For hundreds of years, the area near Buffalo Bayou was home to several Native American groups: The Patiris, Karankaw, Deadose, and Atakapa people were among the earliest inhabitants of the region.
In the late 1800’s, the Inman family had a large farm east of the town of Houston. They sold 28.5 acres to Isidore Japhet. In October, 1982, he developed Japhet Subdivsion on both sides of Japhet Creek.
In 1909, the modern North Side Sewage Treatment Plant opened two blocks and upwind from the Japhet neighborhood. Over the next 30 years, factories, warehouses, and rice mills were built along and near Japhet Creek.
Throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s, Japhet Creek became a dumping ground. Rice hulls from nearby rice mills, blood and guts from the nearby slaughter house, tires from large trucks, and everyone’s trash were all thrown into the creek.
although the 1940’s and 50’s brought growth for the Houston downtime, the Japhet Creek continued to be a dumping area for construction waste. As old streets and building were demolished, the rubble was dumped along the banks of the creek. As the smell from the sewage treatment plant became worse, the neighborhood emptied…
In 1964, a group of civic advocates lead by Terry Hershey, blocked a plan to channel and concrete the banks of Buffalo Bayou. The Buffalo Bayou Partnership was founded in 1986 to facilitate improvements to the Buffalo Bayou greenway system.
In that same year, after the sewage treatment plant on the banks of Buffalo Bayou had been closed, Jim Ohmart and Eileen Hatcher moved into the original home built by Isidore Japhet on the banks of the wild creek that shares his name. In, 2004, Hatcher and Ohmart connected with a local environmentalist, Brian Herod and the Japhet Creek Restoration Project was born.
A Hopeful Future
Today, Japhet Creek is one of the last tributaries of Buffalo Bayou that hasn’t been covered or channeled. Because it is still a natural stream, it fits the requirements of a Green Fingers Grant, a federal program to protect the tributaries which filter the runoff into the rivers, streams, and bayous of America. Thanks to the hard work of the Buffalo Bayou Partnership and the Trust for Public Land, Japhet Creek has been acquired by the City of Houston through the Green Fingers Program. The Creek will remain wild and undeveloped for generations to come.
Japhet Creek will become part of the City of Houston’s Park Program with a trail connecting Finnegan Park to the trails of Buffalo Bayou. Houstonians will soon have a place less than three miles from downtown to watch turtles swim and hawks soar.
Restoring Our Creek
Since the first Japhet Creek Restoration Clean-UP day in 2005, hundreds of bags of trash and tons of recyclable materials have been removed from the creek by dedicated Volunteers.
Volunteers have also removed numerous invasive plants and replaced them with native trees, shrubs, and grasses. These volunteer-led restoration efforts have greatly enhanced Japhet Creek’s wetland ecosystem which provides habitat to a diverse array of wildlife.