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Matagorda County TX
Matagorda County

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Matagorda County, Texas Gulf Coast

28 42' 33" N, 96 13' 3" W (28.709167, -96.2175)
State Highway 35 on Tres Palacios Bay
28 milwa SW of Bay City
31 miles NE of Port Lavaca
Midway between Houston and Corpus Christi
Population: 4,682 Est. (2016)
4,718 (2010) 5,153 (2000) 4,418 (1990)

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Palacios TX - Tres Palacios River

Tres Palacios River
Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, July 2008

History in a Pecan Shell

The name: Trespalacios is Spanish for Three Palaces. The town was named after the bay and the bay was named after a mirage supposedly seen by shipwrecked Spanish sailors. They imagined seeing three palaces on shore which disappeared as they approached. It's a much more colorful story than simply admitting that it was simply named after Jose Felix Trespalacios. Somewhere along the way (around 1902) two palaces were lost and the town is now simply Palacios.

Bill and Clare Bradfield, authors of Texas Towns from A to Z Pronunciation Guide, (Three Forks Press 1996) remind us that Palacios is pronounced Puh-LASH-uhs and not the proper Spanish Pa-las-ee-ohs).

Cattle baron Shanghai Pierce had originally owned the land where Palacios is today. If he hadn't sold it - you can bet his statue (now in a cemetery near Blessing) would be in the most obvious spot in Palacios. Pierce was a modest man who ordered his statue carved before he died so he'd have time to admire it.

In 1901 the land was bought from Pierce by The Texas Rice Development Company. They in turn sold the townsite to their own subsidiary - The Palacios City Townsite Company. This is when the change from Trespalacios to Palacios was made (1902).

1903 brought a hotel, the railroad and a post office. The next year a pavilion was built and the oyster and seafood industry started.

Palacios TX -  1910 R. J.  Hill Building
The 1910 R. J. Hill Building
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark

TE photo, 2001
Palacios TX -  1910 R. J.  Hill Building  Historical Marker

R. J. Hill Building Historical Marker
Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, July 2008

Palacios TX -  Gulf breeze shaped tree
A breeze-shaped tree on the Bay.
TE photo, 2001
Palacios, Texas - Jetty
Texas granite from Marble Falls forms a jetty
TE photo, 2001
Palacios TX - Tres Palacios River Bridge
Tres Palacios River Bridge
TE photo, June 2001

by Mike Cox (From "Texas Tales" column)

Palacios has had a post office since 1903, but people had been trying to build a city on the upper end of Matagorda Bay long before then.

Had the first effort been successful, it would have changed the map of Texas at least some of the words on that map. In 1836, Capt. Thomas Bridges, a shipmate from Boston, acquired title to 800 acres on Oliver Point, not far from present Palacios.

Bridges had a substantial town site surveyed and soon traveled to New York City to sell lots. He envisioned his town in the new Republic of Texas as a major port, even thought his land lay 17 miles from the open Gulf of Mexico. Such an important future metropolis, he reasoned, needed an equally important name.

The new town, soon to be a prosperous city, would honor the man considered the Father of Texas, Stephen Fuller Austin.

Unfortunately, the first Austin, Texas fell far short of greatness. Today, few people even know Texas had another Austin before the Colorado River village of Waterloo acquired the name in 1839 when a presidential commission located the capital there.

Meanwhile, back in Matagorda County ... Read full article
Palacios TX -  Luther Hotel

Luther Hotel
Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, July 2008

Palacios TX - Mural

Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, July 2008

Palacios TX - Downtown building

Palacios Downtown
Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, July 2008

Palacios TX - City sign

City of Palacios sign
Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, July 2008

Palacios TX - Cotton field

Cotton field
Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, July 2008

Pavilion in Palacios
shrimp boats in Palacios Texas
A pavilion on the Bay,
now demolished

TE photo, 2001
Shrimp boats in drydock
TE photo, 2001
caboose with a bay window
Palacios acquired a caboose with an appropriate bay window. This has to be purely coincidental since the city couldn't possibly predict which type would be available at the caboose auction.
TE photo, 2001

Palacios building with historical marker

TE photo, 1998
Nearby Destinations

  • West - Port Alto, Olivia, Point Comfort, Port Lavaca, Victoria, Indianola, Port O'Connor
  • East - Collegeport, Matagorda
  • North - Blessing, Danevang, El Campo

  • Palacios, Texas Area Towns:
    Bay City | Port Lavaca
    See Matagorda County | Texas Gulf Coast

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