you’ll be inspired to invent something yourself.